Winter – the season to retreat & reflect

Retreat & Reflect – With the winter solstice we will officially enter the winter season, and put the shortest day behind us. We need to bundle up, eat nice warm food, and cuddle up next to a fire. The tradition of Oriental medicine regards winter as a time to retreat, reflect, and restore. This is the season we direct our energies inward and consolidate it in preparation for anew start in spring.

Beautiful winter landscape at sunset with fog and snowElement– 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 (Qi) within the body. It stores our reserves to be used in times of stress and change, or to heal and prevent illness, and to age gracefully. During winter it is important to nourish our Kidney Qi, instinctively our bodies know this. We desire to rest and sleep longer hours and seek out warm moist foods and sheltered warm environments. We are conserving our body’s warmth and moisture in the face of the cold and dry climate.

Food- Eating warm hearty soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts helps warm the body’s core and keep us nourished. The kidneys are associated with water so drink ample water, at room temperature or warmer, throughout the day. Include kidney shaped foods such as black beans and kidney beans as these help to nourish and benefit the kidneys. The colors that correspond with the water element and hence the kidney are blue and black so include black sesame seeds, and blueberries. Walnuts and chestnuts have been found to increase the Kidney Qi. Veggies such as dark leafy greens, asparagus, cucumbers and celery boost Kidney Qi. Tonifying meats such as beef, lamb and bone marrow help warm and strengthen the body.

Acupuncture – Seasonal acupuncture treatments in winter serve to nourish Kidney Qi which can greatly enhance the body’s ability to thrive, aid in healing, prevent illness and increase vitality.

Other Tips – Strengthen the lower part of the body – feet, legs, pelvis, and low back. Avoid cold food, raw food and ice cold drinks as these all challenge the body in staying warm and cause an expenditure of energy. Keep your feet warm as cold easily enters the body through the feet as the Kidney meridian starts on the sole of the feet. Keep your low back and pelvis warm, and avoid drafty spaces. Connect with others in the sharing food and in warm cozy gatherings. Spend time with yourself in reflection, gather from the year that is passing and contemplate beliefs and philosophies. Avoid extreme physical over-exertion, yet keep the body moving and strong. Avoid cleanses and detoxification programs as these cool the body and drain its energy reserves.