According to Chinese Medicine, we need to live in harmony with the natural cycles of our environment to be well and stay well. Think of Winter. It is the cold, dark time of year. In Nature, it is the time to rest, conserve, restore and replenish our energy in preparation for new life and growth in Spring. Now this doesn’t mean that we need to go into hibernation nor squirrel away huge stores of nuts to keep us going, but it is enlightening to attune to the natural cycles of life and to be in rhythm with them.
Winter is ruled by the Water element. This is associated with our Kidney and Bladder energy. One aspect of the Kidneys’ function is that they store and are the foundation of all reserves of Qi in our body, so that these reserves can be used in extra times of need. The Kidney energy doesn’t like cold environments, so Winter is the time when our Kidney energy can become most depleted and we are aware that our energy levels can feel lower. It’s important to nurture and nourish our Kidney Qi at this time.
So, the practical advice is to stay warm! The cold can enter the Kidney channel through the point at the balls of our feet so keep your feet toasty. The kidneys control the lower back and we can see an increase of lower back pain and discomfort at this time of year. (No midriff tops then!) and keep your torso nice and warm. I’m starting to sound like your mother, aren’t I? But it can be useful to understand the wisdom behind these simple home truths.
Looking after your Kidney Qi forms one part of maintaining a strong immune system to ward off those Winter ills. We also need healthy digestive and Lung Qi. The lungs control our Wei Qi or defensive energy via the skin. In Chinese Medicine we say that colds and flu are due to an ‘invasion of external wind’ that enters the body through exposed skin at the back of our neck. So, you guessed it, keep a scarf handy to keep the wind at bay.
This might be an overly simplified view of the complexities of Chinese Medicine, but these are just some practical examples of how to keep our immune system strong through the Winter months.. If you need some assistance, acupuncture can help you come back into rhythm with the seasons and boost your energy levels until the warmth and increased life processes of Spring return.
– written by Lisa Ogden