Winter Health Suggestions:
We are into the coldest part of the year and this corresponds to the time of the year when we want to focus on the Kidneys.
At this time of year it makes sense to rest and sleep more. Sleep is the best way to restore and preserve Kidney Yang, the underlying motive force of the metabolism. It makes sense to do less activity at this time of the year and to conserve energy. This is a regeneration time and a preparation for the coming new year and warmer months. If you think about the hibernation behaviors of other mammals, you will see what I'm describing here.
For those who suffer from allergies and respiratory infections in the spring time, this is also a good time to begin strengthening your system in preparation. Acupuncture, Qigong and herbs are very useful in this regard.
Focus on warming foods at this time of year and try and eat more legumes, meats, soups made from bones, eggs and nuts. All of these will benefit the Kidneys. Bones are considered to contain Kidney essence and yin and will strengthen your Kidneys and physical structure. All of the foods that are egg-like/seed-like, that contain life essence food, that new life will germinate from, are considered good for the Kidneys. The therapeutic flavor of the Kidney is "salty" and you may notice a craving towards more savory flavors at this time. A little salt is good, but be prudent.
Dried seaweeds (nori) are also very good for the Kidneys.
Remember to dress warm, protect the warmth of your lower back where your Kidneys are situated and where your foundational Source Qi is located. Protect the back of your head and neck and upper back as well- a particularly vulnerable area that we in Asian medicine consider the area where cold will enter the body and cause illness.
Acupuncture and herbs are very useful for a number of ailments including those we most associate with this time of year with the onset of cold weather, when fatigue sets in and as we participate in holiday indulgences: respiratory infections, arthritis, influenza, headaches, insomnia and digestive issues. If you are someone who suffers from a weak immune system and battle chronic sinusitis or bronchitis during these months, there are herbal formulas that are quite effective at boosting immunity.
Warming Ginger Tea for Energy and Improved Digestion:
This recipe is good if you are cold and tired. It also helps the digestion during this time of feasting.
1 large piece of ginger root
2 TBSP of honey
Take a ginger root and cut it into 1/8" thick slices.
In summertime place these slices in the sun and dry them thoroughly. They will absorb the Yang Qi.
At this time of year place them on a cookie sheet and leave them in the oven over night to dry out a bit.
Fill a small pot with water and place 4 slices of the dried ginger in the water.
Bring to a boil and steep for 20 minutes.
Pour into a hot mug and add honey and lemon to taste.
You may use fresh slices of ginger, but the dried ginger has a more pronounced warming quality and will help warm the interior and the organs. Ginger tea is particularly good for digestion, for helping to resolve phlegm, for calming inflammation, and its good for helping to ward off a cold at the initial onset. Ginger, citrus and honey all have anti-microbial properties.
If fending off a cold, add the sliced-up stocks of two scallions to 6 fresh ginger root slices and boil for 20 minutes, add honey and lemon, then drink.
Take a hot shower, put on several layers of clothes and get into bed and sweat. When the sweat subsides, change to dry clothes.
Thank you Mike Ishii, L.Ac.