Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that has been around for thousands of years. Unlike other branches of healthcare, it incorporates more than just medicine. For instance, TCM practitioners will also educate their patients on how the seasons affect the body and ways to stay healthy. This will ultimately lead to a long, healthy life throughout the seasons–including winter.
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that humans should live in harmony with the seasons.
According to TCM, there are five seasons: winter, spring, summer, late summer, and fall. Each season has many associations that help us change our habits allowing for a more balanced mind and body. While these systems were developing, people lived in harmony with nature. They rose with the sun, ate what was available during the different seasons, and they were much more aware of their natural environment. What to wear, when to wake up, when to go to sleep, and what activities to engage in were all dependent on the weather and the environment. Because of this, people were capable of staying healthy throughout the year and their immune and organ systems were strong enough to ward off disease.
Winter is a time of repair and rejuvenation
Winter is associated with the kidneys, which hold the body’s fundamental energies. Harmonizing with the seasons will help the body stay healthy and prepared for each succeeding season. Rest is important for revitalizing the kidneys, and this is why some animals hibernate during the winter months. Winter is also a really good time to turn inward and do some reflection. Practices like tai chi, qi gong and yoga can be very beneficial during the winter season due to their reflective nature. These practices help us connect to our inner selves, while supporting the kidney energy. They help relax the mind and calm our emotions.
Winter is also associated with ears in this system, and our ability to hear is related to the health of our kidneys. The stillness of the winter months allows us to hear the world more clearly and forces us to slow down. Another association that TCM makes with winter are our bones. Due to this connection, it’s important to tonify and heal any orthopedic problems during these months.
Beneficial foods for winter
The following foods grow during this season. Eat with the season and try to incorporate them into the daily diet during the winter months.
Winter is a perfect time for warming foods including soups and bone broth. Try this immune boosting squash soup to get the benefits of seasonal produce.
Foods to nourish the kidneys
Some foods specifically target and nourish the kidneys. For an extra boost, incorporate black beans, kidney beans, lamb, walnuts, chicken, dark leafy greens, and black sesame seeds. These foods should be warming and nourishing, so we recommend cooking them longer than you might expect while on low heat.
When we align ourselves with the natural processes of life and the seasons, our bodies will adjust and perform optimally, just as they are intended to. Learn to take cues from the seasons and stay healthy this winter.
Transitioning into winter can be difficult, so please contact us with any questions about how TCM can help that process. Acupuncture is also a great tool to get you through the season. Call our offices or schedule an appointment online if you’re in need of a tune up!