In Chinese medicine there’s an important balance at this time of year between letting sunshine on your skin, and not getting too cold (or wet!), especially not being exposed to cold Spring winds.
The theory of all this is very complex but is based on clinical observation over thousands of years with the huge populations in Asia where Chinese medicine is practiced. This clinical observation is central to how Chinese medicine has evolved, essentially closely watching, listening to peoples descriptions about their conditions, and recording what happens when different interventions are made. This process has been happening for at least as long as Chinese medicine has been around, and is continuing today, as Chinese Medicine is very much a system of medicine that is still alive and developing.
These sort of observations noted that people became exhausted, run down and prone to catching things at the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. This would, of course, have been due to many different factors, including lack of fresh food, lack of long daylight hours to find food, cold and damp living conditions and a lack of sunshine.
In the West we often think of ourselves as having developed above all this! These days we would expect the seasons to play a minor part in our day to day health.
In fact evidence increasingly argues against this.
The role that Vitamin D plays in our health is a good example.
Through the Winter months the sunlight intensity in the UK is not enough for our skin to make Vitamin D. We do not absorb Vitamin D effectively from our food and are designed to make this Vitamin from sunshine on our skin. Vitamin D is being shown to be crucial to our well being in numerous ways. Lack of this Vitamin causes weak bones, leading to increased bone fracturing and breaking. It seems to help prevent flu and to be a part of a well functioning immune system. Recent research is showing a strong link between lack of Vitamin D and MS.
It does not seem enough for us to take dietary supplements and too much dietary Vitamin D is toxic.
I’ve just seen an amazingly fit and active 97 year old in my clinic. He was telling me he plans to find a sheltered spot, out of the wind this afternoon, and to sit in the sunshine.
I’ll talk about suncreams and melanoma in a future post! Like everything nothing is ever straight forward in keeping healthy. We have to continually balance the needs of our bodies according to time of year, our state of health, age, energy levels…..the list is endless! But for now wrap up and find some sunshine! Oh and don’t forget that if you’re wearing a face cream with sun screen your skin won’t be able to make Vitamin D.