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Secrets to Winter Health and Energy

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture and Qi Gong practices believe that human beings should live in harmony with their environment and seasons. Each season represents an "element" and we have specific ways to balance, restore, maintain and boost your immune system and create harmony in this time of the year. These treatments and dietary recommendations can help ward off the common cold, flu and help alleviate the blues and depression that can be called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to lack of sunshine and exposure. Some of the best parts of acupuncture are its "side effects". These include and are not limited to stress reduction, increase energy and help with sleep disorders such as insomnia.
TCM and the winter season:
Everything in nature is both Yin and Yang. Winter is Yin in nature. It is cold, damp and not very active, (think of animals that hibernate). This is the time of year to be thinking of building and consolidating your energy or Qi. Prepare for the outburst of new energy (and racing) in the spring.
The winter element is water. The organs and meridians (energy or functional pathways) that require balance are the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands. The emotions are usually fear and depression. The kidneys store all your reserve energy or Qi. This way the stored energy can be used for times of stress, prevention of injury or illness and to heal. In TCM, the kidneys also build bone strength (great for prevention of stress fractures). Now is the time to nourish our Kidney Qi. Winter is the time to rest the body, slowly build and adapt, reflect and conserve.
Foods for Winter:
After the holidays and lack of typical dietary control, it is now wise to concentrate on healthy eating. According to TCM, we want you to avoid raw foods during the winter as these tend to cool and dampen the body. In the wintertime, it is best to consume warming types of food.
.  Garlic and Ginger
. Soups and Stews with rich stock
. Steamed winter greens
. Squash, Potatoes
. Root vegetables
. Walnuts and sesame seeds
. Beans
. Miso and seaweed
. Quinoa
. Apples and pears for fruit as well as dried fruit
With the winter season upon us, it can have a major effect on the body's environment. With the cold damp weather come flu, colds and body aches and pains. According to Chinese medicine, it is time to get plenty of sleep, go to bed early and sleep in waiting for the sun rays to warm the air. Reduce your stress by finding ways to manage your stress: Mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, Qi Gong and Yoga to name a few. Now is the time to balance and harmonize for the Winter or Water element.
" The wise nourish life by flowing with the four seasons and adapting to cold and heat, by harmonizing joy and anger in a tranquil dwelling, by balancing yin and yang and what is hard and soft. So it is that dissolute evil cannot reach the man of wisdom, and he will witness to a long life"-Huangdi Neijing Suwen

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Dr Scott Greenapple