Seasonal Tips: Winter to Spring

Bodies are in tune with their environment, and their needs change with the seasons. To live optimally, we can aim to follow the seasons and alter our habits accordingly.

FOCUS ON:
– Reflecting inward

– Extra rest

– Conserving your energy

– Confronting fears 

– Warmth (especially: neck, back, feet)

– Low stress, use techniques to manage stress if needed

– Warm foods that are easy to digest (cold food is harder to digest, takes more energy for the body to process), such as soups, stews, and cooked vegetables

– Hydration, we forget when it isn’t hot out. But water is still important for the body’s processes in winter.  (Drink room temp or warm/hot)

– Get regular Acupuncture to turn down the adrenaline response so the body can rest more deeply, balance energy in the darker months, and boost immunity against colds/flus.

BLACK + PURPLE COLOR FOODS augment the Kidney meridian system. In Chinese medicine, the Kidneys are considered the ‘innermost organ’, and they are especially important to care for in the winter season when we go the most inward. Eating black or purple foods support the kidneys according to 5 Element Theory. 

Ideas (organic when possible):

– Blackberries

– black beans

– walnuts

– seaweed

– walnuts

– black tea

A BRIEF LOOK AHEAD // SPRING:

Spring is a time of regeneration and renewal, a good time to cleanse, expand, and become more active as the weather thaws and the days get longer

  • Liver/Gallbladder meridian system is the focus. When this system is flowing smoothly, we experience physical and emotional well-being
  • More stretching and movement
  • Give your body a break from toxins (processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, soda)
  • Green foods are the way to go, young plants especially (e.g. leafies, sprouts)
  • Sour flavor can stimulate the liver’s energy. Add lemon +/or Apple Cider Vinegar to your water.
  • Ger regular acupuncture to boost immunity against seasonal allergies, and keep the Liver’s energy flowing smoothly

Signs of an exterior invasion (onset of cold/flu):

  • Achiness in neck and shoulders
  • Intolerance to wind and/or cold
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Stuffy nose / head
  • Sore throat / swollen feeling in glands

ACT FAST! :

  • Catch it early for best results to reduce length and severity of illness
  • Get Acupuncture and ask for an antiviral herbal formula
  • Decrease intake of inner-building herbs, supplements, foods (cease use of ginseng, miso, rich animal protein, tonifying herbs)
  • Eat less, and more simply, focusing on Liquids
  • If there are chills, focus meals on broths and soups
  • If there is fever, OK to use juices
  • Try to induce a bit of SWEATING by taking warm tea (e.g, fresh cut ginger, cinnamon, chamomile) or warm foods and then bundling up, and repeat a few times over the day (NOTE: do not induce excess sweating to the point of exhaustion. Just a light sweat to release pathogens out of the skin)
  • Cover the neck and upper back well with layers, as this is where the ‘external wind invasion’ occurs according to Chinese Medicine

After the pathogen has passed, build back strength and boost immunity

  • Return to balanced meals
  • Supplement with Vit C, Echinacea, and Elderberry especially when under stress and around those with known exterior pathogen illness.
  • Ger regular Acupuncture to keep immunity up, balance energy, calm the stress response system, and decrease inflammation and pain.

Fall Tips for Living Seasonally

Chinese Medicine tells us that living according to the seasonal flow will maintain health and promote longevity. In the Summer, we work hard and play hard and enjoy all the extra hours of the day. Now that it is Fall, it’s time to harvest all the work done during Summer, and start turning our focus inward. This season is less active, and more passive. With shorter, darker days, we are lead to sleep a bit more and restore ourselves after the busier, warmer months.

The five elements (fire, earth, metal, water, wood) each correlate to a season, and Autumn’s element is METAL. The organ systems that fall into the metal category are the Lungs and the Large intestine. 

The lungs are in charge of the skin and their primary emotion is grief. It is normal to feel a mild amount of grief or somberness in this part of the year, where the days are shorter and darker. To support the Lung system, try breathing exercises such as Qi gong or meditation. This can help strengthen the lungs as well as balance emotions. The Lungs are considered the most vulnerable organ to external invasion, which we know in the West as ‘colds and flus’. To protect yourself, wear a scarf and cover the back of the neck, where the cold air is known to invade. Staying hydrated is as important this time of year as it is in the summer. The air is dryer and that can lead to dry skin, lips, scalp, and mucous membranes. Pears are in season now, and their skins are great at moistening dryness. Eat the fruit whole, or peel the skins and use to make a tea. Hydration is also important for the other metal element’s organ: The large intestine.

If you are prone to digestive sluggishness, make sure to keep your water intake up during the Fall months. The large intestine is in charge of “letting go” of what doesn’t serve us, whether that be waste or toxins that can hinder immunity, as well as old ideas and practices. It’s also time to let go of the excesses of Summer.  As part of turning our focus inward, try making a list of priorities for the season, and let go of unnecessary projects, grudges, and tasks. Warm, cooked foods aid in digestion and support us through the colder months. Try roasted root vegetables with pungent flavors like garlic, onions, and ginger.

Acupuncture is a perfect tool to support ourselves through each season. Immunity, digestion, and emotional balance are just a few of the systems that Acupuncture can support.