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Jun 13

Winter and the Element of Water

Winter is a time when the essence in nature is revealed to us. The trees have lost their flowers and leaves, and only the bareness of the trunk and branches are left. There is stillness, an inwardness, as nature seeks to conserve its energy to be ready for the next season of growth.

Winter Tree

For us, it is a time for inward reflection, to get back to the essence of ourselves. It is a time of nurturing the self by meditating, reducing the amount of activity you do, and going to sleep early and waking later. Without enough energy saved, the growth of Spring will be stunted and full potential unreached.

With plenty of reserves, we find that we are more courageous and have strength of will. Without enough energy stored, however, the emotion of “fear” can excessively predominate. We do all need a certain amount of fear to make sure that we stay alive – for instance, being fearful of moving cars in case we get run over or pausing to consider whether to eat that sandwich you made a week ago! Where the Water energy is unbalanced, the type of fear felt would be that of not having enough and of not being prepared for the future.

There are some amazing acupuncture points (well, even more so than the other amazing acupuncture points) on the Water meridians, the Kidney and Bladder meridians, that can lift and regenerate your spirit, just when you have been completely exhausted by life and the will to hold onto it is weak. They can bring you back to a place where you feel safe and you can find the peace and strength to allow yourself to begin your healing.

Some signs of Water being out of balance could be:

  • lower back pain
  • knee pain or weakness
  • sexual problems
  • fatigue or shortness of breath
  • anxiety or excessive fear
  • inflexibility or resistance to change

A few things that you can do to work with the energy of Winter are:

  • sleeping early and rising late, at least no earlier than the sunrise
  • spend more time on your inner self such as meditation, reading literature that nourishes the soul, being still and more aware of yourself and your surroundings
  • include more “warming” foods in your diet such as whole grains, squashes, beans, peas, root vegetables and garlic
  • spend time with people who are close to you, deepening relationships in a quiet and relaxed manner

Gumenick, N. (1997). The Five Elements: Retrieved 12 June 2015, from

Franglen, N. (2006). Keepers of the soul: the five guardian elements of acupuncture, London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Jul 7

Winter Wonderfoods

Vegetable Soup
In Chinese Medicine, being in tune with nature is important in maintaining health and preventing illness, and a part of this is being able to change with the seasons. Throughout the year, we experience change from the heat of Summer to the dryness of Autumn, to the cold of Winter and the wind of Spring. Each season has particular characteristics and it is with these that we align ourselves.

Winter is a season of utmost Yin, Yin having qualities of the feminine, nurturing, quietness, inwardness and cold. This is a time for us to slow down and conserve energy, stay warm and be more aware and reflective. It helps us to prepare for and have the energy for Spring when growth and change occur.

Food plays a vital part in health maintainance so eating the appropriate foods for the season will keep you nourished.

The Kidney is the organ associated with Winter because it stores our basic and fundamental energy, which is an inward and nurturing function. Salty foods have an inward energy and support this storage function of the Kidney, so a little bit of sea salt and seaweed assists this vital organ. Take care not to have too much as it will then overwork the Kidney. Other foods which support the Kidney are:

  • kidney beans
  • black bean
  • chestnuts
  • walnut
  • lamb
  • chicken
  • dark leafy greens

Also, the types of foods that are more readily available in Winter are beneficial to eat and these include:

  • root vegetables
  • Winter greens such as cabbage, kale and silverbeet
  • nuts, legumes and grains
  • pumpkins
  • pears, apples and citrus fruits

Have these in warm hearty soups with vegetables and nourishing stocks, casseroles and stews because by cooking food for longer and at lower temperatures, the demand on your digestive system is lessened.

There are a lot of delicious and nourishing meals to be eaten in Winter. Be sure to share them with family and friends because though this is a time of introspection, connecting with family and friends will definitely keep you warmer in Winter!