Many of us are dreading the new season because: Cold. Dark.
White Walkers . But personally I think winter can be a beautiful time of year that’s perfect for rejuvenating ourselves quietly while we prepare for the spring season. That being said, winter is a perfect time to get sick, mainly because most of us resist changing our routine to accommodate the season’s demands like slowing down and getting more rest.
As I type this I’m sniffling because I broke one of the rules of staying well during this time of year, I knew better but I couldn’t resist stepping outside without a coat during the randomly balmy 60 degree weather day in the middle of December. One of the first things we learned in acupuncture school was to follow the guidelines of nature, going against the flow will usually land you underneath a mountain of kleenex tissues. So here are some really simple common sense tips to keep you healthy this winter season.
Dress Sensibly, (Yeah I’m Talking To You!)
Seems like a given right? If it’s chilly outside common sense says that you’ll wear clothing to keep you warm, right? Surprisingly not everyone abides by this very simple rule. I can’t tell you how many people I pass on the street wearing t-shirts, shorts, skirts without leggings or tights, thin jackets, no jackets, no scarves or hats when the thermometer is well below 70 degrees. Understandably when the weather behaves unusually it’s easy to become confused about how to dress. General rule of thumb:Wear layers and if it becomes too warm you can simply remove them as needed. Why? From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective your body works best in relation to the natural world around it. Even though the weather may say “Spring” the season is still Autumn/Winter underneath. Dress for the season of the month rather than the temperature of the day.
Protect Ya Neck!
No seriously. As the temperature continues to fall and the winds pick up always keep your neck covered especially the back of your neck. The 6 External Evils love to slip into the body at a sensitive point on the back of the neck we call Dàzhuī or Great Vertebra (DU 14). You’ve probably experienced wind & cold slipping into this point before. It usually starts out when you’re exposed to cold air (yes, even air conditioning) and you get the initial chill down your spine. Within a few hours you start to feel alternating chills & fever across your entire body, maybe with some other symptoms like a low grade fever, headache or cough if it’s allowed to go deeper into the body. That’s a wind invasion. The alternating chills & fever you feel is your body attempting to push the wind & cold back out. Luckily there’s a really simple formula you can use to help it fight it off.
(Pro Tip: no matter the time of year, always carry a scarf with you to protect your neck.)
Know Your Healing Herbs
The beauty of herbal medicine is that a good portion of it is common foods we can find in our local marketplaces. Common things like garlic, scallions orange peels and cinnamon can produce powerful healing results if you know when and how to use them. In the case of heading off the common cold or flu, there’s a great herbal formula we use called Gui Zhi Tang.
Its ingredients: Cinnamon Twigs, Fresh Ginger, White Peony Root, Jujube Dates and Honey Fried Licorice Root
Chances are you may not have white peony root, dates or licorice lying around your kitchen, but I’ve found that the paired down version of this formula is just as effective in a pinch. If you have some fresh ginger root and a few cinnamon sticks in your cabinets throw them into a pot with 2 cups of water, bring it to a boil then let it simmer until the decoction reduces by half, it should be a nice dark brown color. Pour it into a mug, get under the covers and drink it while it’s still hot. You want to drink it until you start to sweat, once you start sweating stop drinking. The sweating shows that the muscle layer where the wind or cold slipped in has opened up to expel the pathogen and that’s all that’s needed to start feeling better. Relax, rest in bed and wake up feeling a lot better in the morning!
Need some extra TLC? Book an acupuncture appointment with me or your local acupuncturist & herbalist, we’re trained to get you back into balance!
I hope these tips prove helpful this winter season. What are your go to remedies for the season? Share them in the comment section!