Notes from Your Acupuncturist: Yin of Winter

By Peter Schechter, L. Ac.

Holistic medicine often focuses on living happily and healthily with each season. With the new year and winter (the most Yin of all seasons), achieving this may seem like a bigger challenge than in the spring. By taking a few steps to embrace the Yin-cold of the season, and nourish the in-short-supply Yang-heat, you can kick those winter blues and maybe even avoid the cold that everyone in the office seems to be passing around.

Yin runs deep and moves slowly; and so should we. Winter is a time to be rest, to meditate, and to nourish the body for the year to come. The silence of winter and the start of the new year encourages us to listen more to ourselves and to those around us.

With that said, as much as we work to unify with the Yin of winter, we must also nourish the weakened Yang. In Chinese Medicine, it is Yang that heats the body enough to support normal physiological functions like digestion and a healthy immune system. A few changes in your diet will help keep balance and assist you in staying healthy and warm through these dark months.

Winter is the time of hearty soups and roasted vegetables. The longer nights allow us to take more time to cook; the body finds nourishment in the sounds and smells of the kitchen.  Avoid uncooked vegetables if you can, and instead lightly steam your greens, this will warm your digestion and moisten winter dryness. Use ginger and cinnamon in your food and teas regularly. Try to include warming grains and seeds such as oats, lentils, chestnuts (roasted on an open fire, perhaps?), and brown rice. Vegetables that are particularly warming include: squash, sweet potatoes, kale, and garlic. My favorite winter recipe these days is this coconut lentil soup. With ginger, cinnamon, curry, and coconut, it’s hearty, nourishing and delicious. Paired with simple roasted vegetables this is a perfect weeknight winter meal!

As part of every acupuncture appointment, we will discuss personalized dietary therapy and herbal medicine catered to your constitution and habits. Additionally, acupuncture and the other services I offer, can help boost your immunity, get rid of those winter blues, and alleviate neck and shoulder pain. If you’re interested in acupuncture, but not ready for a full 80-minute private treatment, come to our Community Acupuncture Night on Tuesday, January 16th and try it out!

Acupuncture Question of the Month:

Does acupuncture really work?

Yes! While I tend to think “if people have been using it for thousands of years, there must be something to it”, science has gone farther. Through rigorous scientific study, various institutions including The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the American College of Physicians have all recognized and recommended acupuncture for conditions ranging from sciatica and anxiety to premenstrual symptoms and migraines.