Greetings from TOTEM Health and Acupuncture. Thank you to our friends at HAND & LAND for providing a forum for our community to share ideas, products and knowledge. In midwinter, keeping strong and healthy and positive until spring is at the forefront of all of our minds. Here are some suggestions from the ancient system of Chinese medicine that I hope will help you and your families remain healthy, happy, and vital throughout the season and beyond.
May my heart be filled with loving-kindness.
May my heart stay open.
May I be peaceful, happy, and safe.
May I become aware of the light of my true nature.
May I be free.
May all beings in my country be peaceful.
May their hearts stay open,
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings become awake to the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.
Jīng (Chinese: 精) is the Chinese word for "essence", specifically kidney essence. Along with qì and shén, it is considered one of the Three Treasures Sanbao 三寶 of traditional Chinese medicine or TCM.
The ancient Chinese believed Winter was the time when we should rest so our bodies could preserve and store this precious energy. Jīng is considered the ‘pilot light’ of the body. It is responsible for creating and hardening bone for the stability of our skeleton, our overall vitality, (including sexual vitality) the spark you can sense when you first meet someone, the length of our life, and the very important job of imprinting our genetics on another human life if we choose to do so.
The ability to store this Jīng is tested in the winter. In our action or Yang obsessed culture it’s very difficult to convince people that they’re not lazy if they strengthen their Yin essence by resting and sleeping a bit more. Following your winter instinct to do both of these things is one of the ancient Chinese secrets to vitality and long life.
Did you know Acupuncture can improve immunity, help with motivation while sticking to healthy eating, manage metabolism and digestion, and help with relaxation during a stressful season? It may be time for a seasonal Acupuncture tuneup. Like winterizing your car before the big storm, preventative medicine works best before your body needs it. The Wei Qi is responsible for protecting your body from illness and is similar to the concept of the immune system. Specific points are used from the meridian system in the acupuncture treatment to engage the system to its fullest potential.
Did you know that water consumption is just as important in extreme cold weather as it is an extreme hot weather? Many times we are bundled up and may perspire more than we realize. This is even more the case, if we are exercising outdoors. Studies have shown that in the extreme cold humans are 40 percent less thirsty. So, we can’t trust our thirst impulse, hence, the reminder to drink around six glasses of 8 ounces each day. Electrolyte balance is key, consider a low sugar supplement to add to your fluids. Adding a well sourced collagen powder to your hydration can provide an easy to digest protein boost. Drinking warm water as opposed to cold puts less of a demand on your body. Stay hydrated out there!
According to Chinese medicine the dampness and cold of winter affects the emotions of fear and depression which can commonly affect all of us at sometime or another. Winter is about creating boundaries around our vital Qi and deciding how to wisely use our potential Qi and stored resources. Focusing on new ways to use our gifts and abilities can be a practical way to channel anxious thoughts and stagnant energy. Finding joy and laughter in the seemingly mundane, can open our hearts and forge new connections and solidify long standing connections.
Consider the thermodynamics of your digestion. Your fridge is usually around 36 to 40°. That’s at least 30° colder than your body temperature. If your digestive Qi is weak you should eat warming foods rather than asking your body to try to work harder to heat the food to transform it into usable energy.
If you’re asking whether you have weak digestion here is what that might look like. All or certain parts of you often feel cold, you feel fatigued or sluggish, digestion is slow, occasional loose stools, hypothyroidism, obesity, weight gain, adrenal fatigue, food allergies, other types of allergies. If you have 3 or more of these issues you will benefit by considering thermal dynamics in your food choices. This means reducing raw foods (the percentage of raw vs. cooked will vary depending on the severity your condition). Keep foods that will keep at room temperature if possible.
Good food choices for Winter are;
- Whole grains and complex carbohydrates.
- Legumes, start adding these slowly if your body is not used to them. Eating beans in moderation at first should increase your production of necessary enzymes. Kidney bean, black beans or black bean paste is traditionally eaten during winter time.
Slow cooked animal protein which is warming and grounding. Here’s a list in order of energetically coolest to warmest. Cooling; most fish, duck. Neutral; pork, salmon, bison, beef, turkey. Warming; chicken, pheasant. Hot; venison, goat, lamb.
- Seasonal fruits, think of those that earlier generations would grow here and could store throughout the winter. These include apples and pears and prepared canned low sugar fruit products like stewed fruit.
- Vegetables; Winter squash which is loaded with nutrition, cooked celery, winter greens such as cabbage, kale, collards, broccoli, Swiss chard, and chicory.
- Herbs and plants that are traditional to winter are Chinese dates, fennel, scallions, walnuts (which are used medicinally in China), ginseng, Goji berry, Angelica, Rehmannia root, astragalus, and medicinal mushrooms.
Baked Pears, Walnuts with Gingered Honey
1 inch piece of ginger root( Sheng Jiang)
4 ounces of local honey ( feng mi)
Two pears (pears moist in the lungs, throat and protect the respiratory system)
I/2 teaspoon of ground Cinnamon( Gui Zhi)
2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts (He Tao Ren)
- Preheat oven to 350
- Grate the ginger root into the honey
- Slice pears in half and scoop out the seeds. Place them sliced side up in a baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon and chopped walnuts drizzled with honey.
- Bake for 30 minutes