Winter is one of the five seasons acknowledged by Traditional Chinese Medicine. The ancient Chinese followed the belief humans should live in harmony with the cycles of nature. During the winter months, darkness and cold indicate we should slow down, take care of our health, conserve our strength and replenish our energy for the upcoming spring and summer months.
Each season has multiple associations that help us adjust our habits as things change, which makes it easier to keep the body and mind balanced. Winter is ruled by the water element. The water element is associated with the kidneys and urinary bladder. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy, the kidneys are the source of all energy found within the body. This energy is what keeps us alive and allows our bodies to function properly. During the winter months, it’s vital we nourish and nurture our kidney energy.
Winter is typically a time when we decrease our daily activities. For many people, this coupled with longer hours of darkness, can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder. This form of depression occurs during the winter months. It can be very debilitating for those who suffer from it. But acupuncture can help. Studies show regular acupuncture treatments can be as effective as prescription medications for treating depression and seasonal affective disorder.
The most common ailment that occurs during the winter months is the cold. The cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, nose and throat. Because we’re not as active during the winter months, our immunity tends to be lowered and this is when the cold viruses can attack. While colds usually have to run their course, acupuncture can help shorten the length of the cold and drastically decrease the symptoms.
Over the past decade or so, the norovirus has become more prevalent during the winter months. This particular virus causes gastroenteritis or gastrointestinal tract disorders like diarrhea. During the initial few days of a norovirus attack, people need to stay home and hydrate themselves. But once the diarrhea becomes less frequent, acupuncture can be very helpful in decreasing the symptoms and boosting the person’s immunity.