ByÂ Deborah Rothman
The recent weather makes for great conversation as we can all commiserate about the frigid temperatures. As the cold seeps into your bones, you cannot get inside fast enough. The cold, dark, short winter days can leave you feeling drained. This can cause a downward spiral in your overall mood, and cause a lack of patience with people around you. It can have an effect on your productivity at work, and simply your desire to get out of bed in the morning. The covers rarely seem quite as appealing. Most people just muddle through. They layer up, wrap a scarf around their neck, put on a hat, gloves, and boots, and trudge outside. This is a great time to have acupuncture to strengthen your immune system and help restore your vitality.
Our qi, or essence and life force, is depleted greatly during the winter months leaving us feeling physically and emotionally spent. This can be exhausting, making us feel run down, cranky, and allow us to become more susceptible to illness. Our battery is running on low-power mode! It is beneficial to have acupuncture during this time to simply recharge. Those who practically hibernate all season take it to an extreme. Allowing oneself to rest more is important. Eating warm healthy foods including hearty soups, ginger and cinnamon, and steamed and grilled vegetables can be beneficial. It is also good to avoid cold-property foods including ice cream and raw roughage. Opting for grilled vegetables over a cold leafy salad will make your digestive system work more optimally. Your body has to work harder to digest cold-temperature foods, which can leave you feeling even more fatigue after eating a meal.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine teach us to live in harmony with nature and include correspondences to the seasons. What goes on in our external environment affects how we feel internally. For this reason, it is important to nourish and support the meridians that are affected by the cold weather. This can help us feel rejuvenated, more energized, and support a healthier immune system. When Chinese medicine was being developed over 4,000 years ago, people lived within their current environment. They ate the foods that grew during that season as they didn’t have the importing capabilities that we have today which allows us to eat foods all year long. They wore clothing appropriate to the seasons and rested or worked according to the seasons. They accepted that winter was a time to slow down and use inward energy, as opposed to the warm weather when people live more expansively. Living with nature as opposed to trying to fight it encouraged and supported healthier immunity.
In Chinese medicine, it is essential to support the kidney meridian during the winter months. This is our fundamental vitality and essence. The kidney meridian is associated with our hearing which can decline as our essence declines with age. It has a direct relationship with hair growth or loss. When not optimal, it can cause back or knee issues. It is highly associated with our bones. People often feel cold to their bones and suffer from joint aches and pains. Soups that contain bones or bone broth have amazing healing properties and are wonderful supportive food for nourishment during the winter season. Kidney essence is at its peak from 5:00—7:00 p.m. This is often a time where patients who have an underlying kidney deficiency will feel worse. They may feel exhausted during this time, have more back and joint pain, or a weak bladder. Additionally, they may have cravings for salty foods. Getting sufficient rest, avoiding overworking, eating healthy, and having acupuncture can help get through the season in the healthiest way.
Nature and its seasons can play an inward role on your appearance as well. Individuals with black circles under their eyes often have a deficiency in the kidney meridian. Their pallor may seem grey, blackened, or dull in color. They often feel worse during this time period. In addition to eating healthy and resting during the cold season, acupuncture supports your overall immunity. It can replenish your essence and support your overall vitality. Maintaining balance and harmony is essential to both looking good and feeling strong. This is a time when colds, coughs, and the flu are rampant all around us. Using acupuncture to help maintain optimal health and immune support to feel good during this time and avoid getting sick is our goal. Eating foods that grow naturally for the appropriate season and listening when our body is telling us to slow down is the best way to maintain our vitality. Schedule an appointment to have your battery lightning charged!
Deborah Rothman is a licensed acupuncturist and a Diplomate of Acupuncture with a private practice in Woodmere. Comments and questions are welcome. She can be reached at 516-203-4500 or deborah@AcuZen.com. Â Please visit www.AcuZen.com and follow Acuâ€‘Zen on Facebook.