Acupuncture Scotland Blog

News and points of interest from Acupuncture Scotland

Staying Well in Winter

Winter has arrived this year with the earliest and heaviest snow recorded.  How has it affected you?  In Chinese medicine there is a lot of writing about the impact of our weather environment on our health and our energy levels.

Winter is the most yin aspect of our yearly seasonal cycle.  This means it is both the most cold and most inward time of the year.  To get a good understanding of this, all you need to do is look at the natural world.  Look at what is happeneing outside to trees, plants and animal life. Deciduous trees have lost their leaves, evergreen trees have stopped growing.  The sap in the trees that rises in spring and summer slows down as energy is conserved.  For animal life, things are quite tough, energy again needs to be conserved.  On very cold days most animals will hole up rest and try to keep warm. Many will struggle to survive. 

If you have read any of my other seasonal blogs you will know I go on about human nature and our relationship to the environment.  It is never more clear than what we do in winter.  What we are meant to do at this time of the year, and what we end up doing are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  What are we meant to do?  We are meant to follow nature, we are of course animals ourselves.  We are meant to slow down, conserve energy, sleep more, rest more and eat warm nourishing and seasonal food.

Our lives and our culture does not let this really happen. We battle into work and continue to work long days.  Some of this is confused by our ability to heat ourselves and feed ourselves as if we were living in summer.  Now, I am not suggesting that we all switch off our central heating and slip into a double layer sleeping bag and stay there until spring. It is a question of taking notice of what we are meant to do at this time of year.  These are my top tips:

  • Drink warm water, not cold.
  • Eat warm food, not cold summer food
  • Dress for the weather outside
  • Go to bed earlier
  • In short accept that it is winter and don't pretend it is summer!
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Late Summer

Late summer in Chinese Medicine relates to the time of year between full summer and Autumn.  Energy is said to be in balance at this time of year, the upward energy of spring and summer has slowed and stilled but the downward energy of Autumn had not yet begun.

It tends to be a humid time of year, a combination of warmth and wet.  This helps bring our harvest to full fruition, the final plumping up before the picking!

Some of us do not react so well to this time of year.  This would be described generally as having an underlying "damp" problem.  If you ae someone who suffers from sinusitits, or swollen joints or heavy lethargic limbs, these are all examples of damp issues.  You may just find this time of year fatiguing or notice that a condition you usually cope with is wose at this time. Things that you can do to cope with damp humid conditions:

Avoid damp forming food; this would be any food that slows up or clogggs up the digestion.  Avoid saturated fats from things like cheese, dairy products, fatty foods, red meats, fried food, crisps.  Don't eat too much raw or cold food, ices, fridge cold drinks.

Eat plenty of clean food, freshly prepared especially steamed foods and warm or room temperature drinks.

In short, eat healthy, clean and fresh foods.  Foods that are easy to digest.  Late summer is the season for the stomach, it is the season for paying special attention to our eating habits and avoiding tradtionally unhealthy foods.

Eat the earths bounty, with pleasure and company. 

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Summer is the time when our yang energy reaches its peak. At this time of year we should feel more outwardly energetic, it is the time to party and watch the natural world reach maturity.  The emotion associated with the summer is joy.  Do you feel better or worse in the summer? Is this a good season for you?   How you react to the current season is a good indicator to your health and can assist an acupuncturist diagnose how best to treat you. In good seasonal health this would mean you feel more open, more energetic, more socialble without being over the top about it.  If you are still waiting for your own summer or conversely you cannot stop partying, or cannot sleep so well, this would all indicate that you are out of balance with the season.

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