Updated: Mar 27, 2022
The first snow often reminds us that winter is here. There is a seamless ritual for Canadians to get ready for winter: cleaning up the fallen leaves; wrapping the greens in the yard; scheduling that appointment for winter tire change; setting up the snow shelter, etc. As we light the fireplace and cozy up with our winter socks, we ask the question, what shall we do for ourselves to get ready for winter?
Winter is a Yin season, and Yin symbolizes things that give birth to vitality such as the Earth and Mother. With that in mind, we see winter as the season of “Collecting and Keeping”. Winter does not mean depression and ending; on the contrary, it is the time to prepare for the endless opportunities of the spring.
In Chinese medicine, the Kidney is associated with the Winter season. Western physiology considers the main function of the kidney is to filter blood and excrete urine, which helps our body to eliminate toxins and excess water. Chinese medicine views the Kidney with a broader perspective. Kidney is thought to contain the vital energy we carry from birth and store the essence which transforms into Qi and Blood. Hence the Kidney is considered an essential organ for providing the fundamental needs of our body. To replenish the Kidney Essence is a difficult task; the harsh winter cold and wind make the Kidney especially vulnerable during this time of the year; which makes taking care of the Kidney our priority in the winter season.
Rest and go back to the source
Winter is the season to go back to the source, to “Collect and Keep” instead of “Spend and Consume”. Get plenty of rest, adopt the slow living trend - that is our mantra.
Keep warm, from the top to the bottom
Head and Neck - The head is the "convergence of all Yang". It is an area of our body less protected from the cold. The yang energy depletes quickly, which can cause headaches, severe cold and trigger cerebrovascular diseases (especially for the elderly). The neck is the "fortress" of our body, it gathers important blood vessels and many important acupuncture points. The Wind energy from the outside can easily come in through the passage of the neck. So you know the drill: Hat + Scarf.
Feet - As the old saying goes, "cold starts from the feet". Feet are the farthest away from the heart, the blood supply is low and the blood circulation is slow. There are many important acupuncture points and meridians located on our feet. If you have cold feet, warm socks and footwear, and taking foot baths are highly recommended for this season.
Diet therapy as a part of Chinese medicine uses food elements to treat problems and fortify our health. Eating dark-toned foods brings the replenishing effect for Kidneys, such as black rice, black beans, and black sesame seeds.
Increasing water intake can also help to replenish Kidney Yin, although avoiding ice cold water and drinks during the cold days are important. In winter, a small amount of warm liquor is actually encouraged for consumption. Macerated herbal alcohol and medicinal wine are often prepared and consumed in winter in many cultures.
Scheduling a series of acupuncture treatments with your acupuncturist can effectively fortify your Kidney health, help you to slow down, manage your pain, and improve your sleep.
Let’s work together to have a peaceful and joyful winter!