“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Henry David Thoreau

Stop and feel your winter solstice. A time when daylight is cut short and night is at its longest. It is as if Nature is asking that you sit down and close your eyes (alongside her) to look within.

Many cultures, from ancient Chinese to Native Americans incorporated the full spectrum of each season into daily life. Working in unison with nature, these cultures were able to maintain good health by eating seasonal foods and following the cues each solstice and equinox offered.

As winter slows down Mother Nature, you too can stop and feel your winter solstice. Then, continue into the season opening a pleasantly dark, slow, inward energy reflection meditating amongst your winter wonderland under a warm blanket.

Pen to Paper Release

As the energy around you changes, regardless of your writing ability, try putting pen to paper to transcribe whatever comes to mind.

Let any words or images find themselves a home on a blank sheet in any form that emerges and let it be. There are no rules here except it must be an actual pen or pencil writing on paper. This is essential as the physical, tangible act of writing requires no extra thought process that using a keyboard would. Don’t judge it, don’t edit it, just write it down and simply walk away. You can read it later, however, it is more important to get out any emotional residue that may be at the surface level of your conscious or lurking deep in your subconscious, waiting to be released.

This is an exercise of free association, originally devised by the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. This practice; once, twice or more a day is perfect for the constitution of winter and the encouragement this season offers for you to rebalance, recharge and revitalize.

According to James Pennebaker, PhD, of the University of Texas at Austin,

“the enlightenment that can occur through such writing compares with the benefits of verbal guided exploration in psychodynamic psychotherapies…The curative mechanism appears to be relief of the stress that exacerbates disease, researchers believe.” – American Psychological Association (APA).

Purge yourself of inner stress by keeping a free association journal for each season starting with this winter season.

Acupuncture for Winter Organs

Transitioning into each season is much smoother when acupuncture is applied. During the winter season acupuncture opens associated organ pathways needed such as the bladder, bones, and kidneys. With winter being a yin season it is dominated by the kidneys and when there is any weakness here it can make you vulnerable to physical and/or mental adversity.

Some people have difficulty breaking down excess uric acid which is then stored in skeletal joints or the kidney itself. Once embedded the uric acid can crystalize, expand and cause severe pain. New research shows how applying acupuncture and herbs to a diagnosis of kidney stones could expel them more rapidly.

As reported by Healthcare Medicine Institute (HMI), a study by researchers at the Jiangxi Jiujiang Hospital in China stated that,

“While effective, the downside of the medication is that it is slow to act, with many adverse effects, higher medical costs and even drug dependence. By comparison, acupuncture is instant, sustainable, green, and convenient. The research team concludes that acupuncture significantly increases the positive patient outcome rates”

Acupuncture has also been found to assist in alleviating urinary incontinence. The bladder is the winter yang organ so if there is a challenge such as incontinence or excessive flow acupuncture may help balance this essential player. The bladder is associated with the winter element: water.

HMI reports on research published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) entitled ‘Effect of Electroacupuncture on Urinary Leakage Among Women With Stress Urinary Incontinence’. It was shown that, “Electroacupuncture in the lumbar region [was] effective for the alleviation of stress urinary incontinence.”

Symptoms that may be linked to a water imbalance include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Knee pain
  • Urinary problems
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing trouble
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Anxiety and fear
  • High blood pressure
  • Back of head headaches
  • Inflexibility and resistance to change
  • Sexual challenges (lack of excitement, premature ejaculation, vaginal dryness)

Incorporate acupuncture into your winter health routine. Make it as important as going to the gym by visiting at least once a week to keep your kidneys and bladder at optimal yin/yang performance.

Power Eating

There is no need to succumb to the many gustatory manipulations that surround you on a daily basis. Attempt to see through the corporate consumer diet advertising and instead, feed your winter Yule Log by power eating warming foods that include:

  • Walnut
  • Legumes
  • Miso and seaweed
  • Apples, pears, citrus fruit
  • Root sourced soups and stews
  • Garlic and ginger and cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon
  • Root vegetables, squashes, winter greens, mushrooms

Here are three winter recipes for strengthening your overall constitution with one being a twist on a conventional mainstream classic.

Kidney Bean, Tomato & Winter Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter (or soy butter)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic (cut in half)
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped parsnip
  • ½ cup chopped yam
  • 14 ounces plum tomatoes
  • Pinch of rosemary
  • 3 slices of ginger
  • 2 small dried hot red peppers (or to personal taste)
  • 1 15-ounce can of kidney beans
  • 5 cups of water
  • 3 cups of butternut squash, diced into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.

*Add a few slices of raw astragulus root to this or any soup to give you a little extra energy and immune boost.

Directions:

Heat the butter in a saucepan, wok, or dutch oven and add the onion. Cook until it is just softened. Add the garlic, parsnip, yam and cook for about 3 minutes over medium heat.

Add the tomatoes, rosemary, ginger, peppers, beans, and water. Bring to a soft boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for about 1/2 hour. Stir occasionally.

Add squash and simmer for about one hour until squash is tender. Check liquid levels, add water if necessary, and don’t forget to stir occasionally.

Add salt and ground pepper. Adjust seasonings to personal taste.
Garnish each bowl with a sprig of cilantro or parsley.

*Recipe courtesy of The Epoch Times

Black Olive Zucchini Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, dried
  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic (1 tsp minced garlic)
  • Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 Tblsp.
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tblsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped.
  • paprika powder as desired

Directions:

Process sunflower seeds into a powder. Set aside. Process zucchini, garlic, lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil and tahini until smooth. Slowly add sunflower powder back into food processor. Process until mixture reaches smooth hummus consistency.

Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in chopped olives. Sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with remaining olive oil.

Will keep in fridge for 3 days. Serves four.

*Recipe courtesy of Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen recipe book by Ani Phyo

Walnut Butter and Honey with a Glass of Cold Almond Milk

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a tall glass of whole milk may bring back childhood memories but today this sandwich is wrought with unhealthy fats, oils and sugars.

Instead, reach for classic texture with a winter season twist. Walnut butter on sprouted bread drizzled with raw local honey and washed down with cold almond milk makes for the perfect winter recipe combination with little fuss and optimal output.

Effective Cold and Flu Fighters

You are certainly aware by now how conventional medicine touts the importance of utilizing its attempt at ‘throwing a dart at predicted flu strains’ which may occur during the winter season with a universal flu shot.

As essential as this may be there are other ways you can protect beyond simply receiving a flu shot. The more your body’s terrain is strengthened, the more chances you will have to stave off compromising pathogens you may come in contact with especially when most are huddled indoors during inclement weather.

Probiotics

When your intestinal health is compromised, your immune system can struggle as well. Your gastrointestinal tract is a veritable furnace of good and bad bacteria that work in unison to maintain optimal health. Probiotics can assure that this “furnace” preserves the colony forming units (CFU’s) needed to protect the body from viral and bacterial interlopers. Note: If you suffer with any immune disorder probiotics may be contraindicated.

Probiotics may be especially advantageous for children during cold and flu season.

A study, published in Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease found that young children taking a supplement containing strains of healthy bacteria (probiotics) got sick less often than children who were not taking the supplement.

NAC (N-acetyl L-cysteine)

NAC (N-acetyl L-cysteine) is a potent antioxidant amino acid derived from the amino acid L-cysteine which has been linked to preventing flu compromise.

Researchers at the Institute of Medical Virology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt, reported in Biochemical Pharmacology that,

“The antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) had been shown to inhibit replication of seasonal human influenza A viruses…NAC inhibits H5N1 [flu strain] replication and H5N1-induced production of pro-inflammatory molecules. Therefore, antioxidants like NAC represent a potential additional treatment option that could be considered in the case of an influenza A virus pandemic.”

Olive Leaf Extract

The unassuming olive leaf could be a big player when it comes to protecting yourself against bacterial and viral flu pathogens. The phytonutrients oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, caffeic acid and verbascoside all found in olive leaf extract work together to form a natural pathogen fighting strain.

Italian researchers published the study, ‘Effects of the Olive-Derived Polyphenol Oleuropein on Human Health’ in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences stating,

“Oleuropein also possesses a well-documented antiviral activity. Its efficacy against hemorrhagic septicemia rhabdovirus (VHSV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was demonstrated.”

News and Noteworthy

A few notable mentions that have currently come to light in the world of naturopathic medicine include:

Cinnamon Supports Metabolism

Your other ‘health furnace’ is your metabolism, the ability for your body to maintain enough energy to keep overall functions running on point. Metabolism is especially effective when it comes to weight control.

As reported by NDNR (Naturopathic Doctor News & Review),

“Recent research has found that cinnamaldehyde, a constituent in cinnamon, is able to aid in the burning of fat in humans…The researchers concluded that the essential oil of cinnamon is able to activate thermogenesis, meaning that it increases metabolism in the body to burn fat and create heat. The cinnamon essential oil was found to enhance certain genes in the adipocytes (fat cells) leading to increased breakdown of fat. In addition to this metabolic effect, cinnamaldehyde is also thought to be a COX inhibitor which can help decrease inflammation.”

Virtual Reality Assists Dementia

Virtual Reality (VR) is sweeping the gaming industry and now it has been applied to more healing modalities, including dementia, as well.

The outer body experience of VR enables those with Alzheimer’s, dementia and even anxiety to experience powerful memories via visual stimulation able to trigger positive reinforcement. After a VR experience, dementia patients reported mood enhancement, increased social interaction and less physical pain. All this, without medication.

‘What the Health’ Must See

A recent documentary called ‘What the Health’ is significantly changing lives for the better. It describes the cyclical path so many people have fallen onto which has practically enslaved their health resulting in diabetes and other life threatening conditions.

The documentary exposes how the agricultural industry works hand-in-hand with Big Pharma to make people sick and keep them sick. It encourages a plant based diet chock full of reputable, scientific studies and prominent professional opinions along with real life disease reversing success stories. A definite must-see!

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 contact us here.

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