Keep your neck covered!
We all know to wash our hands when they are dirty, to cover our mouths when we cough, and to stay home when we have a fever. But have you ever been told to keep your neck warm and covered when it is cold and windy outside?
In a Yale study, mouse airway cells were exposed to the common cold under two conditions. The first when the cells were at normal core mouse-body temperature, and the second when the cells were at lower-than-normal core mouse-body temperature. They found that the cells at normal body temperature exhibited a better immune system response. This is the value of keeping your neck warm.
Chinese medicine warns of wind and cold exposure. It tells us that when it is cold or windy outside, you should cover the back of your neck. This part of the body is particularly susceptible to the cold. Heat sensors at the base of the brain, which is at the back of the neck, help to regulate body temperature and react to this exposure.
Outdoor runners would benefit from a neck covering. As sweat evaporates, the unprotected muscles can get a chill. Providing a covering maintains the blood flow to your neck keeping it toasty and warm. You might also consider wearing a scarf after exercising because your pores are open and more susceptible.
A stiff neck is one sign that you have been exposed to a “cold wind.” Remedy this before you show symptoms. Try making a scallion tea. Thinly slice a scallion from the white end of the bulb to the light green part. Add the slices to two cups of boiling water, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drink while warm. If you prefer you may add a tablespoon of white miso to the tea and have as a soup.
Another way to counteract exposure is to take a 20-minute warm bath with a cup of Epsom salt. Dry off, bundle up and go to bed! There are other influencers that can act to the benefit of your immune system: practice good stress management, keep a sleep routine and eat a healthy diet.