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Seasonal Health Tips

What You Need to Know About Winter

With the passing of the busy Holiday season, Winter’s Quiet has come into focus. Now and then, listen to it’s unique qualities; notice how you feel ... in the Quiet ... Cold and Dark, sometimes Wet and sometimes Dry ... Quiet ways of Winter.  Become more aware of your body and spirit, your mind and emotions ... Winter can affect your overall health in ways you may not be aware of.

Like a flowing stream slowed by frost, Winter Cold slows your body’s energy down — at a time when it takes more energy to stay warm; energy your body also needs to keep fluid flowing through it, because the heat that warms also dries you out. And be aware that the Darkness of Winter can also darken the psyche as the tendency to ‘hibernate’ heightens the sense of being more alone.

Although everyone is affected differently, when you recognize the Nature of Winter you begin to understand more clearly the effects this season has on your health.

Winterize Yourself
For Winter, just like every season in the year, as well as every season in your life, there are some ‘common sense’ things to know and do to keep yourself and your family healthy during this vulnerable time.

Stay Warm
In general, staying warm is your body’s primary concern in Winter.

Oriental Medicine at BIOM is a common-sense approach to health and well-being.

  • Use a hot water bottle to warm a cold bed before you lie down in it.
  • Move a chair closer to a nearby radiator.
  • Wear warm socks because when your feet are cold, your whole body is more likely to be easily chilled.
  • Wear gloves on a cold day.
  • When you’re outside enjoying Winter sports, make sure you dress properly so your body doesn’t get too chilled.
  • Overall, it’s important to keep your wrists, ankles, and the back of your neck protected from Cold.

Enlighten Yourself
If you have any tendency toward “cabin fever,” feel ‘down’ on overcast or rainy days, or experience any other
discomfort from too much time in the Dark, try this:

    It’s easier to prevent colds than it is to recover from them.
  • Spend some time outside during daylight.
  • Make sure you are in a well lit space for some time during each day.
  • Replace standard light bulbs with full spectrum bulbs.

Stay Dry—Not ‘Dried Out’
If Dryness is effecting you, keep yourself well-hydrated.

  • Eat soups, drink tea (the less caffeine the better if you’re feeling dry).
  • Some fruit and yogurt is okay, though remember they are ‘cold energy’ foods and you may feel cooler after eating them.
  • Use ‘toxin-free’ skin care products on dry skin. Chinese medical herbs are wonderful for moistening many the parts of your body that need it, like skin, hair, eyes, nasal passages, throat, and more.

So take good care of yourself this Winter, and remember:  It’s much easier to
prevent colds and other health problems than it is to recover
from them!

Related Articles
Staying Healthy in Winter
Seasonal Health Tips
Winter Photos

Staying Healthy In Autumn

Seasons change, and your body and mental outlook change with them in predictable ways. Oriental medicine combines knowledge of seasonal characteristics with your unique health situation to balance your energy (chi) to help you adapt and thrive during the cool, crisp months of autumn.

The Metal Element
Every season is associated with one of the Five Elements, and for autumn, the element is Metal—the energetic force that governs the health and functionality of your Lungs and Large Intestine.

Pictures of Health

According to Taoist 5 Element Theory, the Lungs are the primary influence affecting the immune system. So during autumn, it’s important to eat food that builds the overall health of the Lungs to strengthen your immune system now, and in preparation for winter.

Autumn Health Problems

Because the Lungs are most sensitive during autumn, this is a time to focus on preventing or responding to colds, coughs, sore throat, and the like. And for people already predisposed to lung problems, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and emphysema, autumn is the time to take precautions to minimize your vulnerability as we advance towards winter.

Avoid Drafts and Breezes. Temperatures are dropping, evenings are getting cooler, and in some places breezes are picking up as seasonal winds begin to blow. During this time, you need to be mindful of breezes that make you feel chilly. To avoid getting sick, keep your neck, wrists, and ankles from being exposed to wind and drafts. This is a likely way for an illness to start.

Be Aware of Dryness. During autumn, slowly increasing wind and cold begins to create dryness in the air, which affects your skin and Lungs. The effects of the natural tendency toward dryness in autumn are magnified as you begin to turn on the heat—at home, at work, and in the car—to take the chill out of the air.

Your skin and Lungs don’t like dryness, so it’s important to drink enough fluids to make sure they don’t get dried out.

Eat Less Spicy Food. Because the Lungs are especially sensitive during the autumn months, it’s a good idea to minimize the amount of spicy food you eat, to avoid irritating them. As a result, your Lungs will be less vulnerable to pathogens.

Autumn Health Tips

It’s important to pay attention to how you feel. As soon as you feel a “cold” coming on, it’s time to take preventive action by enjoying one of these nourishing, natural home brews.

Scallion Broth
This simple broth will help you sweat lightly, and is an excellent remedy for preventing and getting rid of colds:

  • Take one scallion, and chop it up.
  • Boil in water for 5 to 10 minutes. (Keep the lid on the pot to prevent vapor from escaping.)
  • Flavor with tamari.
  • Sip it slowly, bundle up, then lie down, or go to sleep.

Ginger Tea
If scallion broth doesn’t suit your culinary fancy, try ginger tea:

  • Put a couple of slices of fresh ginger in one and one-half cups of water.
  • Boil for 5 to 10 minutes. (Time it based on how strong you like your ginger tea.)
  • Keep the lid on the pot to prevent vapor from escaping.
  • Add a little honey and lemon.
  • Sip it slowly, bundle up, then lie down, or go to sleep.

Scallion broth is the more effective of the two remedies, but if for some reason it doesn’t appeal to you, ginger tea is a good alternative

Balance is Key
Strive to balance your diet so that it includes some vegetables, some fruit, some grain, and a handful of moderately spicy foods.

Get Help If You Need It
If you experience any lung-related, or other symptoms that don’t clear up quickly, call BIOM for an appointment to get a prescribed formula of medical herbs to help alleviate your symptoms and address the problem—before it becomes more advanced. 

Valentine’s Day: A Matter of the Heart (and Kidneys)

Happy Valentine’s Day! a celebration of the Heart — whose health depends on strong Kidneys. As Valentine’s Day inspires you to feel love in your heart, I encourage you to also focus for a minute or two on the level of energy (health) you’re feeling, or not feeling, in your Heart and Kidneys.

Tired Kidneys

Your Kidneys are probably pretty pooped by this time in Winter, leaving you feeling low in energy. Look at the Five Element Cycle of Regulation illustration on this page and you’ll notice that the ‘Water’ element, embodied in your Kidneys, regulates the ‘Fire’ element, which is embodied in your Heart.

So if your Kidneys are low in energy they won’t be able to adequately support the Heart, and as a result, the Heart function can get a bit out of alignment.

5 Element Theory: Cycle of Regulation

Heart Problems

If you’re already predisposed to Heart problems, you may be experiencing things like a little bit of extra pressure in the chest, or maybe some mild heart irregularities in the rhythm and beat, usually not to the extent of interfering with breathing; but for people who have compromised Heart energy, these symptoms may be more present at this point in Winter.

Now is the time of year to start rebuilding the strength of your Kidneys.

Now is the time of year to start rebuilding the strength of your Kidneys.

Strengthening Kidneys and Heart

A ‘rule of thumb’ for good health is this: toward the middle and end of each season, focus on rebuilding the strength of the organ that is the focal point for that season. Right now, in Mid-Winter, it’s your Kidneys. And because each organ system has a companion organ that it regulates, (at mid-winter it’s your Heart), it’s a good idea to pay some attention to the companion organ too so that it will be in tune and ready to go when its season to perform comes—for the Heart, that’s summer).

How To Strengthen Your Organs

Acupuncture, Chinese Medicinal Herbs, Healthy Eating: The 5 Element Way and Chi Kung are simple, time-tested ways to balance the energy in the seasonally affected organs, and to build your overall level of energy so that you can enjoy that most wonderful, yet subtle, of feelings: Good Health!

Related Articles
What You Need to Know About Winter
Staying Healthy in Winter
Winter Photos

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IMPORTANT: All information on this Web site is provided for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of a local Oriental Medicine practitioner, biomedical doctor, experienced coach, or martial arts instructor.