Heating and Cooling / 1995

Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 00:36:40 +0000
From: christopher hedley <christopher.GN.APC.ORG>
Subject: Heating and Cooling part 1

The concepts of hot and cold are found in all traditional medicines. I know very little about traditional Chinese medicine, which makes the dialogue so interesting.

At its simplest it is an intuitive way of dealing with symptoms, at its most refined it a profound and elegant way of understanding pathology - what is going wrong in the system.

To my mind the way to start is on a simple symptom clearing level, modified by or combined with addressing the underlying constitutional weakness. There is no better way to learn than to try it out.

Basically; Hot conditions are hot, worse in the heat and show an accumulation or congestion. The most obvious example is an acute inflamation, such as comes from a sprain in an otherwise healthy person, which responds to local application of cold remedies, such as an ice pack.
Cold conditions are cold, worse in the cold and show a blockage. The most obvious is rheumatic pains in elderly people, which respond to a warming application, such as Ginger oil.

On a simple constitutional level; a Hot person feels hot to the touch, dislikes hot weather and responds to cooling herbs such as plantain. A cold person feels cold to the touch, dislikes cold weather and responds to warming herbs such as spices.

Heat is shown by red, as in inflamation, and yellow, as in jaundice.
Cold is shown by white, as in blocked circulation, and blue, as in going blue in the cold.
Heat is shown by over activity of systems or organs, cold by underactivity.

It is, of course possible for a cold person to have local accumulations of heat, and a hot person to have local accumulations of cold. As Hippocrates said, 'the humour should reside in its place. When it accumulates and overflows its place disease results'. We all need heat and cold, but in the right proportion and in their right place. One simple method of treatment is to use a local remedy according to the local symptoms and a long term internal remedy according to the constitutional indications. But go with your direct experience of the situation and not with theory. Theory can help us understand/ get a handle on a situation but should never replace direct experience.

Part 2, following, outlines Galen's aproach to heating and cooling remedies.

From: christopher hedley <christopher.GN.APC.ORG>
Subject: Heating and Cooling part 2

The following is extracted from Culpeper's exposition of Galen's basic theory.

Galen systemised ancient Greek medicine and was the main authority in European and Arabic medicine for 1500 years. By the end, of course, his theory simply became stultifying. Culpeper was one of the last herbalists using main stream Galenic theory. He gave it a renewed spark, for himself at least, by incorporating it in his astrological system.

"The qualities of medicines are considered in respect of man, not of themselves, for those simples are called hot which heat our bodies, those cold which cool them and those temperate which work no change..

Such as are hot in the first degree are of equal heat with our bodies, and they only add a natural heat to them, if they be cooled by nature or by accident.
Such as are hot in the second degree as much exceed the first as our natural heat exceeds a [normal] temperature. Their use is to open the pores and take away obstructions...when nature can not do it.
Such as are hot in the third degree are more powerful...Their use is to promote perspiration exceedingly...and therefore all of them resist poison.

Such as are cold in the first degree...Their use is to 1. Qualify the heat of the stomach, 2. abate the heat in fevers and 3. refresh the spirits being almost suffocated.
Such as are cold in the third degree... Their use is to ..limit the violence of choler to repress perspiration and to keep the spirits from fainting.
Such as are cold in the forth degree stupefy the senses. They are used in violent pains and in extreme watchings, where life is despaired of."

There is no second degree of cold in this passage, although Culpeper does give herbs cold in the second degree in his classifications.

To promote perspiration and expel fevers; a gentle remedy such as Marigold is hot in the first degree, these just encourage the body's natural tendecy and are safe in all cases. A more active remedy such as saffron is hot in the second degree. Radish, Elecampane and Ginger are hot in the third degree and so on.
To moderate inflamation; Cucumber and barley are considered to be cooling in the first degree and plantain in the second degree. Gentle narcotics, such as lettuce, are cold in the third degree and strong narcotics, such as poppies, are cold in the forth degree.

There is often disagreement, amongst authors, as to the exact degree of hot and cold in a remedy. Interpretation depending on the use to which the herb is put and the method of application. Chamomile, for example, may be heating when taken as a hot tea, for fevers, and cooling when applied as a cold compress for inflammatory skin conditions.

This is only a start and meant to help those interested to make a picture which they can then check out in practice.

Christopher Hedley