Most people know that plants and flowers follow a particular seasonal rhythm. However, did you know that you have a seasonal rhythm too? Chinese medicine provides the perfect wisdom to use these rhythms to optimize your health in the winter.
According to the ancient wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine, each season links to a specific type of energy and specific organ systems.
Just like plants and flowers, your body, mind, and spirit need certain things each season to thrive. Following seasonal rhythms boosts your immune system and keeps you healthy all season long.
This article examines how to use simple wisdom from traditional Chinese medicine to optimize your health in winter.
We will explore:
- What is the energy of winter and why does it matter?
- Practical tips you can do at home to align with the energy of winter.
- What organ systems need the most support for optimal health in winter and why?
- Practical tips you can do at home best nourish your systems to optimize your health in winter
What is the energy of winter and why does it matter?
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers winter a time of hibernation, reflection, and planning. Hibernation, of course, is metaphorical. You should not become anti-social and shut people out of your life because it’s winter.
However, just like tulip bulbs must spend winter in the ground to bloom in the spring, you also need time to go inside, rest, and replenish your reserves. You can use the winter care tips below to align with the energy of hibernation to optimize your health in winter.
Winter Care Tip #1: Use the energy of hibernation to slow down.
- The winter is an excellent season to practice slowing down and refueling after a busy year.
- Remember that you are not helping anyone if you are sick or depleted.
- Give your body time to rest, repair, and recharge.
Winter Care Tip #2: Use the energy of hibernation to look within and reflect on your life.
- See if things are playing out as you’d like.
- What went well over the past year? What did not go so well? What specifically would you like to see or do differently?
- Reflection and planning lay the groundwork for the entire year ahead, including what “seeds” you will plant come spring.
What organ systems need the most support for optimal health in winter and why?
Traditional Chinese Medicine associates winter with the kidney and urinary bladder systems and consider the kidneys the “gate of life.” So, it is increasingly important to take care of the kidneys as you age.
Many things are dependent on the health of your kidneys, including reproduction, development, fluid distribution, and longevity.
For instance, signs of weakening kidneys include hair loss, premature graying or split ends, issues with the low back, knees, and teeth, and low sex drive.
Also, the emotion of the kidneys/urinary bladder is fear. Maybe this fear comes from knowing you need to start something new. Perhaps you are not confident that you can do better than last year.
Fear can disrupt forward momentum and the overall quality of your life. No matter what the fear is, supplementing and caring for your kidneys is very important to combat this fear.
So, how do you nourish your kidneys for maximum winter health?
The most important thing you can do for your kidneys during winter is KEEP WARM both inside and out.
According to Chinese medicine, when the body gets cold, it has to work harder and is less relaxed. Cold inside the body depletes your inner resources.
Keeping the body warm will relax it and the internal organs will work more efficiently. A warm body means a more resilient immune system.
You can use the additional winter care tips below to keep the body warm inside and out to optimize your health in winter.
Winter Care Tip #3: Keep Your Feet Warm.
- To nourish the kidneys, try to keep your feet warm.
- Wherever possible, take more hot baths instead of showers.
- The key here is to KEEP WARM and prevent the extreme cold from entering the body.
Winter Care Tip #4: Add light exercise to your daily routine.
- In the winter, the cold causes the body to constrict.
- Overcome this by adding light exercise into your daily routines. The movement will keep your muscles warm and joints lubricated.
Winter Care Tip #5: Stay indoors OR dress appropriately outdoors.
- Stay indoors when the weather is frigid and windy. Doing so is an excellent way to prevent cold from entering the body in times of weak immunity.
- If staying indoors is impractical, make sure you have dressed appropriately.
Winter Care Tip #6: Make warming and heart-nourishing foods.
- Warming and heart-nourishing foods keep winter blues away.
- Examples of energetically warm foods are anchovies, bay leaves, chestnuts, chicken, coriander, fennel, leek, mussels, mutton, nutmeg, pine nuts, rosemary, sweet potatoes, and walnuts.
- Here’s an excellent example of a delicious warming soup to try.
Winter Care Tip #7: Support digestion with well-cooked food.
- Since digestion is critical in the colder months, use slow cookers and make stews and congees to add extra warmth to your food and aid digestion.
- If you have trouble digesting winter foods, supplement with digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes will help cut down on phlegm, runny noses, earaches, and respiratory problems.
Our aim is always to help your body, mind, and spirit fall back into their natural rhythms. By following these seven simple tips to optimize your health this winter, you’ll improve your immune system and increase your chances of staying healthy and well.
Of course, we’re always here to help when health concerns arise with 100% holistic care no matter the issue. We’ve given over 18,000 treatments and counting, so we’ve seen pretty much every woman’s health and fertility issue, hormonal issue, or chronic illness out there.
We know how to awaken your body’s natural resources using a unique combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medications, targeted nutritional support, and mind-body medicine.
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*This article was originally published in November of 2012 and updated for clarity in January of 2022.
About the Author
Michael Hurley, L.Ac. Michael is the co-founder and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center located at 82 Washington Street Suite 2 in Keene, NH. (603) 352-3625. He specializes in Women’s Health and Fertility. Michael holds a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM), one of the top-rated acupuncture schools in the country. He is nationally certified with the NCCAOM and licensed by the State of New Hampshire to perform acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. Additionally, Michael is certified in 5-Element Functional Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine.
**This article’s content, information, opinions, and viewpoints are intended for educational purposes only and should not form a basis for self-diagnosis.