What does it mean to have cold hands and feet? How to replenish qi and yang

by | Dec 28, 2023 | Featured, Featured Articles, Headline, Traditional Chinese Medicine Concepts | 0 comments

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

How to use this guide:

  • This is purely a reference guide 
  • Do see a Chinese medicine practitioner as this information is not a replacement for a doctor

What does it mean to have cold hands and feet?

Cold hands and feet are often associated with slow or weak Qi in the body, which is the critical energy source for being alert and active.

You may also want to feel like you want to be warm all the time. This is because the circulation of both Qi and blood is slowed and doesn’t carry the blood or warmth as quickly. 

Yang deficiency can also be mistaken for excess yin as they produce the same “cold feeling” in the body.  One key difference is how it shows up in the tongue and the amount of dampness in the body.

Symptoms of yang deficiency vs excess yang:

  • The color, texture, and coating of the tongue is different.  For deficiency in yang, the tongue will be swollen with a pale, clear (or translucent white) tongue with a wet coating, while a excess in yin will likely be indicated by a yellow or white thicker wet coating on the tongue.  
  • While both can show up as feeling cold in the body, excess yin will usually be associated with phlegm in the lungs, where yang deficiency will not.
  • Their cause also differs from how these conditions emerge.  For deficiency in yang, this is normally caused by internally driven conditions such as overworking, overexercising, or overexertion of the body.  In order to have excess yin, this normally starts with over exposure to external wind-cold or over exposure to dampness, which can include both weather, conditions (such as humidity) or cold and damp foods (such as ice cream, cold drinks, cold and raw fruit, and even salads – which is why the Chinese cook all their vegetables normally).

Type of soups and teas to make to replenish qi and yang (for yang deficiency):

Here are a few key principles to think about when designing or making soups that will help with yang deficiency and to help you replenish qi and yang.

  •  Use dried red dates in your teas or soups and be sure to have the pits removed as they are fiery and can create too much heat in the body.  Red dates help tonify the qi and blood, which also replenishes qi and blood, and helps those who have too much “cold” in the body, helping it warm up. 
  • Use fresh ginger as well, to support yang deficiency.  This is a powerhouse ingredient that warms and helps with qi circulation, especially around the middle burner (section around the stomach and contains all the digestive organs). 
  • The best protein for warming soups and to support yang deficiency is chicken.  My Chinese doctor recommends chicken breast (versus chicken with bones) so that you can maximize all the protein possible from the meat.  You can also use a black silkie chicken for this purpose.
  • Drink a power soup weekly (if you’re over 40 for a woman, as men can start at 50 and still be OK), especially if it’s winter. This is also a power soup for women who have just had a baby as “the postpartum period is critical for maternal health status after childbirth [1]”.

  1. Yang, Xiao et al. “Maternal postnatal confinement practices and postpartum depression in Chinese populations: A systematic review.” PloS one vol. 18,10 e0293667. 30 Oct. 2023, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0293667

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