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Maintaining Health in Winter with Chinese Medicine

The ancient Chinese believed that living in harmony with the seasons of nature could prevent disease and promote health.  Winter is the most yin season when the flow of energy is cold, damp, slow and inward.  The days are shorter, and darkness comes early.

The organs associated with winter are the kidneys and bladder. Today, I want to discuss the kidneys.  The kidneys hold our body’s fundamental energy, the Jing chi or essence.  To strengthen kidney energy, it is important to get adequate rest and spend time in self-reflection and meditation.  Practices such as Tai Chi and yoga help to relax body, mind, and spirit, and connect us to our inner selves.

The kidney energy is also associated with our ears and bones.  Our hearing ability is connected to the health of the kidneys.  We can hear more clearly in the stillness of winter than in the activity of the spring and summer.

Bone broths are a good way to tonify kidney energy and nourish the bones which produce Jing Chi.  Other foods which support the kidneys include:

  • rye
  • oats
  • miso
  • quinoa
  • seaweeds
  • salt
  • warm
  • hearty soups
  • roasted nuts
  • black beans
  • black rice

Prolonged extreme stress harms the kidneys. It is also recommended to avoid excess salt and anything in excess.

www. Chinesemedicineliving.com/Living According to the winter season…

The Energy of Fall

fall colorsIn ancient China and Japan peopled structured their lives to live in harmony with nature; their practices and eating habits changed with the change of seasons. Living as part of the natural world, they maintained balance and optimal health.

The fall season is associated with the metal element “which governs organization, order, communication, the mind, setting limits and protecting boundaries.  It’s a good time to finish projects” that were begun in spring and summer. It’s also a time for self-introspection and releasing that which is no longer needed.

The organs associated with the fall are lung and large intestine.  The lungs are very sensitive to wind and cold, so it’s important to dress for the weather.  The lungs also control the wei-qi or protective energy which runs just under the skin and helps to warm the body.  When we catch a cold or flu the wei-qi has been weakened.  This also explains why we feel cold.

The energy of the large intestine helps us to release physical waste and old ideas or mindsets which no longer serve us.  Like spring, this is a perfect time to clean house to prepare for the change in weather.

Autumn brings shorter days, cooler weather and harvest time.  Some healthy tips for fall:

  • Eat the foods and vegetables that grow locally this time of year
  • Eat cooked food not raw.  This is a great time for soups and stews.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

Enjoy the Energy of Fall: Autumn and Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Psychological Aspect of Indian Summer in Chinese Medicine

The ancient Chinese believed that to be healthy we should align our energies with those of the current season. Indian Summer (late August till September) is harvest time in nature when there is great abundance. It is a time to gather and distribute the bounty of the earth.

The earth element, which is the most active energy at this time of year, encourages us to be balanced and grounded in our core and to nurture body, mind, and spirit. “Value and nourish yourself as the highest level of personal spiritual practice you can do, so that your love can then flow out to others.” Be careful not to overextend your energy.

The earth element governs the “digestion” of thoughts and reasoning on the mental-emotional level. It emphasizes our need to be rooted, harmonious and stabilized whether in family, community or work environment.

To promote inner calm and harmony avoid absorbing too much negative information. Spend time meditating, walking in nature, listening to positive and inspirational information and music. The beginning of each season is the perfect time to have your energy balanced. Spend time in introspection. Create the life you want.

wuweiwisdom.com-late summer health: The Chinese Medicine & Taoist way

Protecting Against Heat Exhaustion

The heat waves we’ve been experiencing these last few weeks can cause us problems unless we plan our outdoor activities carefully.  Heat exhaustion can drain your energy, create dehydration and physical exhaustion. Those most easily affected are people over 65, children under 4 years old, people who are ill, obese, or those taking medication.

Heat exhaustion is the result of prolonged exposure to high heat and insufficient intake of fluids.

The symptoms include:  heavy sweating, muscle cramps, tiredness, paleness, dizziness, weakness, nausea or vomiting, and headache.

To protect against heat exhaustion

  • Carry water with you and sip throughout the day
  • Pace yourself when working outside, exercising or playing
  • Replace minerals and salts with fluids such as Gatorade or other drinks with potassium. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Wear light-colored lightweight clothing
  • If feeling ill, seek air conditioning, and cool shower
  • Plan your outdoor activities to avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • If you feel dizzy and/ or stop sweating, get out of the sun immediately. Drink cool water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. This will help replace electrolytes and minerals

Dehydration can stress the heart and impair the kidneys function of maintaining the balance of fluids and electrolytes.

www.pacificcollege.edu/SummerandTraditionalChineseMedicine

Chinese Medicine in Late Summer

The weather in late summer is usually hotter and heavier with humidity than the rest of the season. Dampness is associated with the earth element which is most active this time of year. Late summer is a time for slowing down and gathering in. The earth element gives us the ability to nourish and care for ourselves.

The excessive rain and hot weather we’ve been having are a perfect medium for a damp condition. The dampness can mix with pathogens to create ailments such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, aching joints and heaviness in the chest. These conditions impede the flow of chi through the body.

“Inner dampness is caused by excess cold consumption of liquor, tea, cold melons and sweet greasy foods. These impede spleen functions.”

To counteract dampness, eat a healthy, nutritional diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, get a good night’s sleep and exercise at least three times a week.

PacificCollege.edu/Summer and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Staying Healthy in Summer

Summer is the most energetically active of all the seasons with expansion, growth, and activity. It represents the fire element which is associated with the heart and small intestine. The color is red, the emotion is joy and it is a time to bring to manifestation all that we have been planning during the spring.

In summer the focus is on enjoying life and relationships. When our energy is balanced our life runs smoothly.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart is associated with thought processes, memory, emotional wellbeing, and consciousness. When the heart energy is imbalanced depression or manic behavior may result. “When the heart energy is balanced, the mind is calm, and we sleep deeply and wake rested.”

For Optimum Summer Health:

  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • Wake earlier in the morning
  • Rest at midday
  • Go to bed later in the evening
  • Add pungent foods to your diet
  • Refrain from angry outbursts

www.chinesemedicineliving.com/nutrition/season/summer

Staying Healthy In Springtime

healthy in springtimeThe season of spring is fast approaching with days getting longer and glimpses of warm weather here and there. It’s time to review the recommendations of Traditional Chinese Medicine for optimum health in springtime. TCM is based on a holistic approach of man (woman) as an integral part of their environment and nature. We are greatly influenced by changes in weather both directly and indirectly and have to adapt in order to maintain good health and live harmoniously.

The practice of eating foods according to the season would help man to remain in balance with nature and adapt better to seasonal changes. When we are in harmonious balance with our environment we experience good health.

Spring is the time of year of new growth and birth in nature. It is represented by the wood element and liver and gallbladder meridians. In springtime the yang energy (chi) flows outward; we are more active with the weather getting warmer. In order to stay healthy, we need to support and replenish the yang energy.

Foods which support liver and gallbladder energy are:

  • Onions
  • leeks
  • Chinese yam
  • dates
  • wheat
  • cilantro
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • Fresh green leafy vegetables
  • sprouts

Keep consumption of frozen, raw and fried food to a minimum. We can build excessive heat in our bodies during winter by inactivity and overeating. Foods which help to clear excessive heat from the body are:
Bananas, water chestnuts, pears, celery, and cucumber.

Traditional Chinese medicine – www.shen-nong.com

Living In Harmony with the Season of Winter

“The wise nourish life by flowing with the four seasons and adapting to cold or heat by harmonizing joy and anger in a tranquil dwelling, by balancing yin and yang ….. So it is that dissolute evil cannot reach the man of wisdom, and he will be witness to a long life.”

–Huangdi Neijing Suwen

yin yangThis quote is taken from Traditional Chinese Medicine Classics. In the season of winter the associations are:

Element: water
Nature: yin (slow moving, inward energy)
Organs: kidney, urinary bladder, adrenal glands, ears, hair
Taste: salty
Emotion: fear and depression

Kidney energy is important for maintenance of vitality and to prevent premature aging. It also governs energy reserves which allow adaptation to life’s constant changes.

In our present-day world, multitasking and constant stress are common occurrences. These conditions break down kidney energy creating exhaustion and a predisposition to hypertension. A major life challenge for all of us is adapting to change and maintaining body-mind balance.

Things you can do to maintain balance are:

  • Manage your to-do list
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Find ways to relax on a daily basis,( i.e. deep breathing, yoga, meditation)
  • Eat warming foods (cooked) and local fruits and vegetables

Chinese Medicine during Winter

The winter solstice is fast approaching and with it the beginning of the winter season.  In nature, the trees and plants have pulled their energy back into their roots to survive the colder weather. The season of winter in nature is cold, damp, and inactive.  The ancient Chinese believed that in order to stay healthy humans should live in harmony with their natural surroundings.  The cold and shorter days of winter signal us to slow down, reflect on our health, conserve our strength and replenish our energy.

Winter is a time for rest and introspection.  We conserve our energy to be prepared for the burst of energy needed in the spring.  Winter is represented by the water element. The associated organs are kidney, urinary bladder, adrenal glands, ears, and hair. The emotion associated with kidney is fear.

Foods which help to support the kidney energy are:

  • Soups and Stews
  • Root vegetables
  • Beans
  • Miso and seaweed
  • Garlic and ginger
  • Black beans, black rice

Emphasize warming foods and avoid raw food as much as possible. Go to bed early, get plenty of rest, stay warm and minimize stress to stay healthy during winter.

Chinese Medicine and the Season of Autumn

In autumn the expanded energy of summer slowly begins to contract. The earth’s energy is pulled back from the leaves of trees and plants to go deeper into the trunk and roots to survive the winter. Within Chinese Medicine, humans are regarded as microcosms of the natural universe; subject to the same cycles that occur in nature. The cold signals us to prepare for winter ahead by bringing out warmer clothing. It is a time of gathering in, stocking up, mingled with a sense of loss as the light begins to fade and the air chills. It is a time to eliminate what is unnecessary and become aware of what is essential.

Autumn is associated with the element of metal which is represented by the organs of Lung and Large Intestine. The Lung pulls in and refines the Qi, (energy) sending it downward to nourish our roots. The lung rules the skin, the outer layer of the human body, protecting against external invasion and safeguards internal resources. Since autumn is a dry season, we need to protect ourselves from cold air evaporation of moisture from our skin.

Large Intestine is associated with letting go; not just on a physical level but also of thoughts and emotions that no longer serve us. The metal element nourishes our capacity to be analytic, critical, methodical, efficient and disciplined.

The emotion associated with the metal element is grief or sadness. We are leaving the warm abundance of summer and preparing for a quieter, reflective time of year. Keeping our energy balanced helps us to release the past and create space for things to come.

Nurturing foods for this time of year include:

  • white rice
  • white beans
  • pears
  • radishes
  • sea vegetables
  • potatoes
  • cabbage
  • turnips
  • parsnips

The flavors of metal element are spicy or pungent.

Dr. Frank Lipman