Winter Season

The winter is upon us and I think we can all agree that the short days and grey skies can be draining, mentally and physically. Many of you know that acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help with feelings of depression and lethargy, as well as boost immunity to keep away the cold and flu. Still, it is important to understand the winter within the context of the four seasons so that we can better utilize and even appreciate the winter months.


Let's first discuss the theory of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposing energies that complete each other and create balance in our bodies and the universe.  According to the ancient Chinese medical text, the Huangdi Nejiing, "...the change of yin (rest) and yang (activity) energy throughout the four seasons is the root of life, growth, reproduction, aging, and destruction. By respecting this natural law it is possible to be free from illness." Essentially, we are a part of nature, and the external environment we are exposed to affects the internal environment we maintain. Listening to our bodies and getting in tune with the season can help to promote health and longevity.


WINTER - According to Chinese medicine, there are a series of characteristics that are associated with each season. During the winter months all things in nature "wither, hide, return home, and enter a resting period, just as lakes and rivers freeze and snow falls." The philosophy of the season is conservation, storage, reflection, and retreat. This is a time when yin energy dominates over yang energy. For this reason we should focus on embodying yin and preserving yang. This allows us to feel well and properly embrace the coming Spring, a time of yang energy. Winter is a time to get cozy indoors with those you love, eat some warm and nutritious foods, and store up your energy and resources.


                                                     WINTER CHARACTERISTICS

Nature: Yin

Element: Water

Climate: Cold

Direction: North

Emotion: Fear

Taste: Salty

Grain: Millet

Organ: Kidney

Color: Black


Here are a few nuggets of ancient wisdom on how to behave during the winter months:


   Retire early and get up with the sunrise

   Stay warm, avoid the cold, and keep your pores closed/avoid sweating

   Soak your feet in warm/hot water, this warms and activates the Kidney channel, the channel most affected by the cold (the Kidney channel originates on the bottom of the feet)

   Apply a hot water bottle or heating pad to your low back (this warms the Kidneys directly)

   Eat warming foods (hearty soups, stews, congee) ginger, cinnamon, whole grains, squash, root veggies - carrots, beets, potatoes, onions, garlic

   Use immune boosting essential oils - eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, thyme, lemon


It's Spring!

Tomorrow is the start of spring!

Heres some wisdom from the classic Chinese text, Huang Di Nei Jing, on the spring season...

"The three months of the spring season bring about the revitalization of all things in nature. It is the time of birth. This is when heaven and earth are reborn. During this season it is advisable to retire early. Arise early also and go walking in order to absorb the fresh invigorating energy. Since this is the season in which the universal energy begins anew and rejuvenates, one should attempt to correspond to it directly by being open and unsuppressed, both physically and emotionally."

Enjoy the beautiful weather and start this season fresh with an acupuncture treatment today!


Originally published March 20, 2016.

Make Your Spleen Happy & Prepare for the Holidays

The holidays are approaching and it is time to enjoy family and friends and stuff our faces with feasts and sweets. But how does this affect us? Be better prepared to digest this holiday season with these useful tips from M & R Acupuncture.


     According to traditional Chinese medicine, the most active parts of digestion occur in the spleen and stomach. The stomach stores food and drink, while the spleen processes it all. Changing the food from a delicious treat to nourishment & energy that the whole body can use. However, when the spleen or stomach are not strong, digestion can get out of whack.


     After over indulging in a thanksgiving feast, the stomach has trouble fully digesting. This leads to fullness and bloating in the belly with heart burn (acid regurgitation), belching, and discomfort. In many cases, the symptoms can be as bad as to include insomnia, loose stools, or constipation. The simplest way to prevent all this would be to not overeat. But hey, it’s thanksgiving! So, that’s easier said than done. The next best way to prevent food stagnation is to boost the spleen before the holidays.


     A healthy spleen, in Chinese medicine, will transform food into usable energy and transport this energy throughout the body to where it is needed most. However, an underfunctioning spleen can make it hard to enjoy a holiday meal. A weak spleen, or Spleen Qi deficiency, presents itself with symptoms like weakness, fatigue, abdominal distension (bloating), and loose stools. An easy way to boost Spleen Qi is by modifying your diet.


     Prior to the holidays, try eating more cooked warm foods and soups. These are easier for the spleen to digest and over time lead to more energy. Incorporate root veggies such as sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, & beets into the diet and cook with cinnamon. Also, it is better to avoid raw vegetables during this time of the year. They take more effort for the spleen to digest because they need to be warmed up in the stomach first. Lastly, light exercise and deep breathing are great ways to strengthen spleen & stomach Qi without having to do much at all. A simple walk around the neighborhood every day with a 5-10 minute meditation can make a huge difference in your life.


     If the holidays have already come and gone and you feel the digestive toll of the holidays, come in for acupuncture and Chinese herbs. These are two very effective ways to get your body back in balance.


We at M & R Acupuncture hope that you have found this information helpful. Please use this article only for informational purposes. It is advised that you speak with a trained herbalist before taking traditional Chinese herbal medicine.


If you would like to speak to someone about how acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help you, please give us a call at (631) 338-2924 to book a free 15 minutes consultation


Originally published November 17, 2015.