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Why You Shouldn’t Drink Cold Water, According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Do you guzzle down a cold beverage to quench your thirst when it’s hot out? Or maybe you’re used to drinking cold water in the morning to wake up. If so, you may be surprised to know that the habit is considered unhealthy by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) standards.

This Pacific Prime article looks at why you shouldn’t drink cold water, and how it can negatively affect your body and internal organs, according to TCM.

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Why Cold Water is Bad for Your Health in TCM

From the spleen to the kidneys, cold water could adversely affect your body from a TCM perspective. You think cold water is more refreshing and tastier than warm water, but you might not understand how cold water is bad for your health. Here are some ways that cold water does harm to our body.

The Spleen (and Kidneys)

Cold water (and iced drinks in general) interferes with the spleen and kidneys’ normal functions, according to TCM. The spleen has numerous functions, one being distributing blood and nutrients throughout the entire body.

It is also a vital organ for creating and circulating Qi, which is commonly referred to as the “vital life force”. Healthy Qi flow is beneficial to our body in many ways, it helps with:

  • Digestion
  • Absorption
  • Blood circulation
  • Immunity protection

The spleen also provides warmth to the kidneys for optimal functionality. It has an easier time adapting to moderate temperatures since Qi circulates better in a warm environment, and vice versa. Therefore, the TCM answer to the question “Is cold water bad for your kidneys?” is a resounding yes.

The Stomach

TCM principles suggest that the stomach works optimally with warmth instead of coldness. To keep the stomach healthy, we should consume foods that are warm and hot. Cold and ice foods should also be avoided as they are believed to be harmful to the stomach and can disturb digestive functions.

TCM’s Six Pathogenic Factors

There are six pathogenic factors in Chinese medicine, which are understood to be the six groups of environmental pathogenic elements that change a person’s physiology and cause disease. They can either invade the body individually or in different combinations. These elements include:

  • Wind
  • Cold
  • Summer-heat
  • Dampness
  • Dryness
  • Fire

Since cold water is considered a “cold” pathogenic element, its coldness can slow down and disrupt the spleen’s Qi circulation. As a result, cold water will also affect the stomach’s temperature by causing it to create more heat to maintain a balance.

Reactions such as these prevent the stomach from working optimally, thereby affecting digestion. Consequently, cold water consumption harms the spleen and stomach, which can potentially lead to the following gastrointestinal issues:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dyspepsia
  • Malabsorption

Cold Water Weakens Immunity

The spleen is an integral part of your immune system. TCM sees Qi as an immune system booster to keep pathogens and infectious diseases at bay. Since the spleen is responsible for Qi formation and protecting our bodies from diseases, drinking cold water could harm both your spleen and your immunity.

Cold Water Adds to Dampness

What’s more, Qi circulation also plays a role in dampness catabolism. A weakened spleen under cold effect can cause Qi circulation to slow down and become ineffective at catabolizing dampness, which ends up accumulating and further hindering the spleen and stomach’s digestive process.

TCM’s theory states that signs and symptoms of accumulated dampness include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Venous insufficiency (heavy limbs)
  • Fluid retention
  • Obesity

Cold Water Can Contribute to Menstrual Disorders

Chinese mothers advise their daughters against drinking cold beverages during their periods. From a TCM perspective, “cold” can slow down Qi circulation and impede blood flow. TCM practitioners say that Qi obstruction and blood accumulation are important contributing factors to menstrual disorders such as:

  • Menstrual pain
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • And more

Hot Water vs. Cold water

While research suggests that increased metabolism, enhanced alertness, and improved hydration for physical activity are some benefits of drinking cold water, those who follow TCM principles believe that cold water is harmful to one’s health and increases susceptibility to many disorders.

Now that you understand the TCM perspective, you’ll be less confused the next time you see a Chinese person order a hot drink on a summer day. In fact, Chinese people drink hot water throughout all seasons.

If you want to get healthier from a TCM perspective, there’s one simple thing you can start doing today: swap your iced drinks for room-temperature or warm water.

Is TCM Covered by Health Insurance?

You might be wondering whether non-essential or emergency treatments such as TCM are covered by health insurance, but there is no definite answer to this question as it differs with each policy and insurance provider.

TCM’s principle is the opposite of Western medicine. It emphasizes the importance of harmony and balance within an individual’s internal system to minimize the recurrence of diseases rather than straightforwardly curing the disease. Hence more and more westerners are catching onto the TCM system.

It is advisable for you to get in touch with an experienced insurance intermediary like Pacific Prime. We can help you search for a suitable individual health insurance plan or other plans in China compatible with your needs and budget.

Contact us to find out more!

Disclaimer: Pacific Prime solely represents, operates and manages locally regulated insurance products and services in the territory of PR China. Any references to Pacific Prime Global Company or Group, the international services, insurance products or otherwise stated written or verbally, is for introduction purposes about our overseas network only as each entity is fully independent.

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