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  • Writer's pictureDr. Monica L. Hilton, DACM, LAc

TCM and Winter

It’s Wintertime!⛄ In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Winter is associated with the Water element and is known as the time of the Kidneys. TCM teaches us to live in harmony with the seasons. During this time of year, it's important to balance the Kidney energy and make the necessary dietary and lifestyle adjustments to harmonize with the season.

In a previous blog post, we discussed the theory of Five Elements - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. This ancient Chinese system serves as a guide to understanding the correspondences between the body and nature. Each element has its own set of characteristics and correspondences in nature. The Water element corresponds to the following:

Season: Winter Stage of Development: Storage

Direction: North Organs: Kidneys

Color: Black Sense Organ: Ears

Taste: Salty Tissue: Bone

Climate: Cold Emotion: Fear

According to TCM theory, the Kidneys are the foundation of all yin and yang within the body. The Kidneys govern water, birth, growth, reproduction, and development. They open into the ears, manifest in the hair, control the lower two orifices, and influence the memory. Symptoms of a Kidney imbalance include soreness and weakness of the lower back, problems with urination, night sweats, poor memory, tinnitus, dizziness, soreness and weakness of the knees, hearing loss, and poor libido. These imbalances can be corrected with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, moxibustion, and TCM nutrition.

We can regulate the Kidneys and harmonize with the season by adjusting our diet and making a few lifestyle changes. Here are a few tips to help you this Winter:

Get acupuncture! Acupuncture can strengthen the Kidneys, relieve soreness, boost the memory, improve urination, relieve night sweats, and increase the libido. Moxibustion, an ancient form of heat therapy, can also be used to warm the meridians and stimulate the flow of qi and blood.

Eat warm, nourishing foods. Winter is the time to eat warm, slow-cooked foods like stews, soups, and porridge. Foods that warm and strengthen the Kidneys include oats, millet, quinoa, black beans, walnuts, black sesame seeds, lentils, lamb, salmon, and shrimp. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clover, and ginger also help to warm the body. Avoid cold, raw, and frozen foods this time of year. Refined sugar and alcoholic beverages should also be avoided as they weaken the Kidney energy.

Get your rest! Winter is the time to slow down, rest, and recharge for Spring. It’s also the time to look inward and reflect with practices like journaling, meditation, tai chi, and qi gong. These practices can calm the mind, balance the emotions, and improve mental clarity.

Keep covered. Do your best to stay warm and reduce exposure to drafts. Wear a coat when outside and keep a scarf around your neck to protect yourself from pathogenic wind.

Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed these TCM health tips feel free to share them with a friend. See you soon! 😊

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