by Andrew Pacholyk MS LAc. ~
Winter. This is the time for us to rest and replenish.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers practical advice for adjusting to seasonal changes. One of the basic concepts in TCM is the 5 Element Theory of correspondences. Each element has an associated season, emotion, taste, organ…
The Season of Winter is associated with the element Water. The emotional aspect is Fear. The predominant taste is Salty. The associated and most effected organ in Winter are the Kidney and Urinary Bladder and the most common external element is Cold.
Strengthening the immune system should be a part of any seasonal ritual! Any tonic formula that strengthens the kidneys and urinary bladder, nourishes the Qi and preserve our essence is appropriate. Remember, the best form of medicine, is preventative. Consider Andrew’s great Winter Tonic Tea.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine can help boost the immune system, no matter what state your body is in. If you have already caught a cold, acupuncture and herbal medicine can help with the chills, body aches, sore throat or fever in a safe, non-toxic approach that differs from the Western approach of filling the body with harmful antibiotics. It will often speed recovery time. Acupuncture does not interfere with Western medical treatment either as it provides a complement with the emphasis on treating the whole person.
The Kidneys and Bladder
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, The kidneys and urinary bladder are associated with Winter. They belong to the element of Water. The Kidney “system” as a whole, is the storage house of our vital Essence, vitality or Jing (the basic materials that make up our constitution and the reproductive fluids that create life). Libido levels, reproduction, water metabolism and the development of our overall health are associated with the health of the Kidneys. All organs are dependent on the Kidneys for proper growth, reproduction, water flow and control and the balance of “fire and water”. The liver sends water soluble waste to the kidneys, where they are further filtered and passed through the bladder for elimination. The kidneys filter nutrients and waste from the blood.
The Kidney system in Chinese Medicine is associated with the development of brain tissue, blood, spinal fluid, marrow, teeth and bones. The Kidneys rule the lower body, are associated with the urinary bladder, is represented by the root of tongue and opens into the ears. Metaphysically, our kidneys are associated with the development of our Will. The kidneys are associated with the flavor of salt and represented by the color of black and/or blue. Our kidneys relate to the emotion of fear.
Signs and symptoms of poor kidney function or yang energy deficiency due to excess cold include cold lower back, legs, incontinence, slow mental or physical movement, fluid retention of the limbs and mid-section, frequent urination and stiff, cold joints, especially the knees.
Signs and symptoms of poor kidney function or yin energy deficiency due to excess heat include dry skin, ringing ears, water retention, night sweats, insomnia, emotional fright, constipation, restlessness, anxiety, agitation, red face , weak bones, chronic fever or sore throat, dry mouth, memory loss, hot palms/feet/chest, slow healing wounds, rashes or bumps, hair loss, weak eyes, extreme libido levels, dark urine, pre-mature ejaculation, hot flashes and a weak or sore lower back.
Supporting the adrenals compliments your kidney care. These glands produce hormones in response to stress and regulate blood pressure, glucose metabolism, and the body’s salt and water balance.
The Water Element
The element, Water is associated with the Winter season and with cold.
The element is associated with the kidneys and the bladder, which regulate water metabolism and to the reproductive system. There is also a strong relationship with the immune system and the ability of the body to lubricate, repair and protect itself.
The Water Signs of the zodiac are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Water is the symbol of our emotions. All life forms consist of water. It involves healing, compassion, reconciliation, friendship, de-stressing, insight, peace, sleep, dreams, intuition and psychic intentions and health and beauty. A positive water person is sensitive, caring and nurturing. Sometimes they can be a little over emotional and over dramatic in all areas of life. A good balance of water here is needed to keep so that the water person can share there true gifts.
Emotionally, water represents taste, which is experienced on the tongue. It also represents one’s taste in general and one’s desire to taste or experience the world. Therefore, excess water is often equated with sensuality, possessiveness and greed.
Psychologically, water represents a good memory. This can manifest as dwelling on the past. But the ultimate experience of water is remembering that we all share life as a common heritage. This manifests as peace, love and compassion.
Fear and depression tend to become the dominant emotion this time of year often because of the lack of light the eyes receive. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) also called winter depression describe a form of depression that occurs in the winter months. Women are affected more often than men, and the prominent symptoms are low mood, starting in autumn or winter, lack of energy, irritability, overeating, weight gain, a craving for carbohydrates, lack of interest in socializing and increased sleep and daytime sleepiness. In Winter, people should stabilize their emotions and cultivate their mind