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Staying Healthy In Winter With Traditional Chinese Medicine

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, living in harmony with the natural cycles of the environment can result in better health.

Winter is characterized by inactivity, cold temperatures, and dampness. These qualities should encourage us to rest more and consolidate our energy during the winter season in preparation for new life and energy in the spring. Colds and flu are especially common during the winter months, making it especially important to reflect on our health, replenish our energy, and conserve our strength during this time of year.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), winter is governed by the water element. The kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands are associated with this element. The primary function of these organs is to store reserve energy (Qi) in a person’s body so it can be used in times of stress or change, or to heal, prevent illness, and age gracefully. A person's kidney Qi is considered the source of all his or her energy.


During the winter months, many people tend to eat and drink less due to a decrease in physical activity. People may also eat more during this time due to festive holiday meals and social gatherings. Moderation is a key factor when it comes to eating during the holidays.

It is generally a good idea to avoid raw foods in the winter, as these tend to cool the body. During the winter, it is important to stay warm and foods that are warming can be beneficial for health. Selections may include root vegetables, soups and stews, beans, garlic and ginger—to name only a few. Eating warm hearty soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts will help keep the body’s core warm and nourished. Plenty of liquids—including warm teas—are also good additions to a diet.


Seasonal weather changes have a direct influence on the body’s environment. Wind, rain, and snow tends to result in colds, flu, aches, and pains.

Here are a few important reminders to stay healthy this winter:

  • Get plenty of sleep. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that a person's own yang energy (Qi) can be preserved during winter by going to sleep early and rising late whenever possible. This helps warm the body after the sun's rays have warmed the atmosphere.

  • Reduce stress. Stress has a negative effect on our health, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Low-level stress can cause headaches and muscle tension while high levels of stress can lead to sleeplessness and digestive problems. Stress reduction can be achieved through a number of activities. For example, yoga and meditation are proven stress reducers. Biofeedback, simple relaxation therapy, and reading are also beneficial.

  • Wash your hands regularly. The best way to protect yourself from getting sick is to practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly and not touching your face. Several studies have shown that one of the main reasons we catch colds and flu in the winter season is that we are indoors and in closer proximity to others in cold weather.


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture can help prevent colds and flu by strengthening the body's immune system. Acupuncture treatments that insert just a few needles into key points along the body's energy pathways go far to strengthen the body's immune system and keep a person healthier. These points are known for strengthening circulation of blood and energy, consolidating outer defense layers of skin and muscle (known as wei Qi), keeping out germs, viruses and other harmful organisms.

Seasonal acupuncture treatments of only as few as four times a year also serve to tonify internal organs. Acupuncture's ultra-thin needles do not hurt when inserted under the skin; licensed acupuncturists twist or stimulate them once or twice during treatment, then remove them within 10 to 20 minutes.


Even if you have already been sick, acupuncture and herbal medicine may help you recover more quickly. Because it treats the whole person rather than just the symptoms of an illness, it can complement Western medical treatment by providing a safe and non-toxic way to address discomfort caused by chills, sniffles, sore throat, or fever.


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