Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
I notice that my hands and feet are usually much colder than the rest of my body. In which ways can I improve my circulation, perhaps even thin my blood?
A: Your situation may not be as directly related to the viscosity of your blood as the state of your vital qi (Chi). You may also have blood deficiency, such as anemia. I would first check to ensure that you are not suffering from anemia. Once you have ruled that out, check to ensure you are not suffering from a more severe pathology called Raynaud’s syndrome.
From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, your hands and feet may feel cold due to stagnation of qi in the middle of your body, preventing the vital substances, including blood, to flow to the extremities to warm them.
I suggest acupuncture and herbal prescriptions to help invigorate the qi. I also suggest you take up tai chi or qigong exercises. These are great martial art forms that help with the body’s internal circulation and cultivation of qi. From a dietary perspective, I suggest you incorporate more pungent moving foods such as tangerines, tangerine peel, Chinese chives, lettuce, hawthorn berries, black pepper, and cardamom seeds.
Try this remedy: peel tangerines, dry the peel, and then use the dried peel to make tea.