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Cold Hands and Feet

Updated: Jun 4

Health concerns like Raynaud's syndrome, hypothyroidism, B-12 deficiency, and anemia can cause poor circulation to the extremities. Read on for a different point of view of underlying causes and ways to warm up your body. It is especially important in the colder seasons to keep your hands and feet warm to match the dropping temperatures.

Chinese Medicine Perspective

As with all health concerns, Chinese Medicine looks at the individual as a whole and identifies the underlying pattern leading to a condition. Below are a few common patterns related to diminished circulation:



Lack of circulation is connected to blood, which has a broader definition in Eastern Medicine. Blood nourishes and moistens all the organs, muscles, and tissues. Sometimes cold extremities show that blood needs to be supported. A set of symptoms can show a connection to a specific organ system (according to Chinese Medicine).


Cold hands are related to Heart Blood deficiency.

Related symptoms: Palpitations, dizziness, easily startled, poor memory

Cold feet are due to Liver blood deficiency. Related symptoms: Numbness, muscle spasms, blurry vision, floaters, scanty menses, brittle nails



Cold (and clammy) hands and feet are due to Yang deficiency. The nature of yang is warming and energizing and if yang is deficient metabolism and circulation are slowed and there will be increased feelings of cold.

Related symptoms: fatigue, urinary frequency, asthma, puffiness and edema, weak back and knees


Cold fingers and toes are signs of liver qi stagnation. The liver in eastern medicine is responsible for keeping everything moving freely and easily in our bodies. When the Liver becomes distressed over a period of time it can cause blood to become stagnant.

Related symptoms: excess emotions (frustration, depression, anxiety), frequent sighing, neck and shoulder tension, waking 1:00-3:00 am, PMS


Foods to keep blood moving

Chinese Medicine associates a thermal aspect to food (hot, cold, warm, neutral). This applies to how food is prepared (raw or cooked) as well as an energetic nature. To keep extremities warm, limit cold and raw roods (salads, smoothies, iced drinks) and increase foods that are cooked and and considered warm or hot.


Foods that build blood: apricots, cherries, red grapes, beets, beef, egg, figs, dates, parsley, dark leafy greens Foods that are warming: cayenne, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, walnuts, pistachios, chestnuts, onion, garlic Many of the foods are high in sulfur (considered warming) which is beneficial since the mineral keeps blood vessels elastic and increases circulation. High sulfur foods include cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, allium vegetables (garlic, onion), lentils, chickpeas, walnuts.


How can acupuncture help?


  • Acupuncture wakes up the parasympathetic nervous system (the state of rest and restore) increasing blood flow to the extremities.


  • Treatments stimulate the release of chemicals such as Nitric Oxide and Substance P which relax and dilate blood vessels and increase circulation.


Acupuncture is meant to move your body toward homeostasis and resolve issues in a lasting way.


How many treatments will you need? Acupuncture is cumulative and each treatment build on the next. Positive effects can be seen after a few treatments, but additional treatments will create a more lasting effect.


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