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


Chinese Herbal Soup Recipe for Building Immunity, Qi, & Blood

With the impending snowstorm and cold weather, it is important to build up your immunity to fight pathogens. Here is a Traditional Chicken Soup Recipe from one of my favorite professors at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine! Jeremy Pulsifer shared this recipe every semester with his Biological Aspects of Physics class because he knows how valuable it is to have strong Qi and blood.


Traditionally, herbs have been used in cooking for both their healing properties and for flavor enhancement. The food we eat should clear and energize the body and allow the spirit to flourish. This delicious Chinese herb soup will boost your immune system, support your lungs, and nourish your blood and Qi, your "life force". You will feel revitalized.

The herbs are tonifying and safe and help prevent common seasonal illnesses, such as colds and the flu.


1 Whole chicken, preferably organic

1 Packet of soup herbs (Astragalus Huang Qi, Ginseng Dang Shen, Reishi Mushroom Ling Zhi, Chinese Yam Shan Yao, Pear, Longan Fruit Long Yan Rou, Goji Berries Gou Qi Zi, & Honey fried Licorice Zhi Gan Cao)

Vegetables, your choice


After rinsing the chicken, place it in a large pot with the Chinese herbs. Fill the pot with cold water, allowing for two inches of water above the top of the chicken. Bring the water to a boil. Then put a lid on the pot, turn down the heat to allow a slow simmer, and continue cooking for about an hour. When the chicken is done, remove it from the broth and let it cool. (The meat will probably fall easily from the bones.) Add your favorite soup vegetables to the pot and continue cooking until the vegetables are done. Debone the chicken and return it to the soup.

Eat it in good health.


Dosage: Enjoy one bowl of soup daily, this recipe will last one person about one week.


This recipe is traditionally made as a chicken soup but it is still effective when the chicken is eliminated and only vegetables and the herbs are used.


The herb that looks like a tongue depressor should be removed as it has a woody texture and would not be pleasant to eat.


If any of these herbs are difficult to find, you can omit some of them. Otherwise, you can come in to the office and request them from us.


Originally published January 21, 2016.