Winter Notes // Portland Apothecary // Seasonal Medicine
In these notes you will learn some basics about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the wisdom it offers for staying healthy and balanced. The products and remedies we have created for the Winter Share support the natural cycles of the seasons and will help you feel grounded and connected
throughout those transitions.
Winter is upon us. The sun now journeys low across the sky and the days are short. Plant life retreats beneath the soil and lies dormant, nature is at rest. Animals are less active and some will even hibernate. The season brings us crisp, cold mornings with sparkling frost and dark starry nights. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Winter season is considered the time of ultimate Yin. Yin is associated with the feminine, the moon and
the qualities of inwardness, darkness, cold, rest and nourishment. In contrast is Yang, which is direct, focused, outgoing, hot and masculine (Summer is the time of ultimate Yang). In TCM, wellness is achieved through learning to balance both Yin and Yang.
Winter is a time to slow down, nourish oneself and go inward. If you embrace the increasingly dark days as a way to restore, replenish and renew yourself, when spring arrives you will be rewarded with a burst of healthy growth and energy. In Winter we
need to sleep more and seek out experiences that connect us to our deeper self. In TCM, the sense of hearing predominates now and this includes inner listening. Take time to remember and write down your dreams, this can be a powerful time to learn more about
yourself through what your dreams reveal. While we have just celebrated Winter Solstice and the slow return of the sun with its light and warmth, there is stillness to this season that allows time for the deep beauty of true introspection.
The organs associated with Winter are the Kidneys, Urinary Bladder and Adrenals. If we resist this inward time of Yin tendencies, we will become stressed out and face potential burn out and fatigue. Your Kidneys represent your internal fire, your core energy, and it is time to pay attention to what stokes your fire and what dampens it on both an energetic and physical level.
We have created this Winter Share to support you in slowing down to experience the magic of time with friends and the heart lifting moments of nature changing it’s tenor. Here are a few pieces of advice you may want to turn to from time to time to make this Winter an easy transition:
>>> Adjust Your Diet: Winter is a time to eat warming slow cooked foods. Use a slow cooker to make nourishing soups from beans and grains. Slow roast root vegetables with rosemary and garlic. Add warming spices to your recipes such as ginger, garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric and clove. These spices will help increase your circulation in the months where some of us have decreased our physical activities. Foods that are naturally salty like seaweed, miso, barley and millet are also appropriate at this time of year. Salty is the flavor of Winter. Bitter is also associated with Winter due to the close relationship between the Kidneys and the Heart. Bitter foods include, greens, rye, oats, citrus peels, chicory root and burdock root. Winter is a time for over indulgence in foods high in calories, fats and sugar, and bitter flavors will help to speed up your gastric response, you’ll find some Bitters in your Share, so please do take a few drops before you begin your feasting!
>>>Meditate: Take quiet time for yourself this Yin season. It can be hard for some of us to go inward but even just 10 minutes a day gives the benefit of feeling calm, centered and in touch with yourself. In TCM, indigo or a rich blue black is the color associated with winter. You can meditate on indigo by focusing on the night sky filled with stars, infinite in its greatness. Or inwardly picture the depths of the ocean filled with mystery and potential. Create your own images around this color or follow another meditation practice.
>>> Let The Light In: This could mean so many things. Where do you find light? Is it in laughing with friends? Listening to music? Learning a new skill? Winter can be a dismal time, especially in places where the days are endlessly grey. Hibernation and retreat are necessary and strengthening, but you have to pay attention to where the balance is. Winter is also a time where we get to create our own light. It can be literal like popping in some full spectrum bulbs, turning on a happy lamp next to your favorite chair or stringing up some fairy lights around the house. Invite loved ones over for a meal- ighting some candles, and sharing stories is a wonderful way to connect. Entering a home full of laughter over a shared meal with warm lights will help to not let the grey days bring you too far into the kind of darkness that doesn’t serve you. The emotion of the Winter season in TCM is fear, and while darkness and fear are commonly associated, with balance you may find that both the light and dark times can be healthy.
>>>Hydrate: The Kidneys and Urinary Bladder are the focus of Winter and they are both associated with water. Take this literally to keep your system flowing! It’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the colder months, but remember the artificial heat indoors is drying you out and if you are having a little extra to drink at holiday functions of hitting the coffee a little harder to combat darker days you will become dehydrated. Keep some water near you as you work or while you watch a movie, etc so it is an easy thing to remember.
>>>Keep Warm: To avoid colds and flus that are prevalent this time of year don’t forget to dress warmly including keeping the back of your neck covered. Like we talked about in our Autumn Notes the back of the neck has many acupuncture points associated with wind. The belief is that if these points are left exposed to the wind you will easily catch a cold or flu. It is also a great time to continue taking Elderberry Elixir which is rich in immune support. We make a wonderful version that is available in our shop. Also please do stay home if you are feeling sick, it will treat you and the people around you, to a healthier Winter.
>>>Moxibustion: Visit your community acupuncturist and ask them about receiving moxibustion with your treatment. Moxa is essentially mugwort compressed into a long stick that is then ignited and held on various acupuncture points on the body. It is an amazing tool and when held over your belly can bring about warmth quickly as well as restore your energy reserves.
>>> Keep It Simple: Our culture lends itself towards excess this time of year. Pare down! Whether it’s piling a plate too high, or stuffing too many bags with purchases, try and resist. It’s easy to lose control of ourselves with so much momentum in the air. If you can step back for a minute, you’ll be better for it.
Associations with Winter in Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Element: Water Organs: Kidneys, Urinary Bladder, Adrenals
Direction: North Color: Black, Indigo Blue
Flavor: Salty Emotion: Fear
Number: Six Sense: Hearing