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Health, Dr. Mao, Santa Monica

Dr. Mao’s Wellness Central: Keep Your Hands And Feet Warm This Winter

Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Courtesy Photo
Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Posted Nov. 10, 2011, 4:27 am

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

Do your hands and feet feel colder when the temperature drops? If this is a persistent problem, it might not be the weather making you shiver. Although cold extremities are more common in women than in men, anyone can be affected. Some people who suffer from low thyroid function experience cold hands and feet, as the thyroid controls and maintain internal body temperature.

Our limbs get cold when blood vessels constrict or become obstructed. The hands or feet can change color from pink to purple, blue or white. The cause of this could range from exposure to extreme cold, poor circulation due to heart disease, frostbite, stress, side effects of medications, or prolonged work with vibrating equipment such as jackhammers.

Here are some remedies to keep your hands and feet feeling warm despite the cold weather.

Warm From The Inside Out

Eat plenty of omega-3 rich foods such as mackerel, herring, salmon, and anchovies. Also, incorporate blood-building meats such as lamb, beef, and wild game into your diet. Iron-rich foods can help warm up those cold hands; try spinach, broccoli, dried plums, oats, quinoa, sunflower and sesame seeds, walnuts, yams, squash, kale, onions, leeks, chives, garlic, scallions, and parsley. Raw foods and ice-cold foods and beverages should not be on the menu during these cold months. Drink only room temperature or hot drinks.

Caffeine constricts blood vessels and can cause cold hands and feet, so it is best to avoid coffee and soda. Avoid alcohol, because although it may temporarily be warming, it actually lowers your body temperature. Cut out smoking, as it impairs circulation.

Take A Spice Bath

When you eat spicy food, your body may react by increasing in body temperature, becoming red in the face and perspiring—all signs that your blood vessels have dilated and your blood flow has sped up. If you are not a fan of spicy foods, you can try to take a spice bath for a similar effect. You’ll feel warmed by the spices and you’ll also smell good! Take a hot spice bath by boiling the following spices in a large pot for 15 minutes: one tablespoon each of crushed black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, rosemary, oregano, sage, and cumin. Pour the mixture into the bathtub through a strainer and fill the tub with hot water. Taking the bath before bedtime is preferable, but anytime will do.

Exercise For Circulation

Regular physical activity is essential to promote a smooth flow of energy in your body, prevent blockages, and stimulate healthy circulation.

Try this qigong warm up exercise:

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, spine straight, and head tilted slightly forward.

Make your right hand into a loose fist and begin tapping your lower abdomen rhythmically. Continue tapping to the middle and upper abdomen, then chest. Move to underneath the armpit of the opposite arm, then the inner part of the arm and down to the palm. Then tap the outer part of the arm back up to the shoulder. Tap the shoulder muscle seven times. Repeat this same movement with the other hand.

Now using both hands in loose fists, begin tapping the lower back on both sides. Move the tapping down the back of the legs to the outside of the ankles. Start tapping on the inside of the ankles, working your way up the inside leg and thighs.

Finally, return to a standing position, again tapping your lower abdomen. End by placing your palms on your lower abdomen, left hand on top of the right. Make clockwise circles, rubbing the lower abdomen 36 times.

Practice this warm up for at least 15 minutes every day to heat you up from head to toe.

Warming Herbal Help

Chinese medicine considers coldness in the body to be a reduced flow of the body’s yang or fire energy as the result of insufficient blood. Herbal remedies, such as my formula Yang Exhaustion, are formulated using a combination of natural ginger and Cassia bark to aid in circulation and warm your hands and feet.

May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at

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