Dr. Jodi Vingelen, ND
Valentine’s day was earlier this month, and I was thinking about love, chocolate, and the heart shape we use to express love. Also, my stream of consciousness went on to thinking about the anatomical heart. It’s amazing how this muscle is continuously pumping blood without rest unless you are an unlucky individual. It started pumping when you were only 6 weeks old in utero and will continue until your death!
Cold feet and hands are an unpleasant and painful condition, which I hear reported from patients quite often, particularly during the cold season. There are several reasons for this physiological complaint such as poor circulation, disorders of the nervous system, cold exposure injuries, decreased metabolism from a low thyroid condition (hypothyroidism), diabetes, arteriosclerosis, peripheral vascular disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon, neuropathy, and frostbite.
A weak heart will always first manifest itself in the remotest parts of the body, such as, the feet, hands, nose, ears. A healthy person with a strong heart, will develop cold feet if they stand on cold ground for a considerable amount of time and the loss of heat may be so great that the body cannot make it up. A weak heart is frequently met in individuals who are addicted to the use of alcohol, which are apt to cause a fatty degeneration of the heart. Also, a weak heart is met in persons indulging in the use of other stimulants, such as coffee, tea, tobacco, etc., or whose whole constitution is weakened by old age, insufficient food, convalescence or chronic diseases. Oftentimes, cold extremities are met if the distribution of blood is interrupted either by an inflammatory congestion of an organ or by the stagnation of the blood in one or the other parts of the body. As you can see there are several reasons for cold extremities.
Cold extremities are an important clue to how well the heart is doing its job of sustaining your life. If you suffer from cold extremities, it may very well be a good time for you to take a close look at what you are doing in your life that could be contributing. If possible, make your best effort to remove the cause. When the cause is removed, the result of cold extremities will disappear also. So, if the cold extremities is caused by the indulging of the stimulant du jour (coffee, tea, nicotine etc.), it must be restricted. If your physical weakness is the cause of the cold extremities, you must have a goal to strengthen the entire body.
As well, don’t forget to minimize heat loss by wearing warm footwear (i.e. socks, shoes) and avoid standing on cold surfaces for long periods of time. Additionally, circulation may be improved by massage, health and strength training, long walks, and by applying cold water, particularly by knee-douches and treading water.
Knee Douche For Two Weeks!
To perform this, ideally, you are using a low-pressure hose but a watering can will do or remove the handset from the bathroom hand shower. *The water pressure should not be too strong. Take your time with the douche treatment. Breathe in a regular rhythm to prevent dizziness, breathlessness or a sensation of pressure. Do not apply cold water if you are cold. Warm up first with a walk or jumping jacks!
Daily for two weeks, begin by applying cold water (46-50 degrees Fahrenheit) at the toes of the right foot along the outside to the heel, go slowly up to the hollow of the knee so that the water is covering the calf and then over the inner side of the lower thigh to the heel. The left leg is then done in the same way, except that when coming to the hollow of the knee one moves over to the right knee for a moment and then back again to the left. The front is started again with the toes of the right leg by moving slowly up the side of the leg to the knee and back to the heels, then proceeding the same way with the left leg.
- Stimulates the blood circulation and eases the work of the heart.
- Eliminates tension headaches and congestion in the head.
- Reduces symptoms of cold in the throat and nose.
- Relieves feelings of stress and tension in the legs.
- Prevents and eases varicose veins.
After two weeks, let me know if your cold extremities have improved or not.
A recent correspondence with my colleague, Sussanna Czeranko, ND, reminds me of another suggestion to improve blood circulation in the feet is water treading. It is very easy to implement and carry out every night before retiring to bed. It takes on to two minutes and requires only a tub filled with water to the level of the ankles.
Passionately, I utilize nature cure methods personally and professionally. One of my favorite “treatments” is the cold plunge. After a nice long walk or run, there is nothing more rewarding than to come up to a beautiful alpine lake or a flowing river to take a quick dip in the refreshing cold water. It is a stimulating experience. I hope that by reading my short essays on nature cure that you will be enticed into this lifestyle that my patients and I find to be re-vitalizing.
Graduated from Bastyr University (Kenmore, WA). Dr. Jodi Vingelen is a WA state licensed ND*.
*Currently Texas does not license Naturopathic Doctors. Naturopathic Doctors are NOT Medical Doctors (MD/DO); therefore, Dr. Vingelen, ND cannot legally prescribe pharmaceutical drugs, administer injections, diagnose, treat or cure any illness.
- Strueh, Carl. Cold Feet. The Naturopath and Herald of Health. 1904: V(2), 36.
- Tietze, Harald. Water Medicine. Bermagui, N.S.W.: Harald W. Tietze, 1995. Prin