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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Warming Up...Naturally: Calming the Cold’s Ailments

Feb 03, 2015 07:34PM ● By Lauressa Nelson

Winter is a difficult season for many people, and although by most standards Florida’s winter is mild, we in the Panhandle, like most Floridians, consider ourselves “thin-blooded” and experience notable effects when the temperature drops. These may include achy joints, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions; allergy symptoms such as watery eyes and a runny nose; dry skin and even the depressed or sluggish moods typically associated with northern climates.

Natural Awakenings presents the suggestions of several local health experts on how to rev up the body and keep ourselves feeling toasty, balanced and healthy during the chilly month of February. They offer energy-boosting physical exercises; thermogenic foods, beverages and herbs; essential oils; and modalities that support the hypothalamus and other components of the endocrine system, which are responsible for regulating the body’s temperature.

Essential Oils

Laurie Azzarella, an educator and sponsor of Young Living Essential Oils and an instructor at the International Institute of Reflexology, comments: “Young Living Thieves Oil blend contains the warming oils of clove, cinnamon, rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus, and can be very effective in supporting the immune system during the cold and flu season. I like to rub a few drops on my feet every day and spray my throat with Young Living Thieves Spray when I feel a sore throat coming on. If necessary, I add a few drops in a capsule and take internally to help punch out a cold or flu.”


Herbalist Kathy Hubbard adds about plant-based foods and remedies, “Our bodies slow down in winter in response to the shorter, colder days. This means our metabolism and digestion slow, as well. This is not the time to eat hard-to-digest raw foods, but rather roasted vegetables, sautéed greens and warming spices in foods and teas.

“Ginger is a favorite winter spice. It helps boost metabolism. Also, because ginger is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, analgesic and a circulatory stimulant, it is great for the aching joints and arthritic conditions that become more noticeable in cold weather. 

“Cinnamon is another warming spice that, thanks to its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, can help keep us well and can aid digestion. Ways to incorporate this great spice into the diet are baked apples with added cinnamon or hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick. Add cinnamon to oatmeal for a hearty breakfast. Get antioxidants and antibacterial ‘meds’ by adding a cinnamon stick to any hot tea. Rid the home of the winter blues by simmering a pot of water containing cinnamon sticks on the stove.”

Eastern Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers additional ways to stimulate depressed, weak or stagnant energy, according to Acupuncture Physician Sheryl Roe, at Navarre Healing Arts Center and 8th Element Wellness in Fort Walton Beach, who was a registered nurse for more than 20 years and integrates her knowledge of Western medicine, pain management, acupuncture and Eastern medicine into a functional medical model. She remarks, “In TCM, there is a protective layer around the exterior the body called wei qi, or defensive energy. By strengthening this energy, we can greatly enhance the body’s ability to adapt in times of stress, as well as to heal, prevent illness and increase energy. Acupuncture not only stimulates wei qi, but also stimulates the qi (energy) deeper in the body to assist on many levels with health and wellness, relief from pain and soreness and many other issues. Basically, by recharging your battery and regenerating this vital energy, people can look and feel their best.

“Along with acupuncture, other modalities, such as cupping and gua sha can help, particularly with the pain and stiffness that comes from overdoing activities or restarting them, as in a New Year’s resolution. Cupping therapy opens the meridians (energy pathways), so that the internal energy is able to flow through the whole body. Cupping therapy also triggers the lymphatic system, clears the blood vessels and enables the release of toxins.

“Gua sha involves palpation and cutaneous stimulation; the skin is pressured in strokes by a round-edged instrument. This results in the appearance of small petechiae (red or purple spots on the skin caused by broken capillaries) called sha that will fade in two to three days. Raising sha removes blood stagnation considered pathogenic, promoting normal circulation and metabolic processes. The patient experiences immediate relief from pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, nausea and similar issues.”

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic Physician Brian Schuessler, owner of Pro-Active Chiropractic, treats many patients that experience stiffness during the cold, but says most of them do not realize the value of chiropractic adjustments in maximizing their immune systems. “Correcting spinal subluxations, or misalignments, are an effective method for maximizing your immune system’s potential,” he says. “Spinal subluxations, symptomatic or not, collectively reduce the maximum expression of your immune system. Here at Pro-Active Chiropractic, we offer many different gentle and extremely effective techniques to correct these spinal subluxations when found. We also offer the very latest in therapeutic laser technology, the MLS Laser, which has been shown to improve the immune system.”

Massage Therapies and Infrared Sauna

Licensed Massage Therapist Christie Morgan, co-owner of 8th Element Wellness, LLC, in Fort Walton Beach, who specializes in pain management massage and a blend of therapeutic massage techniques aimed at de-stressing the body and mind, adds some practical considerations. “As massage therapists here in Florida, we often notice that our clients drink less in the winter months. Decreasing water intake can dehydrate the soft tissues in our bodies, leaving our muscles starving for oxygen,” advises Morgan. “Add the cold temperatures, and the body gets stiff and less agile. It’s like wringing out a sponge and leaving it out in cold air to dry and harden. Most of us don’t crave cold water with cold temperature, so soups and warm beverages may help to get the correct amount of fluid into the body; just be mindful to keep sodium and caffeine intake to a minimum.

“Also, we sweat less in the winter, so using an infrared sauna like the one we have at 8th Element Wellness is a good way to warm up the body and decrease injuries. It can create a detox effect to cleanse the muscles and skin, as well. Drink plenty of water before activities that induce perspiration.

“Sunshine is a mood enhancer that helps with vitamin D production. Taking walks in the sunshine alleviates stress and keeps the immune system in check to fight off colds and flus. To avoid stiffness in the muscles of the neck, lower back and other areas vulnerable to stiffness, reduced mobility and subsequent pain, keep them warm by wearing a great scarf and a long jacket.”

Heated Yoga

Exercise is a sure way to work up a sweat that lifts the spirit and leaves behind a warm glow. Teri Harnett, a registered yoga teacher and co-owner of Yoga Junkie Studio, in Niceville, points out that moving the body causes internal heat to ignite and the cardiovascular system to activate. “A yoga class that incorporates some type of flowing movement, rather than simply holding static postures, is the perfect place to start,” she enthuses. “A more vigorous or heated yoga class is a great way to warm up naturally while improving your psychological and mental well-being. The addition of heat to the yoga class invites the muscles to warm faster and the skin to act as a detoxification organ as the body perspires.”

Stretching and Breathing

Susan Clark, the owner of Pure Pilates, with locations in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze, is a physical therapist assistant and a certified instructor of Pilates, Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis and Balanced Body Barre. She advises, “Pilates-based stretching techniques and breathing exercises are a great way to keep the body from stiffening due to the cold or daily stresses. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling out the mouth to draw the deep abdominals in towards the spine creates a natural support for the hips and lower back during any exercise routine. By placing the focus on deep breathing, not only do the abdominals engage, but also the neck and shoulders relax to help you deepen the stretch into the muscles of the legs, back and arms. Injury occurs by rushing through exercises without paying attention to form.”


Lauressa Nelson is a contributing editor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.

Local Resources for Staying Well in Winter

Laurie Azzarella. 850-380-4943.

Susan Clark, Pure Pilates. 221 Gulf Breeze Pkwy., Gulf Breeze; 850-932-3424. 426 S. Palafox St., Pensacola; 850-607-2772;

Teri Harnett and Kristy Souto, Yoga Junkie Studio. 1157 John Sims Pkwy., Niceville; 850-279-6980;

Kathy Hubbard. 850-748-3149;

Christie Morgan. 8th Element Wellness. 90 Beal Pkwy. NE, Ste. A-1, FWB; 850-301-0081.

Dr. Sheryl Roe, Navarre Healing Arts Center. 7552 Navarre Pkwy., Ste. 44, Navarre; 850-225-3460;

Dr. Brian Schuessler, Pro Active Chiropractic.4591 Hwy. 20E, Ste. 201, Niceville; 850-279-4913;

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