Although spring is near, Melbourne likes to hang on to winter for another month or two! Latest reports suggest we have had the worse flu season in 15 years. Our acupuncturist, Karolina Cass explains from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective how winter can affect the body.
By the end of winter we may be fatigued, burnt out, suffering lower back or knee pain, feeling the cold easily (especially in those areas), hormonal issues or bladder issues.
Winter is associated with the water element, and its corresponding organs are the Kidneys and Bladder. Their role in our bodies is to store our essence, govern birth, growth, and reproduction. They help distribute water throughout the body, house our will power, and maintain our energy levels. Therefore, winter may result in disharmony and depletion within out kidney and bladder which then results in the above symptoms.
The emotion that is associated with winter is fear. Like winter’s still and dark days and night, this is the time of year to sit still and go deep within. It’s time to face the deepest and darkest parts of ourselves, to grow as a person. Really listen to what our body, mind, and soul desires, and be prepared to let go of what is no longer required in your life. When fear is out of balance, we begin living our lives in a constant state of fight or flight. This can delete your energy reserves, and cause adrenal fatigue.
Foods to eat
Foods to eat during winter are: ginger, garlic, ginseng, onion, slow cooked meals, congee, bone broth soups and stews, black coloured foods are associated with winter such as black beans, black tea, liquorice, and black sesames seeds. Drink plenty of room temperature water, herbal teas (especially black tea), and kombutcha. These foods are warming to the body and take the burden of the stomach to digest them.
Things to do in winter:
- Always wear a scarf, or clothes that protect the neck and throat area. Ensure you are covered up, or avoid going out in the cold if you have been sweating and the pores are still open. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes the evil pathogenic wind gets into the body via the neck. There are points around the neck translated as Wind screen, Wind pool, and Wind palace that help expel the wind out of the body. That’s why when you first get sick with a cold, you tend to get a stiff neck and upper back.
- Eat warm and cooked foods that are in season. Avoid cold, raw, and out of season foods, as well as dairy. The weather is cold outside, so you need to focus on keeping the internal body warm. Avoid cold and raw foods, as it’s believed that the stomach and spleen prefer a warm environment to help digest the food. It also makes it easier for the stomach to digest the food (and uses less qi) to help digest food when it has been cooked and broken down. Cold is seen as constricting and slowing qi and blood down to the area. Dairy is considered to cause phlegm and damp in the body, therefore causes obstructions.
- Don’t go outside with wet hair. Need to keep the neck area especially covered, warm and protected during the colder months, to prevent pathogens entering that sensitive area.
- Lots of sleep and rest, winter is the time for hibernation. This relates to the emotions attached to the winter organs (Kidneys and Bladder). Like animals and nature around us, winter is seen as a time to rest and hibernate to prepare for the upcoming spring months which is seen as a time for growth. Otherwise you could overuse your Kidney energy and burnout (adrenal issues).
- Meditation and deep breath work, tai chi and qi gong exercises. There are certain exercises that are good to open up the lung qi and strengthen the body’s immune system. Also practicing deep breathing right down into the belly, helps circulate blood and qi throughout the body, rather than keeping the breath stuck around the chest area.
If you can relate to these symptoms and are feeling flat at the end of winter. Why not book your appointment now with Karolina. Bookings can be made online or on the phone 9372 9912.