If you feel tired and drained, you are not alone. “Lack of energy” is one of the top five complaints that doctors hear in their offices. According to Oriental medicine, the cold months of winter are the perfect time to recharge your battery and generate vital energy or Qi (pronounced Chee) – in order to live, look, and feel your best.
The ancient Chinese believed that human beings should live in harmony with the natural cycles of their environment. The cold and darkness of winter urges us to slow down. This is the time of year to reflect on health, replenish energy and conserve strength.
Winter is ruled by the Water element, which is associated with the Kidneys, Bladder and Adrenal Glands. The Kidneys are considered the source of all energy or “Qi” within the body. They store all of the reserve Qi in the body so that it can be used in times of stress and change, or to heal, prevent illness, and age gracefully.
During the winter months, it is important to nurture and nourish our Kidney Qi; it is the time where this energy can be most easily depleted
Here are a few tips to staying healthy this winter:
- Wash your hands regularly. Studies have shown that one of the main reasons that we catch colds and flu in the winter season is that we are indoors and in closer proximity to others in cold weather. Protect ourself by washing your hands regularly and try not to touch your face.
- Get plenty of sleep. The Nei Ching, an ancient Chinese classic, advised people to go to sleep early and rise late, after the sun’s rays have warmed the atmosphere a bit. This preserves your own yang Qi for the task of warming in the face of cold.
- Reduce stress. Find a way to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Such methods may include yoga, meditation, biofeedback, simple relaxation therapy, or whatever method you use to release the stress and pressures of modern life. According to TCM, stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can work together to throw your immune system off, allowing pathogens affect your body.
- Eating warm hearty soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts help to warm the body’s core and to keep us nourished. Sleep early, rest well, stay warm, and expend a minimum quantity of energy.
- Drink plenty of Water – The Kidneys are associated with the Water element. Drink ample water, at room temperature, throughout the day.
- Eat Kidney Shaped Foods – Black beans and kidney beans are excellent examples of kidney shaped foods that nourish and benefit Kidney Qi. Dark, leafy green vegetables are the best choice for Kidney Qi. Other Kidney Qi boosting veggies include asparagus, cucumbers and celery.
- Eat Blue and Black Foods – The colors blue and black correspond to the Water element of the Kidneys and are thought to strengthen the Water element. Include blueberries, blackberries, mulberry and black beans in your diet.
- Snack on Seeds & nuts – Flax, pumpkin, sunflower and black sesame seeds relate to fertility and growth which is governed by Kidney Qi. Walnuts and chestnuts have been found to be especially effective for increasing Kidney Qi.
- Seasonal acupuncture treatments in winter serve to nurture and nourish kidney Qi which can greatly enhance the body’s ability to thrive in times of stress, aid in healing, prevent illness and increase vitality. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can prevent colds and flu by building up the immune system with just a few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways.
These points are known for strengthening the circulation of blood and energy and for consolidating the outer defense layers of the skin and muscle (wei Qi) so that germs and viruses cannot enter through them.
Seasonal acupuncture treatments also serve to tonify (boost) the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems. The ultra-thin needles don’t hurt and are inserted just under the skin. The practitioner may twist or “stimulate” them once or twice, and they are removed within 10 to 20 minutes.
One particularly important point to attend to is Du 14. Located below the spinous process of the seventh cervical vertebrae, approximately at the level where the collar of a T-shirt sits on the neck. Du 14 activates the circulation of blood and Qi to strengthen the outer defense layers of the skin and muscle (wei qi) so that germs and viruses cannot enter through them.
This point is often used to ward off, as well as shorten, the duration colds and flu.
This would be a great point to place an acupuncture needle, magnet or pellet before going on a flight. Ask Dr. Hoch for more information.