Winter Self-Care

By Xi Yang, Lic.Ac.

In the cold winter, as the temperature drops, the body’s immunity is reduced as well. We become more susceptible to various diseases such as upper respiratory tract infections, colds, bronchitis, allergic rhinitis, neck and shoulder pain, frozen shoulder, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dysmenorrhea and more. Especially for the elderly and immune-compromised, the cold is a risk factor for flaring up of chronic diseases. Our metabolic systems became slower, some of the toxins in the body cannot be cleansed in time, and cold and dampness can accumulate in the body impairing immune system functioning, and causing digestive problems.

To help prevent or alleviate these problems, here are some helpful tips from Chinese medicine to keep you and your loved ones healthy all winter long.

  • Get More rest: Winter is the season of the kidney, and the season of storage. In winter, tranquility and peacefulness help store our energy, so that we can use it for our next cycle of growth (Spring).
  • Keep your neck warm: “The wind-evil (energy) is the main factor to induce various disease,” according to Simple Questions (Su Wen), an important ancient text from our medicine. In Chinese medicine, common winter diseases such as common cold, influenza, and bronchitis are coming from an external invasion of wind, cold, damp etc. The back of our neck is the area that is most vulnerable. Wear a scarf, particularly after exercising, and bundle up before going out into the cold – it is very important.
  • Warm food: It is best to focus on warming soups and stews instead of salad in the winter, so your body doesn’t have to spend extra energy to warm up the food you ate before the stomach breaks it down.
  • Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Moxa): Acupuncture can help  to improve your immune system and support your body for a better fight. Moxa is a form of heat treatment that stimulates specific acupuncture points so it can deeply warm the whole body.