In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is a time to rest, restore energy, slow down, and recover. A time to meditate profoundly and a time for introspection.
In Chinese medicine, every season corresponds to an element, and winter is associated with the water element. Here are some other winter-season associations:
Organs: Kidney and Bladder
Color: Black and dark blue
The Kidneys are considered “the root of life” and the “source of all energy” in the body in Chinese medicine. Therefore, it is important to nourish them year-round but especially this season.
What to do to stay healthy this season?
1. Rest is a priority. Go to bed early and wake up later when possible. Restore so you're ready for the warmer months ahead.
2. Even though rest is essential during this season, staying active is imperative to keep your spine and joints flexible. Gentle exercises like yoga, Tai chi, pilates, stretching, and walking are excellent options.
3. Slow down, not only physically but mentally as well. Focus on soul-nourishing activities like reading, writing, journaling, and meditating. Take time to pay attention and listen to your body and soul.
4. Since salt is the taste of the water element, eat salty foods, but not excessively. Some salty foods include miso, soy sauce, seaweeds, millet, barely, and foods made salty by the addition of salt. Remember, everything is better in moderation.
5. Eat warming foods like soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts, especially on cold days. It is better to cook foods longer and at lower temperatures, as it makes them easier to digest. Avoid raw and cold foods like salads, iced drinks, and smoothies. Instead of cold salads, roast, bake, or stir-fry your vegetables.
6. Eat foods that nourish the kidneys, such as black beans, kidney beans, black sesame seeds, broths cooked with bones, lamb, chicken, walnuts, chestnuts, and dark leafy greens.
7. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to protect the kidneys and bladder.
8. Stay warm. Cover your feet and neck, and wear scarves and sweaters.
9. And don’t forget to wash your hands, to keep away viruses and bacteria!
Acupuncture point to Strengthen the Kidneys
Kidney 3. An important point to strengthen the kidneys, promote uterine function, and regulate menses; and to strengthen the lower back, waist, and knees. It is also said that increases longevity.
Kidney 3 is located in the inner ankle, in the depression between the Achilles tendon and the inner ankle bone (medial malleolus).
Massage this point in a circular motion for 30 seconds, 2 to 3 times daily.
Chinese medicine suggests following the changes in nature and living according to the seasons to live in balance and harmony and to stay healthy. So wise and truthful!
Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, California. North Atlantic books.
Connelly, DM. (1992). Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements. Columbia, Maryland. The Centre for Traditional Acupuncture, Inc.