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 balance of fire and water are the perfect example of the balance of Yin Energy and Yang Energy.

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


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys are the Organ most likely to be damaged by fear and to cause a person to be more prone to feeling fear when damaged or suffering imbalance. So it’s not surprising that something which can build up the Kidneys would help panic attacks when the panic attacks have a root of Kidney imbalance.

There are a lot of different things that can cause panic attacks. About the most well-known one is respiratory alkalosis. This is the CO2 (carbon dioxide) level in the blood is too low and the pH (measure of acidity-alkalinity) is too high (too alkaline). The person feels like s/he’s smothering and needs more oxygen, but the O2 level is too high. It’s the CO2 level that needs to be brought up.

This is the condition where if the person will hold his/her breath or breathe into a paper bag (and re-breathe CO2 just exhaled), the CO2 content of the blood will rise and the pH will get lower (less alkaline), and the breathing problems and the panic will stop. The most common cause of respiratory alkalosis is hyperventilation (breathing too fast and too swallow), and the most common cause of hyperventilation is anxiety. When the CO2 drops low enough and the pH rises too high, the anxiety turns into a panic attack.

Without a doubt, there are situations in our lives that cause fear. This is something we must “pick apart” in order to find it’s roots. There may be one or two things that are not allowing your mind to be free. Write them down.

Fear and the Amygdala

Whether you are ecstatic, dejected or frightened, emotions certainly can have a grip on your life. In the world of science, however, emotions did not have such a hold. In the past they took a back seat to more clear-cut scientific topics. But now an increasing amount of evidence is showing that the emotion of fear is decipherable. The identification of a specific brain system that processes fear is spurring a great interest in the field. New discoveries could explain the mystery behind many mental disorders and prompt the development of new treatments.

An almond-shaped area of the brain, the amygdala (uh-mig-dah-la) receives signals of potential danger and begins to set off a series of reactions that will help you protect yourself, according to an increasing number of studies. Additional messages sent to the amygdala determines whether there is a threat or not.

Fear can often be a daily part of our lives. The fight or flight response can occur when an individual is subjected to fear such as a threatening situation or a resistant or hostile event. The response may be one of confrontation or one of avoidance such as running. The response involves all parts of the nervous system, as well as the endocrine system, and can be consciously or unconsciously mediated.

The autonomic part of the fight-or-flight response results in a general increase in sympathetic activity, including heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, muscular strength, and can trigger an adrenaline surge that quickens your pulse, raises blood pressure, kick-starts anxiety and prepares you for “fight or flight.” The fight-or-flight response is adaptive because it enables the individual to resist or move away from a threatening situation. can trigger an adrenaline surge that quickens your pulse, raises blood pressure, kick-starts anxiety and prepares you for “fight or flight.”

Fear And Your Inner Child

Sometimes when we are fearful, the part of us that is often afraid is the child within us.

1. Identify what you are afraid of: _______________________.

2. Do not ignore the part of you that feels afraid. It is often the part we don’t want to listen or pay attention to.

3. Name three things you can do to SUPPORT yourself through this fear:
a). ___________________________
b). ___________________________
c). ___________________________

4. Understand that the inner child in you is fearful. Your support should be geared toward more compassion and patience when listening to your fear.

5. Now learn to release your fear (See below).

Tips for Releasing Your Fears

The single most important thing you should know is that: danger is real but FEAR is a choice.

No matter what type of fear you are experiencing, there are many techniques which will allow us to move forward.

1. By slowly taking away the “layers” of fear and discovering what is truly at the root of this fear, it enables us to deal with it from a higher point of view and opens up a path in which to re-balance.

2. Look at them on paper. Send them to me if you like (we can look at them together). Be honest with yourself when you write them out. Go with your immediate intuition. Fears have a tendency to dissolve when we are looking them face on.

3. Re-balance. As a holistic individual, you know that your body is continuously in a state of re-balancing itself. This is how we function. This is how we grow. By holding on to a fear, we are not allowing this processes (your intuitive state) to flow freely. This block can be the cause of a much bigger problem.

4. Letting go. By giving this fear up to the Universe to handle, you are essentially allowing yourself to release this fear, and in turn strip away any kind of meaning or significance it may have upon you. By letting go, this allows you to move to the next level in your life. The next natural process. Often times, this is a fear in itself. The fear of “what will happen when I DO move to my next stage in life?” Feeling protected comes by trusting the Universe, which always comes by letting go of the fear.

5. Let your guard down. Let it go. This is not a fear. This is a great journey. Allow yourself to follow it.

6. Being Grounded. Being grounded is related to our survival instincts, and to our sense of connection to our bodies and the physical plane.

7. Being Aware. Ideally, being aware allows us the understanding of fear, which gives us the comfort to feel protected. Once you know what your fear is, you can take steps to address it. Being aware can keep us healthy, secure, and allow us dynamic presence.

8. Be Familiar. When we are familiar, we are comfortable and we feel connected with our physical body and the space around us.

9. Be Open. Being open, gives us the ability to be conscious and secure in ourselves and determines how we look at life around us. This roots us in survival of both the physical realm and spiritual body.

10. Deep Breathing. Learn to breath deeper. This is very helpful in stressful situations. It allows for the release of carbon dioxide (stress) and room to take in fresh, soothing air (calm).

Crystals and Uncovering Our Deepest Fears

Sometimes when we are fearful, we may not see what seems to be the cause. Eluding us, as we are unable to see the forest for the trees, the vision through the clouds or unable to see past our own emotional confusion. Here are just a few crystals that are very effective when dealing with fear:

Aquamarine has the calming, soothing energy of the sea. This is the stone of courage. Tranquilizing, uplifting, openness, innocence, lightheartedness, creativity, communication, self-awareness, confidence, purpose. Used for protection on journeys, especially those who travel on water. Affects etheric and mental levels. Helps stabilize and harmonize unsettled surroundings. Helps reduce fears. Has an affinity with sensitive and mystical people.

Charoite helps one to deal with both known and unknown fears. It works with Third Eye and Crown Chakra to transmute/lift us out of emotional fear. Helps us see old patterns with new possibilities. Opens the heart for inspiration, service, seeing clearly (mentally, physically, psychically) and faster healing.

Hematite is a grounding stone which clears the mental stress, distractions and nervous energies surrounding your situation. It condenses scattered feelings, turns fuzziness into mental clarity, enhances concentration, memory, practicality and helps with sound sleep. Considered the symbol of life energy, hematite allows for more confidence, will power and boldness. Helps us adjust to being physical. A protective stone and helps bolster low self-esteem. Hematite is known to deflect negativity. It restores equilibrium, stability and is also used for astral protection.

Obsidian will bring up anything which is hidden, and is best used with any of the quartz (especially rose quartz and aventurine) to soften its effect. Absorbs and dissolves anger, criticism, fear, therefore, it is also protective.


Shock (Fright)

Shock or trauma can have a profound and deep effect on the emotional body. Shock is often immediate, while trauma can be immediate or from long term or past experiences. Doctors and therapists often miss effects of shock or trauma. Such things as surgery, falls, car accidents, burns and physical, emotional or sexual abuse may well traumatize people. Such trauma happens when the shock mechanisms of the nervous system do not return to normal homoeostatic control.

Emotional trauma and shock usually arise from stressful experiences. It can even be during our earliest development, including prenatal development and birth. Shock obscures access to full consciousness, including the deepest and most instinctual aspects of the Self. This can result in difficulties with intimacy, spirituality and self-esteem. Shock is held in the body and reactivated by events in daily life until it is resolved.

Crystals for Shock

Shock obscures access to full consciousness, including the deepest and most instinctual aspects of the Self. This can result in difficulties with intimacy, spirituality and self-esteem. Shock is held in the body and reactivated by events in daily life until it is resolved. Here are some of the best crystals for shock and trauma:

Aquamarine has the calming, soothing energy of the sea. This is the stone of courage. Tranquilizing, uplifting, openness, communication, self-awareness, confidence, purpose. Helps stabilize and harmonize unsettled surroundings. Helps reduce fears.

Amber can add stability to your life. Helpful in clearing up depression and suicidal thoughts therefore, bringing about a positive mental state.

Carnelian releases trauma, anoints the aura and can be used in the grid below on the Sacral Spleen Chakra.

Clear Quartz is a master healer and is useful for seeing a clear and finite picture.

Fluorite helps one become more aware of the higher levels of reality and can anchor and free one from over stimulation.

Green Jade brings serenity, peace of mind and calms nervous stress.

Green Tourmaline resonates with the heart and traumatic situations that may be lasting with the body creating physical symptoms. Works well at the Heart Chakra. Pass this stone over the entire body to locate where emotional trauma my be blocking free energy flow.

Kyanite is useful for recent shock or trauma. Keep it with you during the healing process. The crystal helps with your recuperation by revitalizing your energy.

Morganite clears both conscious and unconscious negative programming.

Rhodonite placed over the Heart Chakra and helps to heal emotional wounds.

Rose Quartz: is a fantastic heart soother and can also address the issue of shock or trauma in a crystal grid on the Sacral Spleen Chakra.

Rutilated Quartz reorganizes the energy integrity of the aura as well as the Chakra centers. It helps to repair the damage done by trauma and rejuvenates the natural flow of Qi or vital energy.

Sodalite helps bring emotional balance. Great as a gem essence or as an elixir oil massaged into the Throat Chakra.

Turquoise is a multi-purpose healing stone that soothes the Throat Chakra, works to heal missing energy or “holes” in the aura and gathers safe blue energy to lay within a grid.


Discover more remedies for Winter….

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