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Staying Healthy with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in Winter

The winter season in New York has arrived, demonstrated by weeks of snow, rain, wind, and colder temperatures. Staying indoors and sleeping are more appealing as our bodies try to keep warm and conserve. Cravings for certain foods may also be at the forefront of our minds and bodies.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), an organ and an element belongs to each season. Winter is the season of the kidneys, which holds the essence of our being and the root of our energy. To harmonize with winter, one must align with the “Yin” aspect of Chinese Medicine. Yin is dark, its movement is slow, and it represents cooler temperatures. In contrast, the Yang of the summer season, which is light, is more active and warm. Yin is introspective, still, requiring quiet to fortify the strength needed for the blossom and promise of spring. Water is the element associated with winter in Chinese Medicine. It sustains, creates and nourishes.

During acupuncture treatments in winter, we may use Moxibustion to warm your cold extremities, the lower back, or abdomen. Moxibustion is a condensed form of Mugwort, a warming ancient Chinese herb that is burned close to specific acupuncture points to warm the body slowly, with deep, internal lasting effects.

Salty, bitter, cooked and warming foods are appropriate for maintaining health in winter. They promote a centering action that makes it easier for the body to store additional nutrients. These foods include celery, turnip, asparagus, quinoa, amaranth, ginger, cinnamon, walnuts, black beans, potato, black sesame seeds, chicken, lamb, trout and salmon. Cooked foods are generally better than cold salad or yogurt, especially this time of year.

Exercise and hydration are also important factors during the colder months. Yoga, Pilates, bike riding, and your usual gym workouts can keep the winter blues away, as well as holiday pounds! Even though we may not be sweating as much, our bodies still to keep the spine and the joints flexible and lubricated.
Finally, nature shows us that winter is a time for sleep. Longer nights and short cold days keep us inside seeking refuge from the elements. but also creating a space for more dreamtime, family time, alone time and rest.

Don’t feel that you need to keep up with the hectic pace of the rest of the year. Allow yourself the time to reconnect and rest.

Keep your calendar as light as possible and recharge for the possibilities of new growth in the spring that is soon to come!