In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), water is cold and yin by nature, yet the stomach is the stove of our body. It’s our fire pit that we throw logs (food) into to keep us going throughout the day. If it’s not burning up, our metabolism and ‘inner fire’ (energy, libido) won’t be burning up either. Our “logs” will sit there, not digesting properly. We need fire to cook and transform nutrients to different parts of the body. Long term consumption of cold water slowly turns off the heat, resulting abnormal function of digestion, leading to malnutrition & poor immune system. Too much cold accumulation in our body also cause poor circulation, intestinal cramps, & abdominal pain.
For young children, their organs are delicate. After consuming lots of cold foods (cold milk, ice cream, sandwiches, salads) and cold water/juices, their stoves become colder and colder, leading to all kinds of digestion problems, sinus problem, allergies, hay fever, asthma, etc. In the “Yellow Emperor’s Master Classic of Chinese Medicine” a cold constitution with cold drinks hurts the lung (cold constitution here means overconsumption of cold foods which turns our body type to cold). In the 5 elements, the stomach is the mother of lung. When the mother (stomach) is sick, it can’t take care of the son (lung). After a while, the son gets sick (allergies, sinus infections, & asthma). We need to keep up the fire of the stove, thus helping the mother (stomach) to get healthy, in order to cure and save the son (lung). Just like when we travel on an airplane, we need to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before our son. Excessive drinking of cold water also affects the development and physiological functions of the reproductive system. For young ladies, it can cause menstrual cramps, menstrual disorders & excessive discharge. Over-accumulation of cold creates a “chilled palace” which is an extremely cold uterus, ovaries, ovarian tube & leads to overgrowth of dampness (candida, parasites), fibroids, ovarian cysts, tumors, dysmenorrhea, infertility. When we get hurt, we use an ice pack to calm pain/swelling. When we drink ice water while we are eating, it’s like putting an ice pack on our stomach! It slows down our fullness sensations, causing overeating.
If you look at a thermal imaging camera, the stomach is always red/orange (hot) even though our hands may often be green/blue (cold). Our hands/feet will be especially cold if we have fatigue, swelling, and menstrual cramps; which are all yang (heat) deficiency symptoms. On that same thermal imaging camera, water is very dark blue. The water element is yin by nature. If you drink that dark blue cold fluid, your red hot stomach begins to turn blue/cold as well … NOT good.
What happens when you put sautéed vegetables, soup, or steak in the fridge? The fat solidifies. We eat healthy fats all day. What happens if we put cold drinks on top of that fat? That’s right! It solidifies in our stomachs, building up that gunk. If you drink HOT liquids, they will literally help your body melt away the fat/food and use it for energy (helps with weight loss!)
Some of you may be thinking… okay, but what about in the summer? What if it’s hot outside? A cold drink is refreshing, don’t we need it for balance? Not quite. What happens when you have a hot pan? If you put a drop of cold water on it, steam and moisture explodes. The same thing happens in your body (as above, so below!) Putting cold water in a hot body creates moisture and dampness. What loves to grow in damp areas? Bacteria, candida, and parasites… especially in your stomach and uterus. “Dampness” in TCM actually means pathogens and parasites.
Lots of benefits:
- Drinking hot water can be like spending time in a sauna, it purifies your body. As your body temperature rises and you begin to perspire, hot water flushes the toxins out. Add a piece of lemon first thing in the morning and it can assist in daily cleansing—helping prevent constipation.
- I suffer from sinus and nasal congestion, especially when the air is dry. Drinking hot water helps in clearing your nasal cavity, relieving congestion and sinus pressure.
- Drinking hot water is a great way to stay hydrated and keep warm. You might say, why not drink tea? Consuming tea with caffeine may keep you alert and warm, but it doesn’t help in hydration. The caffeine element is what can cause dehydration.
- Hot water can improve your digestion, especially after meals. Drinking cold beverages/water during and immediately after a meal can be dangerous. (I remember my father scolding me about this, giving me an example of what happens when you mix cold water and oil.) Think about it. Drinking cold water solidifies the oil in the foods you consume—harmful for digestion. This can cause the oil in your food to breakdown faster than the solid food you’ve consumed. This lines the intestines turning into fats and possibly cancer.
- Blood circulation is improved by drinking hot water.
- And again with some lemon first thing in the morning, hot water is great for getting the metabolism going—perfect as a weight loss strategy.
- Just as drinking water in general is important to maintaining healthy skin, hot water is excellent for your complexion as well!
Original article by Nature’s Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture Clinic-Geraldton