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Winter, time to reflect and rest, a Chinese medicine perspective

winter time to reflect

Although this year’s has been incredibly mild so far we are now well into the Winter season, which in Chinese Medicine is associated to the Water element, the Kidneys and Bladder (see table for list). 
In Nature Winter is the time for rest and preservation of energy in anticipation of the rebirth of Spring.  For us too this should be a time for internal focus and maintenance of our reserves.  This is therefore the perfect time for meditation and rest.  Failing to recognise our need to rest may result in feeling run down, being more prone to illness and less able to fight off colds and flus.  If you find you have been having a lingering cough or cold for weeks chances are you may have run yourself down over the holidays and are now paying the price. We should be less active during this season, go to bed earlier and sleep later than at other times of year.  There will be plenty of time to be more energetic once days get longer and warmer and our stamina and ability to get things done at that time also depends on our ability to be still and rest at other times.
Water Element Associations: 

“[In Winter], people should retire early at night and rise late in the morning, and they   should wait for the rising of the sun.”NeiJing Su WEn – 1st Century B.C.

Sense OrganEars
Yin OrganKidneys
Yang OrganBladder
TissueBones and bone marrow

Water, Kidneys and Bones health

The concept of Kidney in Chinese medicine refers to various organs and functions and among other things the Kidneys are said to fill the bones, bone marrow, brain and spinal cord. Therefore, many conditions involving bone health includes kidney strengthening treatments.

Bone Building Foods

From a Chinese medicine perspective, beneficial foods include: chestnuts, clams, dark green vegetables, leafy greens, oily fish (salmon, sardines), seafood such as shrimp, soybeans. These foods also happen to be rich in calcium and Vitamin D, both important nutrients for bone health.  Other helpful foods are sea plants such as algae, especially microalgae such as chlorella, blue-green algae and spirulina.  These are often called superfoods and contain Quercetin, a potent antioxidant that stimulates bone building cells.

Calcium….and magnesium

We are all aware of the effect of calcium on bone health but too often are unaware that in order to absorb calcium properly into our bones we need magnesium.  It is important to eat plenty of foods rich in calcium but also magnesium (Nature actually provides us with quite a few foods rich in both!) and if are taking supplements make sure you have both calcium AND magnesium.

Regular exercise

Regular exercise can slow the progress of osteoporosis and a combination of gentle weight-bearing exercises, walking and yoga or taichi can do wonders to keep you flexible and energetic through the winter, without depleting your energy reserves.