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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lucia Kajima

How Can Summer Treatment Help You Fight a Winter Disease?

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

Finding oneself in the midst of pandemic without a vaccine or a specific medical treatment for COVID-19 makes one wonder about the best course of action. By now you have learnt

about the importance of hand hygiene, wearing mask and physical distancing. But, is there anything else you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting infected with the novel coronavirus as work and other activities resume?

Good news! Thanks to its long and rich history of dealing with severe contagious infections, Chinese medicine (CM) has developed effective preventative methods and treatments against all kinds of pathogens. During my Chinese medicine in-hospital training in Guangzhou, China, I had an honor to work with Dr. Nan Ling, the researcher and clinician, with whom I prepared and applied herbal plaster treatment (san fu tie) for thousands of patients for prevention of summer disease during the winter season and prevention of winter disease during the summer season. Let me explain the concepts of 1. immunity in CM, and 2. treating the winter disease in the summer (dong xia bing zhi 冬病夏治) during "dog days" using san fu jiu 三伏灸 method developed during Qing dynasty 300 years ago.

In CM, immunity is described as correct qi. If correct qi is strong, one can maintain good health. If not, one will fail to ward off pathogenic attacks and fall ill. Strong correct qi in the cold and dark winter months depends on the body's ability to generate heat, in other words, the abundance of yang qi, whose most important function is to generate warmth.

Herbal plaster ready for acupoint sticking. Winter diseases are formed by compound factors with deficiency of yang qi as the prerequisite and yin as well as cold as the predominant pathogens. Its pathological characteristic rests with stagnation in meridians and collaterals.

So, why to treat winter disease in the summer? The treatment is based on the principle of the unity of heaven and the human where "in the spring and summer, one needs to nourish yang, and in the fall and winter to nourish yin." In the summer yang qi is at its highest level in the nature (hot and long days) and in the human body. To further strengthen the yang qi for the fall and winter, warming treatment over three summer days (san fu) of the most intense heat, often called "dog days" is provided. The purpose is to treat and prevent diseases of chronic and cold nature, often occurring or becoming worse in the fall or winter. Treatment in the summer is a treating strategy focused on proper opportunity of treatment, which is expected to yield twice the result with half the effort. The treatment can be in the form of acupuncture to specific acupoints that accumulate yang, external herbal plasters (san fu tie) made of warming herbs, cupping or moxibustion (san fu jiu). In China, the herbal plasters are the most popular form as it allows many patients to be treated at one time. This is the busiest time for Chinese hospitals that offer the treatment when non-Chinese medicine practitioners in the hospital need to assist with the patients. It is also a highly social occasion in which multigenerational families, your neighbors or co-workers participate.

Warm and pungent herbs are used to disperse cold and transform phlegm, warm the lungs, boost the kidney, and secure the root of qi. According to CM, the use of warming herbs at this specific time targets treating the root cause of the disease rather than a branch (symptom). This approach thus helps preventing disease in the fall and winter.

What kind of people can be helped the most by this treatment?

Generally, patients with impaired immunity (deficient correct qi) or those who are or

have tendency towards conditions of cold, cold-damp, blood stasis and qi deficiency

that in conventional medical terminology refer to the following:

1. respiratory disease (upper respiratory tract infections, asthma, recurring colds

and flus, bronchitis, rhinitis, sinusitis, etc.),

2. pain syndromes,

3. rheumatism,

4. gastrointestinal disease (stomach and intestinal disorders, e.g. diarrhea, cold

stomachache, etc.),

5. gynecological disease (dysmenorrhea, infertility, and postpartum), and

6. difficult disease (chronic illness, cancer, autoimmune diseases, fatigue, etc.).

Is there anyone for whom this treatment is contraindicated?

This treatment is contraindicated for diabetics, pregnant women, patients with

severe heart and lung dysfunction, and in cases of acute fever and in dermatological

diseases with breakouts and blisters.

When to do the treatment for the best effect?

Every year after summer solstice 3 to 5 sessions during the "dog days" of summer. If

used to help a chronic or difficult illness, it is important to do 3 to 5 sessions twice a

year (the second series of sessions after winter solstice) 3 to 5 years consecutively. There

is plenty of research that documents the treatment efficacy and millions of patients who

repeatedly do the seasonal treatments as their health has improved.

Dog Days of summer 2022 fall to these three periods:

1. The beginning (chufu): July 3 - 17, 2022,

2. The middle (zhongfu): July 18 - Aug 1, 2022,

3. The end (mofu): Aug 2 - 11, 2022.

To strengthen the effect, add one session between August 12 and September 23, 2022.

For more details click here or book online.

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