October 13, 2022

Better Health in Winter: A Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective

Cold, wet, dark – three words that summarise Winter here in Melbourne! As the outer season changes, does this impact our internal world; our health? One of our Chinese Medicine doctors and acupuncturists, Dr. Yong Pan, explains how we can support our bodies during these colder months, to optimise our wellbeing and align with nature.

One of the central philosophies of traditional Chinese medicine is that human beings should stay in harmony with the cosmos. Therefore, the best way of keeping healthy is to live in accordance with the seasons; the rhythmic songs being sung by the universe.

The whole outer world is withered due to the coldness in winter but the earth inside is warm. This inner warmth can nurture life, so that it can unfold its beauty in the next Spring. The human body operates in quite a similar way. Our physical surface is dominated by mostly Yin energy, while Yang energy comes into the core to illuminate the internal world. In TCM, Yin represents feminine, slower, gentle & restorative energies, while Yang symbolises the masculine, stronger & more proliferative energies. In our outer world, the Moon would represent Yin, while the Sun represents Yang.

Based on the nature of these energies during Winter, it’s an ideal time to turn our attention inward for replenishing the life vitality, also referred to as the kidney essence from traditional Chinese medicine theory. Cultivating this kidney essence can help develop our internal energy – what keeps us feeling strong, vital & healthy.

Here are five tips for integrating the TCM insights into our daily life in Winter for better health.
1. Always keep warm to prevent a “cold attack”, as the weather is chill and frosty, but unfortunately, Yang is weak on the body surface. Keeping warm and not letting yourself get cold helps preserve your inner vitality. Make sure you wear thick socks or warm slippers around the house and even gloves, beanies and jackets as you need.

2. Have simple, plain meals and remove fried, spicy or rich foods. These foods may contribute to the excessive accumulation of Yang inside our body, which is most likely the underlying cause of various acute inflammations, infections, insomnia or pain syndromes.

3. Slow down with fewer desires & demands from life. As an old saying goes, “sowing in Spring, growing in Summer, harvesting in Autumn and storing in Winter”. A busy, stressful life and intense routines consume energy, which disturbs kidney essence storage. When you deplete these stores, vitality is lost, and you may be worse or experience uncomfortable symptoms.

4. Keep your kidneys healthy to preserve your vitality. Your kidneys are more prone to health imbalances during Winter, which can lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs) or excess urination. The kidney governs the urinary bladder, ears, bones, reproductive ability and endocrine system (your hormones) from a Chinese medicine perspective. People with a relevant medical history have to be more careful and take precautions. Ask your Chinese medicine doctor or healthcare practitioner for tailored support to prevent kidney imbalances.

5. Go to bed as early as you can. To be more aligned with the cosmos, we must pay attention to the cycles of the Sun and the Moon. Going to bed closer to sunset, rather than late into the night, can help us achieve optimal balance. In the mornings, get Qi flowing with light movements such as walking, jogging, or Tai Chi. This movement can nourish your Yin energy and prevent the stagnation of Yang.

We hope these tips can help you stay more balanced & vital during this Winter. If you’d like to book an appointment with Dr. Yong Pan for acupuncture & assessment from a Chinese Medicine perspective, you can book in here.