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In TCM, Too Little or Too Much Water Moisture in the Body Can Lead to Ear Infections

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Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is based on the theory that everything in nature and the Universe is a combination of opposites. This is especially true in the case of yin (cleansing, cold) and yang (building, hot), a lot of which we control through thought, environment, sex, exercise, and diet, among many others.

Infections of the ear (otitis, ear inflammation) are of two types: External and internal. External ear inflammation affects the outer ear and is also known as swimmers ear. It is usually the result of an upper respiratory infection. Otitis media commonly affects babies and children and occurs in the middle ear which is the part of the ear behind the tympanum (eardrum). Connecting the middle ear to the nasopharynx are the auditory canals and Eustachian tubes. These organs regulate moisture, temperature, and air pressure. Colder temperatures and low pressure tend to increase water and moisture in the ears, especially in infants and young children. Too much water and moisture in the Eustachian tubes and ear canals can collect, stagnate and become infected attracting and allowing viruses and bacteria to thrive which then pressurize and inflame the ear resulting in earache. This painful sensation can be dull, sharp or throbbing and can lead to high fever or a feeling of fullness in the ear. The infection and pain can be aggravated during cold temperatures and on high altitudes.

The part of the ears that connect to the nasal cavity is prone to an internal and external invasion of damp and cold. Damp and cold air is usually windborne and can easily penetrate the ears, mouth, and nose. In severe cases, this can cause condensation in the ears. Winter cold tends to harden and condense water in the air into ice, snow, and rain. Cold in the body can condense fluids in the ears, mouth, sinuses, throat, nose, lungs, etc. turning it into mucus, water, and phlegm. Viruses and bacteria seriously breed in watery, stagnant mediums (urine, cysts, phlegm, mucus, etc.) before festering and inflaming.

Children are prone to middle ear infections. As children are still in the process of development, they tend to be cold and weak. This lack of heat and energy and weakness makes them quite vulnerable to damp and cold, both internal and external.

The internal body derives heat in various ways: through locomotion, circulation, digestion, etc., and all of them are fueled and heated by fat, protein, nutrients, and blood. Fat and protein fuel and build the function and structure inside the body.

A huge source of heat within the body is digestion. Digestion and the bile and enzymes in the small intestines (28 ft long) and the abdomen, as well as acid can be activated by eating three square meals a day. This, in turn, produces heat, much in the same way a car is heated by its engine. Digestion creates heat that rises naturally to the ears, sinuses, nose, mouth, throat, and lungs drying and heating.

The lungs as well as the sinuses, nose, and throat are naturally moist. Water and moisture improve the exchange of gases (carbon dioxide and oxygen).Too little or too much water and moisture weaken the exchange, resulting in the disruption of breathing as well as inflammation and infection.

Children commonly suffer from weak digestion which creates less heat, resulting in a drop in temperature and subsequent moistening (phlegm, mucus, and water) and cooling of the throat, nose lungs, etc. In the evening and night time, cold temperatures naturally condense water in the air,turning it into morning dew. Cold temperatures in winter harden and thicken water in the air turning it into ice, snow, and rain. Colder temperatures in the body harden and thicken water in the sinuses, throat, nose, and lungs turning it into phlegm and mucus.

Low fat and low protein products (seeds, nuts, beans, cottage cheese, yogurt, and milk) as well as high carbohydrate foods, consumed in excessive amounts can dilute, cool, and weaken immunity (make one prone to the flu and colds), the ears (inflammation, infection, water), respiration (phlegm, mucus), elimination (loose stools), and digestion (enzymes, acids) among others. Cereal and milk are damp cold as is orange juice. Building and warming foods such as hot cereals with a little ginger or cinnamon are recommended.

The middle diet that includes spices (ginger, cayenne, fennel, coriander, cumin, etc.) is very much recommended. Spices should be used in desserts, stews, soups, etc. Spices promote dry dampness and digestion: too much fluid will result in cellulite, edema, loose stools, phlegm, mucus, etc. Cinnamon or ginger can be used in desserts and cookies. Fruits (pineapple, apples, etc.) and vegetables (yams, carrots) can be used as sweeteners, to deflate sugar cravings. Fats, protein, stews, soups, and cooked foods warm and stimulate the digestive organs, lungs, etc. Cold drinks, shakes, smoothies, tropical fruits, salads, ice cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, and milk moisten and cool the body.

To dry dampness in the ear you can use peppermint or garlic oil drops in the ear which can also kill the viruses and bacteria causing the inflammation and infection.

Dr. Jeda Boughton is a licensed acupuncture physician and the medical director of BodaHealth in Vancouver, BC.

Written by Valerie

January 17th, 2017 at 12:33 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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