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« Winter disease & summer treatment »

This year (2023), the period from July 16 to August 15 marks what Chinese medicine calls "Winter disease, summer treatment" period ([dōng bìng xià zhì, 冬病夏治]). As the name suggests, it consists of treating during the hottest period of the summer (the 3 hottest days actually), diseases that tend to manifest or worsen in winter (and autumn). This process is based on the fundamental theory of Chinese medicine, according to which:

  • if "the yáng weakens, the cold dominates";

  • when "the cold dominates, it is necessary to warm";

  • "when the disease is in a chronic stage, treat the cause“; and

  • in order to preserve life “in spring and summer, nourish the yáng”.


Yīn and yáng forces in the human body are affected by the changes of yīn and yáng of a larger realm in Nature. Yīn represents that which is relatively cold and still, while yáng represents warmth and movement. The characteristic of the cold is to cool and slow down the movement, until it is blocked. However, the proper functioning of physiological processes depends on the free circulation of yáng Qì, which moves blood and body fluids and is the source of transformations. The best time to fight cold-type illnesses is therefore when the cycle of nature is totally against it, during the hottest time of the year. During this period, the yáng Qì can be nourished more effectively, because strengthening it is accentuating the natural cycle. In common Chinese language, we say "借天地之阳气通一身之经脉" (Jiè tiāndì zhī yáng qì tōng yīshēn zhī jīngmài), or "take advantage of the yáng Qì of Heaven and Earth to promote the movement of the meridians in all the body".

The treatment “Winter diseases, summer treatment” is carried out by sticking Chinese herbal preparations on the skin in the form of patches. It can also be accompanied by moxibustion (burnt mugwort) and acupuncture. While is naturally more on the surface during this time of year, skin pores are more relaxed, blood circulation is faster, and movement in the meridians is relatively freer. The medicinal preparation therefore penetrates more easily from the surface inwards and its action is facilitated.



The purpose of this therapy is to chase away the pathological cold nature that is causing many chronic diseases that appear or worsen during the coldest months of the year. Diseases of the respiratory system are strongly represented: cough, bronchitis, asthma, rhinitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, etc., whether these pathologies are of allergic origin or not. In the digestive, pediatric, gynecological and orthopedic field, the principle also applies, and therefore this type of treatment also makes it possible to treat other cold-related pathologies such as articular rheumatism, diarrhea, menstrual pain, enuresis (bed wetting) in children, etc. Usually repeated over a three-year cycle, this therapy can reduce the intensity and/or frequency of chronic symptoms in adults as well as in toddlers, or even make them disappear.



The Chinese plants used are obtained from specialised pharmacies in Switzerland. They are varied and depend on the experience of the specialist, but they share common characteristics, namely their ability to warm and circulate and blood, in addition to having specific functions. The powdered plants are mixed with ginger juice to obtain a pasty preparation which is applied several times during this period, on specific acupuncture points on the back, stomach, chest or limbs.

Like any medical treatment, there can be reactions. If the skin becomes locally reddish, pigmented with slight itching, this corresponds to a normal reaction of the skin. On the other hand, if the skin is very irritating, burning, or even painful, the preparation must be removed immediately and the irritated surface must not be rubbed and other ointments or gels must not be applied without first notifying the specialist. Any more serious reaction requires the opinion of a dermatologist. During application, avoid smoking and ingesting alcohol or fatty, spicy and cold products.


Finally, this treatment is not suitable for everyone, nor for just any disease. For example, for pneumonia, infectious diseases with acute fever, skin diseases, skin ulcers, pregnant women, people with pacemakers, this treatment is generally not recommended. In general, patients who are diagnosed in Chinese medicine with overactive yáng or deficient yīn with internal heat should not use this therapy.


Hope this was useful. For further information and to find out if you can benefit from this type of treatment, do not hesitate to contact me.

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