Keeping Healthy in Winter

Keeping Healthy in Winter

Winter Time is Kidney Time

Chinese Medicine observes that our body mirrors many of nature’s patterns. Winter is the most Yin time of the year-cold, dark, stillness. Because the nights are longer and the days become shorter, winter is considered a time of hibernation and slowing down, making room for inner reflection and meditation. Certainly a good time to make that healthy New Year’s resolution!

For a healthy immune system, Kidneys are the primary source of energy, heat, vitality, and Jing (essence). Kidneys element is water, their season is winter, and black is their influential colour. Winter is a good time to restore energy and Qi especially from certain foods and suggested herbal supplements from a qualified practitioner.

Here are some tips in keeping you vitalized through old man winter;

Black is the colour for kidney and foods such as black pepper, black beans, black sesame seeds, black lentils, dark seaweed, and dark coloured root vegetables strengthen Kidney. Avoid cold or raw foods as this dampens your digestive fire in the winter. Adding ginger, cinnamon, clove, cayenne, leeks, garlic or onion to your dishes is a way of keeping that digestive fire going. Soups and stews with lamb, shrimp, mussels, split peas or winter squash are full of warmth as well as walnuts and raspberries to nourish and conserve energy.

Feeling cold? Using Moxibustion alone or together with Acupuncture is an effective way to drive away that inner chill and replenish the inner fire. A compressed lit herbal stick made of Mugwort used by a TCM practitioner, Moxibustion radiates heat to Acupuncture points restoring vital energy for a healthier immune system. As well, the use of a heating pad especially around your core and the lower back is a way of keeping the primary source of vital Kidney fire stoked. Wear layers as staying warm in cold climate consumes energy. When outside, keep in the heat with a warm hat, gloves and especially a scarf to protect the chest and back of the neck from the chilly wind.

During the cold dark winter days, fear and depression have more influence on your mood due to lack of sun exposure. Get outside into the sunlight for a brisk walk when you can to boost your mood.
Stay limber to beat stagnation with Yoga or Tai Chi but don’t overdo it! Winter is a time for healing and growth. It’s okay to take time out, relax and put your feet up. Going to bed early or sleeping longer is a way of staying in tune with the natural winter environment.

Self care is essential in maintaining a healthy and harmonious life. By fortifying Kidneys during winter months, this encourages rejuvenation and healing to other organs for the coming seasons. Spring is only just around the corner so embrace winter with spirit and warmth.

Tina Taylor R.TCM.P.