01 August 2007

Winter warming

With the cold winter weather, it’s important to keep yourself warm, from the inside out.  By taking care of yourself in the winter time, you are protecting your energy for the rest of the year.

Winter is associated with the Water element in Chinese medicine.  The organs of the Water element are Bladder and Kidneys. 

The Kidneys are very important organs as they store the “Vital Essence”, which is produced in utero and cannot be replenished.  Essence is needed to sustain life, produce Blood and restore damage to the body.  By living a moderate lifestyle and protecting our health, we use up less Essence than if we overdo it.

The Kidneys are also the root of the Yin and Yang of the body.  Signs of Kidney weakness include sore lower back and/or knees, tinnitus, hearing difficulty and urogenital symptoms. In women, Kidney imbalance can lead to infertility.

Chinese people always wear plenty of layers to keep their lower backs warm, as the lower back is the “residence” of the Kidneys.  Never allow a gap in your clothing to let in cold air as this will tax the Kidney’s energy.  Tuck in under-layers and make sure you always have a jacket to wear outside.  If you do expose your lower back to the cold, then place a heat pack or hot water bottle on the area as soon as you get home.

You can also investigate traditional Chinese qi-protecting exercises such as Taiji (Tai Chi) or Qi Gong (Chi Kung).  These exercise systems were designed by Taoist practitioners who wished to increase longevity.  By practising Taiji or Qi Gong, you will feel relaxed and revitalised and you will also benefit your Kidney’s energy and protect your Vital Essence.

Winter is the time for eating hearty stews, baked root vegetables and warming teas.  Foods with warming properties include most meats (especially lamb), black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, onion family, wine (in cooking), chestnuts and capsicum.

Chai tea
Chai tea uses hot-natured spices and is a great warming drink for winter.

2 Teaspoons English breakfast tea
1 Cinnamon stick
3 Cardamom pods
2 Cloves
1 Teaspoon sugar or honey
2 Cloves of black pepper
1 Bay leaf
400mls whole fat milk, rice milk or organic soy milk*

Put English tea into a small saucepan. Break up the cinnamon stick, bruise the cardamom pods and add to the saucepan along with the cloves, sugar, pepper and bay leaf. Add the milk.
Boil and reduce down to thick syrup, reducing the liquid by half (being careful not to let the milk catch on the bottom of the saucepan).  Strain.

You should end up with thick aromatic syrup a similar consistency to condensed milk.

* Organic soy milk uses the whole bean and avoids genetically modified products

This post is brought to you by Lois Nethery, Acupuncturist at Ocean Acupuncture in Curl Curl.

Ocean Acupuncture is a natural medicine centre of independent health practitioners. The views expressed in this blog are the author's only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the other Ocean Acupuncture practitioners.
The information presented in this blog, and on the Ocean Acupuncture website, is for interest and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for health or medical information or advice. For health or medical advice, please consult your health professional.

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