WINTER and Health

The forces of winter create cold in Heaven and water on Earth. They create the kidney organ and the bones within the body…the emotion fear, and the ability to make a groaning sound. –The Inner Classic

I walked through the snowy woods today.  The snow covered everything making all the branches heavy like an apple tree in the autumn.  The snow was deep and each step was an effort and a thoughtful one. I could feel the sense of attention to each step. The air was cool but I moved swiftly as I climbed through the hills.   Each breath outward was warm then cooled and the inhalation was cool then warmed inside of me. The light in the wood illuminated each snowflake as it drifted from the trees with the slightest of wind. The birds chirped but they were unseen.  The trees would occasionally creek loudly and I turned to see where it was coming from.

Water is the Winter Element and we need to live in accord with the season by understanding the power of this element and season.  Winter gives us an opportunity to be aware of the emphasis of introspective, receptivity, storage oriented and the cool  external and the need to warm our core for  inner warmth of the body, mind and spirit. Following the basic laws of nature will help you to stay healthy in winter.

Nature provides us with everything we need to survive.  When we pay attention to what is going around us and inside us we can stay healthy longer.  Climate affects our external being and affects us internally.  Climate is our surroundings; our moods, weather, environment, atmosphere and common beliefs.  As we breathe fresh air into our life and as we interact with the world around we take in the climate that surrounds us.  

Each season affects our strength and vulnerability in unique ways.  Internal and external balance occurs through adjusting ones health through eating, exercising and other factors affecting each season. 

Drink and food:  The Inner Classic advises the use of  foods in the winter as we cool the exterior and concentrate the warmth within the interior and the lower body areas. The sounds of cooking and voices in the kitchen stimulate the appetite. In the winter, warming food and herbs are recommended to combat the external cold.  Warm hearty soup, root vegetables, whole grains and roasted nuts. Drinking plenty of water is essential for the cleansing of the body through the kidneys and bladder.

Adding both salty and bitter foods promote an inward and centering quality giving the ability to take and store Water. Too much of any one thing can be dangerous. Maintaining a balance is essential. Food is medicine.

Salty foods include seaweeds, millet, miso and soy sauce. Bitter foods include celery, lettuce, quinoa, citrus peel, cabbage leaves and turnip. Bitter herbs are things like chicory (a great coffee substitute) and burdock root.

Sleep: (In the winter) people should retire early at night and rise late in morning and wait for the rising of the sun. –Nei Ching.  Rest is essential for the storage of energy within the body. Lack of rest weakens ones power and depletes the resources.

Exercise: The Tao of nurturing life requires that one keep oneself as fluid and flexible as possible. One should not stay still for too long, nor should one exhaust oneself by trying to perform impossible tasks. One should learn how to exercise by observing nature. The fact that flowing Water never stagnates and a busy door with active hinges never rusts or rots. The answer is because they exercise themselves perpetually and are almost always moving. –Sun Ssu-mo

We can never be too clever and work to excel our highest expectations…the health of the kidney official in winter will help us achieve this.

 For more information call Pamela Bys.

Compiled and presented by Pamela Bys, Five Element Acupuncture

3 Responses

  1. kaileesteven01

    Exercise is important. It not only burns calories, but also allows you to warm and inspire your mood. You need extra exercise if you have food delivered to these tempting comfort and warm rich in fat. An active warm-up is essential. The activity must be sufficiently vigorous and prolonged to ensure that the whole body is hot.

  2. Pamela Bys

    This is an important point. Thank you for sharing your comments.

    Exercise is a key aspect to staying healthy and warm especially in the winter months.

    One taoist quote:
    A well used door never creeks!