Drinking Ice-Cold Water Could Have Risks, TCM Practitioner Explains

For some, drinking ice cold water feels refreshing—yet, its benefits are open for debate.Many people enjoy drinking ice water, but its health effects have long been debated. Numerous studies have shown that there are both benefits and drawbacks to it. Dr. Yeh Chi-Min, the attending physician of Taiwan Weixin Clinic of Chinese Medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner, warned that a persistent craving for ice water might indicate an underlying health issue and provided advice on who should limit their consumption of it.The Effects of Drinking Ice Water on Certain Health ConditionsAchalasia is a swallowing disorder in which the lower esophageal sphincter fails to relax, preventing food from entering the stomach. A study published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility found that drinking ice water at 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit exacerbated the symptoms of achalasia. The study revealed that low temperatures increased the resting pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter, prolonged esophageal contraction, and worsened swallowing difficulties.Additionally, drinking cold water may trigger migraines. A study involving 669 female participants found that 51 of them (approximately 8 percent) experienced headaches after drinking a glass of cold water. The study also discovered that women who had experienced migraines in the past year were twice as likely to develop headaches after drinking cold water compared to those who had never had migraines.An earlier study published in 1978 found that drinking cold water decreases nasal mucus velocity in healthy subjects. This suggests that drinking cold water may worsen nasal congestion in patients with upper respiratory tract infections.Benefits of Ice Water for Specific GroupsPatients undergoing chemotherapy often experience taste disorders, affecting their eating habits and nutritional status. An animal study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2020 indicated that drinking ice-cold water alleviated the suppressive effects of anticancer drugs on taste perception in mice. The researchers believe that using ice chips for oral cryotherapy may help prevent taste disorders induced by anticancer drugs.Furthermore, a randomized controlled trial showed that athletes competing in triathlons in hot conditions could improve their performance by consuming ice slurry during the race.Ice Water Cravings May Indicate Underlying Health IssuesRitsugaku Ken, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner at the Acupuncture and  Moxibustion Clinic of Kurashiki Heisei Hospital in Japan, explained in an interview with The Epoch Times that the human body has a natural ability to regulate its temperature. However, he cautioned that long-term consumption of cold water can disrupt this ability, leading to an imbalance in the body’s temperature regulation.The anatomical spleen plays a crucial role in our immune system by producing white blood cells. However, in TCM, the spleen is closely linked with the stomach—which together play key roles in the digestion and absorption of nutrients in the body. Drinking cold water can harm the function of the spleen and stomach. This impaired function can affect the body’s ability to metabolize water, potentially causing symptoms such as edema and abdominal distension.Furthermore, Dr. Yeh told The Epoch Times that if a person is in a constant state of feeling excessively hot and wanting to cool down by drinking a glass of ice water, it might be a sign of an underlying health issue.Related StoriesIn TCM, the circulation of qi—the energy that constitutes life—and blood maintains the balance and stability of various tissues and organs. When there is an imbalance or deficiency of qi and blood in the body, diseases or other conditions may occur.Dr. Yeh explained that when the circulation of qi and blood is smooth and sweating is unobstructed, excess body heat can be efficiently dispelled, thereby reducing the desire for ice water. Conversely, if there is stagnation or obstruction in the circulation, one may experience restlessness, thirst, and a craving for cold drinks or icy foods (such as popsicles, and smoothies). In such cases, consulting a TCM practitioner may be beneficial.When to Avoid Drinking Ice WaterDr. Yeh provided a simple way to test if you can tolerate drinking ice water: Hold a glass of ice water with one hand. If you can hold it for more than one minute without feeling pain, it indicates that your body can tolerate cold drinks to a certain extent. However, since everyone’s body is different, this method may not be suitable for everyone.Dr. Yeh pointed out that the visceral nerves are less sensitive than the skin’s surface, therefore, a lack of reaction from the stomach does not necessarily mean it can handle extreme temperatures. If you find it challenging to hold ice water in your hand for more than a minute, it may indicate that your body cannot tolerate such cold directly entering the stomac

Drinking Ice-Cold Water Could Have Risks, TCM Practitioner Explains

.

For some, drinking ice cold water feels refreshing—yet, its benefits are open for debate.

Many people enjoy drinking ice water, but its health effects have long been debated. Numerous studies have shown that there are both benefits and drawbacks to it. Dr. Yeh Chi-Min, the attending physician of Taiwan Weixin Clinic of Chinese Medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner, warned that a persistent craving for ice water might indicate an underlying health issue and provided advice on who should limit their consumption of it.
.

The Effects of Drinking Ice Water on Certain Health Conditions

Achalasia is a swallowing disorder in which the lower esophageal sphincter fails to relax, preventing food from entering the stomach. A study published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility found that drinking ice water at 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit exacerbated the symptoms of achalasia. The study revealed that low temperatures increased the resting pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter, prolonged esophageal contraction, and worsened swallowing difficulties.
Additionally, drinking cold water may trigger migraines. A study involving 669 female participants found that 51 of them (approximately 8 percent) experienced headaches after drinking a glass of cold water. The study also discovered that women who had experienced migraines in the past year were twice as likely to develop headaches after drinking cold water compared to those who had never had migraines.
An earlier study published in 1978 found that drinking cold water decreases nasal mucus velocity in healthy subjects. This suggests that drinking cold water may worsen nasal congestion in patients with upper respiratory tract infections.
.

Benefits of Ice Water for Specific Groups

Patients undergoing chemotherapy often experience taste disorders, affecting their eating habits and nutritional status. An animal study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2020 indicated that drinking ice-cold water alleviated the suppressive effects of anticancer drugs on taste perception in mice. The researchers believe that using ice chips for oral cryotherapy may help prevent taste disorders induced by anticancer drugs.
Furthermore, a randomized controlled trial showed that athletes competing in triathlons in hot conditions could improve their performance by consuming ice slurry during the race.
.

Ice Water Cravings May Indicate Underlying Health Issues

Ritsugaku Ken, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner at the Acupuncture and  Moxibustion Clinic of Kurashiki Heisei Hospital in Japan, explained in an interview with The Epoch Times that the human body has a natural ability to regulate its temperature. However, he cautioned that long-term consumption of cold water can disrupt this ability, leading to an imbalance in the body’s temperature regulation.

The anatomical spleen plays a crucial role in our immune system by producing white blood cells. However, in TCM, the spleen is closely linked with the stomach—which together play key roles in the digestion and absorption of nutrients in the body. Drinking cold water can harm the function of the spleen and stomach. This impaired function can affect the body’s ability to metabolize water, potentially causing symptoms such as edema and abdominal distension.

Furthermore, Dr. Yeh told The Epoch Times that if a person is in a constant state of feeling excessively hot and wanting to cool down by drinking a glass of ice water, it might be a sign of an underlying health issue.

In TCM, the circulation of qi—the energy that constitutes life—and blood maintains the balance and stability of various tissues and organs. When there is an imbalance or deficiency of qi and blood in the body, diseases or other conditions may occur.

Dr. Yeh explained that when the circulation of qi and blood is smooth and sweating is unobstructed, excess body heat can be efficiently dispelled, thereby reducing the desire for ice water. Conversely, if there is stagnation or obstruction in the circulation, one may experience restlessness, thirst, and a craving for cold drinks or icy foods (such as popsicles, and smoothies). In such cases, consulting a TCM practitioner may be beneficial.

.

When to Avoid Drinking Ice Water

Dr. Yeh provided a simple way to test if you can tolerate drinking ice water: Hold a glass of ice water with one hand. If you can hold it for more than one minute without feeling pain, it indicates that your body can tolerate cold drinks to a certain extent. However, since everyone’s body is different, this method may not be suitable for everyone.

Dr. Yeh pointed out that the visceral nerves are less sensitive than the skin’s surface, therefore, a lack of reaction from the stomach does not necessarily mean it can handle extreme temperatures. If you find it challenging to hold ice water in your hand for more than a minute, it may indicate that your body cannot tolerate such cold directly entering the stomach. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid drinking ice water or eating icy foods.

Additionally, he recommends avoiding drinking ice water in the following three circumstances:

1. During menstruation: Ice water can cause stagnation of qi and blood, hindering blood circulation. Drinking ice water during menstruation may lead to menstrual pain and irregular periods. Women prone to menstrual pain should also limit ice water consumption outside of their menstrual period.

2. After exercise: Blood vessels in the extremities expand after physical activities. Drinking ice water can cause these blood vessels to suddenly contract. Therefore, it is recommended to opt for room temperature or warm water during this period. Ice water should be consumed only after the body has cooled down and sweating has subsided.

3. Those prone to colds: People who often have colds should avoid drinking ice water.

.