Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winter and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Winter is the time of year which corresponds to our Kidneys and Bladder. It is the Water element, the color is black (or blue), and the emotion is fear.

Symptoms which may be associated with the Water element include

  • bladder and/or kidney infections
  • low back pain
  • knee pain
  • cavities in teeth
  • weak or broken bones
  • infertility
  • premature gray hair or hair loss
  • ringing in the ears
  • increase of phobias or fears

To strengthen the Water energy and keep the body in balance, it's important to keep yourself warm. Wear scarves around your neck and extra layers or scarves around your mid-section (in Japan, this is called a haramaki, or belly warmer: a tube of material which can be quite fashionable, which goes around your midsection to keep your abdomen and kidneys warm.)

If you are on a high raw or 100% raw food diet, you can add spices such as ginger to your juices and cinnamon to your foods. You can gently warm soups, and make sure to eat plenty of well blended food, as these meals are easier to digest. Fresh cranberries also make a nice addition to juices or purees this time of year, and help protect the bladder and kidneys from infection as well (especially if you are prone to this type of infection.)

Here is one of my favorite winter juice recipes:

Juice the following:

  • 5 carrots
  • 3 apples
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 inch knob fresh ginger

I usually add water to the juice, especially because this one is so sweet.

Warm miso soup is also a wonderful meal: heat the water and let it cool back down to ninety or one hundred degrees (warm to the touch.) Add scallions, sliced mushrooms, wakame (a sea vegetable), grated ginger and carrots, and miso, which is best first made into a paste with warm water and then added to the soup. Enjoy this soup warm.

In macrobiotic cooking, aduki beans and black beans are beneficial for the kidneys (these would be cooked beans; the macrobiotic tradition cooks the food.) Millet and winter squash are also good choices for balancing energy this time of year.

Herbs which benefit the kidneys are nettles, he shou wu (also known as Foti root), and the formula Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, or Rehmannia Six.

Now is a wonderful time of year to get acupuncture, especially if you notice any of the above symptoms. Points such as K3 and K6 on the ankle are helpful to boost the Kidney energy, as well as bladder points along the spine on the back. Moxibustion is wonderful this time of year to help add heat to the body via the acu-points, abdomen and meridians.

As always, we are happy to answer your questions. Please comment below, email us at or give us a call (412) 381-0116.

Thanks so much!

Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

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