By Jeremy Rothenberg, LAc.
As winter arrives, the cold settles in with shorter days and longer nights. Winter begins with the solstice, the darkest day of the year, but our bodies and minds feel the approach much sooner. Observe the trees and their falling leaves, eventually laid bare. Reflect on hibernating animals that utilize their stored energies for sustenance. How do these same energies ebb and flow within us?
Traditional wisdom encourages us to prepare for this journey into darkness by conserving energy, placing our gaze within, and deeply nourishing our bodies and minds. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine can help guide and support us.
Winter is a realm ruled by the Water element and intimately associated with our kidneys, the epicenter and storehouse of our body’s energies. When this element is out of balance, conditions such as back pain, infertility, and urinary problems may arise. Emotionally, we might experience fearfulness, anxiety, or even phobias when the Water element is out of balance. In this ever-changing cycle, depletion and stagnation can be particularly challenging.
Acupuncture is particularly beneficial during these colder months. By targeting specific meridians and points on the body, acupuncture helps regulate the flow of qi (“chee” or vital flow), creating harmony between the fundamental yin and yang energies within us. This balance is crucial during winter, as the dominance of yin can sometimes lead to feelings of lethargy, fatigue, and emotional withdrawal. Regular acupuncture sessions can invigorate the body’s yang energy, fostering warmth, circulation, and vitality.
Chinese herbal medicine can profoundly nourish our wondrous physiology. Some of the principal herbs to support us in Winter include: Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang), which strengthens the kidneys and nourishes yin; Ginseng (Ren Shen), known for boosting energy, warming the body and supporting the immune system; Astragalus (Huang Qi), strengthens the immune system and helps ward off viruses like cold and flu; Angelica (Dang Gui), that nourishes the blood, improves circulation and promotes fertility; Cinnamon bark (Rou Gui), strongly warms the body and invigorates circulation. These herbs can be especially beneficial in addressing the physical, mental, and emotional challenges that may arise during the darker, colder months.
In winter, it is also wise to consume warming, nourishing foods and to protect against the cold. We can also cultivate and secure our energy with meditation, yoga, Qi Gong, and Tai Chi. These important practices strengthen body and mind and stabilize the emotions.
Our winter wellness can be supported by acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, appropriate foods, and energy cultivation practices. When we listen to the wisdom in the wind, the earth, and our healing traditions, we can move gracefully through the cold and dark times. Come in or call for a consultation today.