The cold, dry winter climate presents a health challenge for many people. It is a time when young children, babies, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to catching a cold or virus. It’s important to dress warmly when it’s cold, but even though some warmer days may have us reaching for lighter clothing, it’s important to protect the body from the elements.
Most colds involve the Lung. One of the Lung’s functions is to send protective Qi to the space between the skin and muscles. This energy defense, or Wei Qi, warms the skin and muscles and protects the body from pathogens, such as cold and wind. Keeping the Lung’s energy strong helps the body to resist illness, particularly in Winter. When you dress warmly, the Lung doesn’t have to work overtime and can conserve its Qi.
When cold breaks through this protective energy barrier, it can travel to the Lung. Cold can also enter the Lung through the nose. As your only internal organ in direct contact with the outside world, the Lung is vulnerable and difficult to treat when it encounters a problem.
A common symptom of a winter cold is a cough. If a cough lasts longer than one month, it is a sign that the cough has progressed from the Lung to another organ (the Kidney, for example, when the season is Winter). TCM calls this a “one-hundred-days cough.”
Traditionally, if a child with a lingering cough is still being breast fed, the mother is given herbs to treat the condition. The essence of the herbs is transferred to the baby through the mother’s milk. Likewise, a nursing mom with a child who has a cold can drink ginger tea. Ginger’s warm and soothing essence is effective for relieving cold symptoms. Ginger can also be applied to the skin to relieve symptoms of internal cold.
Healing Massage for Children
A child’s energy is pure and strong. Health problems usually remain on the surface and do not go to a deeper level. If your child has been treated for a cold or bronchitis and has a lingering cough, try this ginger massage to help your child recall his or her self-healing ability.
Extract the juice from a fresh ginger root using a garlic press. Then use the liquid to massage the body. Remember that a child’s skin is delicate. Use a light touch and spend only two or three minutes on each of the following areas. The older the child, the longer you can massage each area.
Spine Rub: Using the ginger juice, gently rub your hand up and down the spine. As circulation increases, the skin will turn pink.
Stomach Circles: Rub the stomach with the ginger juice, making gentle circles in a clockwise and then counterclockwise direction. This massage also relieves digestive problems, particularly diarrhea.
Forearm Strokes: With the child on his or her back, use the ginger juice to lightly stroke both forearms up and down.
Hand and Foot Warmer: Gently warm the child’s hands and feet by rubbing them with the ginger juice. Afterward, keep the hands and feet covered so they can remain warm.