In Chinese medicine, each season is associated with a pair of organs, a color, a flavor, and a pathogenic factor that causes disease. And even if it might not always feel like it here is southern California, we have already entered Winter a few weeks ago now.
Winter starts way earlier than Winter solstice according to the lunar calendar. Keeping this in mind will help you understand the basic recommendations of this seasonal node.
The days feel short and cold and the darkness of night arrives early. It’s a time of slowing down and going inward, in order to preserve energy and seek warmth.
Chapter 2 of the Huang Di Nei Jing says Winter is the time of “closing and storage” (閉藏). It is the season of hibernation, a phase of ultimate Yin silence and stillness, so that Yang can be reborn again in the spring.
The organs associated with the Winter are the Kidneys, the Bladder (and by extension the Adrenal glands). The associated phase is Water, flavor is Salty, color is Black, and the pathogenic factor that causes the most problems in Winter is Cold.
Support adrenals, kidneys & bladder
It is not uncommon that weaknesses in those organs manifest in the Winter. The adrenal function will be tested this time of year, and for many working long stressful days energy reserves will feel diminished.
Here are some typical manifestations of kidney/adrenals depletion:
weakness or pain in the low back or knees
loose stools early in the morning
a sensation of cold in the lower abdomen
dark circles under the eyes (link)
The first steps to counteract adrenal exhaustion should include :
Slowing down, going out less, looking inward more with meditation
Eating warming foods
Cutting back stimulants like caffeine
Cutting iced and cold drinks
Cutting back raw and cold foods
Increasing the amount of sleep, quiet time and rest
Eat warming foods to keep the cold away
Focus on creating simple, well-cooked meals to promote easy digestion, such as soups and stews. To be in harmony with the energy of the season, we would want to hibernate and spend more time at home rather than eating out.
That’s also the best way to know exactly what goes into your body. If you’re a carnivore like I am, remember that only well sourced organic hormone free meat is worth eating.
Favor the following foods for Kidney health:
Walnuts, Almonds, Chestnuts
Clove, Ginger, Cinnamon bark, Turmeric
Black beans, Brown rice, Oats, Lentils
Onion, Leek, Scallion, Garlic, Chives
Salmon, Trout, Mussels
Royal Jelly & Bee Pollen
Algea: Spirulina, Chlorella, Nori
Mushrooms: shiitake, wood-ear
You can increase foods that have a black color, because black corresponds to winter and the kidneys according to the 5-element theory. Read more in our article here.
Treat your feet!
Winter is the season of Kidney/Bladder, and our bodies are susceptible to cold. The kidney meridian starts right at the sole of the foot, while the bladder meridian ends at the outside of your little toe.
Therefore, your feet are one of the main access points to both these channels, and keeping your feet warm will help prevent damage to the meridians and related organs.
Did you know that keeping your feet warm can help prevent heel pain, knee pain, and even low back pain? So remember these tips :
Keep your feet warm
Do not walk bare foot at home, but wear socks and slippers
Massage your feet with warm oil (Ayurvedic tradition called abhyanga)
Soak your feet in warm water with these DIY foot soaks
Epsom salt: Add 1½ cups of epsom salts to warm water. Alleviates constipation, reduces fatigue, improves sleep.
Ginger & cooking wine: Boil Ginger slices (50g), and add Chinese white wine (50ml) to the hot water. Especially good for those with cold extremities in winter.
Ginger & dandelion: Boil Ginger (50g) & dandelion (50g) in water. This soak can help relieve symptoms of flu, fever or headache.
And of course, talk to your acupuncturist for a winter balancing protocol !