Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.” – John Boswell

Winter Rebooting and HealingWinter is here and you are welcome to embrace all that strengthens, reboots and heals or hide your head in the snow and wish for the best.

As each seasonal transition presents itself, there are numerous opportunities to take advantage of. These opportunities not only prepare your mind and body for the next seasonal transition but it also allows you to look within and determine your current constitutional status.

Learn to use naturopathic tools such as acupuncture, nutraceutical supplementation, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine and detoxification. Doing so just may enhance your continued optimal health mission or have you start a journey of self-healing, preservation and joy.

Surrender

So many of us burn the candle at both ends and before we know it we are like fish out of water gulping for air.

Winter is a time to surrender to the deep stillness of nature. When there is stillness, there is an inner voice that can finally arise and listening to it just may offer some valuable lessons. This is a voice that may be your true subconsciousness. It offers clues on how to embrace what you really yearn for rather than a mercurial ego that can steer you astray into fearful thoughts.

However, being able to tap into such a voice takes some meditative commitment and the winter season is the perfect time to do so.

The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (the Neijing Suwen) states,

“During the Winter months all things in nature wither, hide, return home, and enter a resting period, just as lakes and rives freeze and snow falls. This is a time when yin dominates yang. Therefore one should refrain from overusing the yang energy. Retire early and get up with the sunrise, which is later in Winter. Desires and mental activity should be kept quiet and subdued, as if keeping a happy secret. Stay warm, avoid the cold, and keep the skin covered. Avoid sweating. The theory of the Winter season is one of conservation and storage. Without such practice the result will be injury to the Kidney energy. This will cause weakness, shrinking of muscles, and coldness; then the body loses its ability to open and move about in the Spring.”

The yin reserves are the deep stores of calming energy that go hand-in-hand with water, winter’s essential element. Water is the ever changing shape that flows unencumbered through all of life’s journey’s so when this element is impeded, so too is the power of yin.

Try these simple steps to begin surrendering to the stillness of winter and see if you can’t embrace your inner voice.

  • Pick a spot – Choose a location where there are no outside disturbances. Sometimes, even sitting in your car in an empty lot surrounded by nature can do the trick.
  • Release – Once in your spot, do a mental body check. Unclench your hands, drop your shoulders, uncross your legs, place your soles on the ground, release your gluteus (butt) muscles and let your face, (jaw, cheeks, eyes) drop.
  • Breathe – Now it is time to breathe. Slow, deep breathes in your nose and out your mouth with your eyes closed.
  • Sound – The sound of winter is a groan so as you breathe out, release a deep “uhhhhhhhh”.

This meditation can go on as long as you like. Your goal is to attempt to get yourself into a state where your ego voice stops nagging you about work, family, money, etc. and your deeper, truer voice emerges. Once this happens, it is up to you to listen and learn. Good luck!

Let it Flow

Allowing your inner voice to rise to the surface during winter’s stillness can work peripherally with the healing power of acupuncture. In fact, you could combine both during an acupuncture session which requires you to sit still for thirty to forty-five minutes or so.

The intention of acupuncture, particularly during seasonal transitions such as fall into winter, is to release energy or help it continue to flow. It is easy for this energy to become stagnant, especially during the sedative effects of winter or the lingering physical/emotional challenges crossed over from season to season. According to Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM), stuck energy can inevitable present as various health challenges, conditions or even diseases.

These 5 acupuncture points are optimal for a winter “tune-up” which, in-between sessions, can also be worked as acupressure points at home.

  • Stomach 36 (ST 36) – Located about three inches below the outer (lateral) knee and one inch to the side of the shin, ST36 may increase energy, lower blood pressure, boost immunity and treat digestive issues.
  • Large Intestine (LI 4) – Some refer to this point as the “Great Eliminator” or simply, “The Headache Point”. It sits in the thick web between the index finger and thumb, used to treat headaches, toothaches, arthritis and stress.
  • Liver 3 (LV 3) – Top of the foot about an inch below the first joint of the big toe. This point can work in unison with LI 4 to “open the gates” of the body’s energy. This combination has been linked to treating stress related migraines, acid reflux and challenged digestion.
  • Spleen 6 (SP 6) – About three inches above the inner (medial) leg, SP 6 is a multi-use point. It improves energy, strengthens digestion, assists restful sleep, nourishes the blood, reduces worry, and enhances overall health.
  • Yintang – This third eye point sits between the eyes almost acting like an invisible antenna. It is also known as the specialty point, Yintang which is filled with energy that when manipulated can produce overall relaxation.

Fuel that Feeds Your Chee (Qi)

Seasonal eating is essential to maintaining your optimal life force and during the winter months, as you hibernate and reflect, choosing the proper fuel can be highly beneficial. Alkalizing and locally sourced root vegetable stews and soups are a great way to harness your winter energy within. These are warming tools to encourage your body to slow down and recharge.

Winter Roots Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs of coconut oil
  • Onion
  • Root vegetables (radish, carrots, turnips, celery root, jerusalem artichokes, etc.)
  • Salt
  • Turmeric
  • Sage leaves
  • Thyme
  • Curry powder (optional)

Preparation:

1) Heat coconut oil while slicing onions. Fry onion slices with oil in a pot until onion turn translucent.

2) Add diced (and peeled) vegetables into the pot and add water until most content is covered. Heat under medium-high setting until all vegetables are tender (20~30 minutes).

3) Puree half to 3/4 of the heated stew with a high-speed blender, then add the blended mix back into the pot. (THIS STEP IS OPTIONAL)

4) Add the remaining (spices and salt) into the pot. Spices amount varies depend on volume of stew. Heat the stew at a low setting for another 15 minutes (or until vegetables are soft and mushy enough if stew was not partly pureed as step 3 mentioned)
(recipe courtesy of Source Centre)

Winter Warming Sesame Candy

Sometimes, maintaining winter energy on the run can be found in some natural, quick, slightly sweet snacks that boost your energy and your constitution. One favorite is black sesame seeds which are believed to moisten skin, improve digestion, brighten eyes and even prevent gray hair. Try your hand at making some winter warming sesame candy which you can pack in your bag and nosh on when your day starts to close in. Choose all or some of these spices to suit your personal taste.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups black sesame seeds (about 12 oz)
  • ½ – ¾ cup honey
  • ¼ – ½ cup malt sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • pinch of ground fennel
  • pinch of ground cloves

Preparation:

1) In an ungreased 10-inch skillet, stir the sesame seeds over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, until they are lightly browned, popping and aromatic. Transfer hot seeds to a bowl and set aside.

2) Mix the honey, sugar and spices well in the warm skillet. Slowly bring the honey mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the entire mixture comes to a full rolling boil, cook it vigorously for exactly 2 minutes.

3) Remove the skillet from the heat and immediately stir in the sesame seeds.

4) Quickly turn the hot mixture into a lightly greased 9″ square baking pan. Press the candy into a smooth layer with a metal spatula dipped in cold water.

5) Cool the candy in the pan for l5 minutes, or until it is solid but still warm.

6) Run a spatula around the edge of the candy to loosen it. Flip the whole slab of candy onto wooden board or other cutting surface.

7) Use a sharp knife to cut the large square of warm candy into small pieces.

8) Cool the candies completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.
(recipe courtesy of Chinese Medicine Doc)

Winter Survivor’s Tips
Winter Survivors Tips
Getting through the winter onslaught of not only a deep freeze but the threat of so many indoor germs can take its toll if you’re not too careful. Keep these winter survivor’s tips on hand as a reminder of how to stay out of harm’s way as best you can.

  • Cover Your Wind Point – In CCM it is believed that the area behind your neck possesses a vulnerable “Wind Point” which, if left exposed, can sit prey to outside pathogens. Wear a scarf!
  • Slumber – Sleep is an underrated essential health tool. When you do not get enough you are missing out on some powerful healing opportunities. Rethink your schedule and your bedroom vibe and readjust accordingly so you can get the longest (7-8 hours at least) winter sleeps possible.
  • Take the D – Vitamin D absorption is at record lows amongst just about everyone. Supplement daily with this important vitamin that has been linked to boosting immune function and preventing potentially debilitating winter colds and flus. (talk to your naturopathic doctor about the best dosage for you)
  • Zinc – This mineral is another illness eliminator as the immune system relies on it to run on all cylinders. About 15-30 mg per day with food (may upset an empty stomach) should be enough to kick your immune system up a notch.
  • Good Bugs – A daily probiotic is also an excellent way to rev up your immune system. Taken on an empty stomach, probiotics are chock full of good gut bacteria that keep your bad gut bacteria in check.

News and Noteworthy

It’s always good to walk into winter with some hopeful info. Here are a few news and noteworthy happenings in the world that may raise your spirits beyond the usual news fodder out there.

  • Alzheimer’s Non-Invasive Research – PubMed Health reports on a potential Alzheimer’s treatment citing, “New research found high-energy sound waves helped remove abnormal clumps of proteins from the brains of mice, and also improved their memory.” This is good news for the future of tackling this debilitating disease.
  • PRP – Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is a new treatment that is showing promise in healing low vascular injuries such as a torn tendon or ligament. Platelets are removed from the blood and directly injected into the injury site.
  • Acupuncture helps Parkinson’s Sufferers – A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (10/30/15) showed how acupuncture improved gait function of Parkinson’s sufferers citing that, “The researchers observed significant increases in gait speed, step length, floor reaction force, and cadence after acupuncture.”

This winter, don’t cower from the frigid fallout but rather embrace the opportunity to hibernate and rejuvenate your body, mind and life energy. At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you. In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health.  To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or CLICK HERE to schedule an online appointment.

*Please CLICK HERE to see a current list of Insurance Companies that commonly carry acupuncture benefits for its members. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email info@intmedsolutions.com to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.