“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
 -Albert Camus

Winter is upon us, announcing each day with its unpredictable song. This is the perfect time to reflect and rejuvenate. A time of beauty and quiet that can nudge your mental and physical walk through it all. If you choose to look within, you may discover the mystery hidden amongst this season’s core. Follow the simple guidelines of Classical Chinese Medicine and you may forge a winter path that just might turn into a surprising journey.

Ancient Quick Glance

Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) approaches winter like any other season, through the warranted manipulation of energy using modalities, tonics, acupuncture and other applications. It is through the recognition of how your energy connects to your surrounding energy so it can once again mesh as nature intended. This recognition can be found through physical and mental clues you possess along with the many seasonal constitutional changes occurring at the same time.

Some winter constitutions are described here in abbreviated passages taken from ancient writings of medical scholar Gao Lian (16th Century),

  • Hibernate – Heaven and earth shut down and go into a state of storage
  • Don’t Sweat – Be careful not to purge [sweat] the body’s skin layer otherwise harm to the kidney network will occur, and consequently the germinating forces of spring will be impaired
  • Immune Boost – In winter, the yang is submerged within. If somebody suffers from an ailment, it is advisable to dispel existing pathogens from the body
  • Go Bitter – Nourish heart qi by decreasing salty foods and increasing bitter ones
  • Nourish Yin – In winter, the earth’s yang qi resides within, while the yin qi is at the surface
  • Sun Salutation – Go to bed early, and get up only after the warming rays of the sun emerge
  • Botanical Medicine – In the evening take some herbs that eliminate internal heat

Don’t Let Winter Dictate Your Pain

The weather is a big factor when it comes to the amount of pain you may feel. Some can get through spring and summer without a problem but when fall and winter approach so do the aches. This can be particularly true for your joints. A study published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders stated that approximately 67.2% of patients suffering from chronic osteoarthritis concluded that changes in the season, temperature or humidity affected the intensity of their symptoms.

During the winter, acupuncture may help your joints perform more optimally. Researchers from the University of Virginia published combined findings from several studies in Family Community Health (July – September 2008) stating that,

“On the basis of the findings of the 10 randomized, controlled trials identified by this review, there is evidence that acupuncture is an effective treatment of pain and physical dysfunction associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.”

There is also evidence of acupuncture helping overall chronic pain which many report flaring up during the winter season. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine (10/22/12) which concluded,

“Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo.”

A weekly session of acupuncture could have you hopping, instead of hobbling, out of bed this winter season.

Two Flu-Free Remedies

If it’s a deep freeze location you live in, chances are during the winter you will be hiding indoors. When everyone is indoors so too is the petri-dish mix of bacterial and viral germs. Some people get the flu shot while others choose a natural, immune boosting path because of concern for being exposed to potential flu shot toxins for a random chance at it working.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

“More than 100 national influenza centers in over 100 countries conduct year-round surveillance for influenza. This involves receiving and testing thousands of influenza virus samples from patients.”

Given the enormous, well intentioned task of attempting to narrow down each flu season strain, the CDC continues,

“some years certain influenza viruses may not appear and spread until later in the influenza season, making it difficult to prepare a candidate vaccine virus in time for vaccine production. This can make vaccine virus selection very challenging.”

This winter, in addition to acupuncture relief for pain, try shoring up your system with some natural flu shots. These are two ancient, naturopathic formulas that may be all you need to kick your body into high defense mode this winter without possible side effects.

Lemon Flu Blast

These ingredients are so powerful they have been used as this formula throughout the ages. It is the zest, spice and sweetness that you can feel beginning to work as soon as you drink the first cup.

Juice of 6 fresh lemons
1 bulb of peeled garlic
2 tsp honey (raw if possible)
3 cups of pineapple juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Blend and refrigerate in a glass jar. Drink 1 cup 4 times per day until symptoms disappear. Note: You may break  and release the garlic through your skin and breath so try to stay away from close personal exchanges while taking this remedy.

The 3 Amigos

Using the powerful compounds of certain minerals and botanicals could increase your winter forcefield. This combo is known as the three amigos for an ability to work hand-in-hand with your body’s disease fighting furnace.

Colloidal Silver

Known for the ability to act as a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent, colloidal silver is believed to be so powerful it is able to kill AIDS virus cells on the spot.

A study published by the Journal of Nanobiotechnology (2010) concluded that,

“According to our results, this mode of antiviral action allows silver nanoparticles [colloidal silver] to inhibit HIV-1”


When your body is vulnerable to the barrage of airborne and topical germ particles on just about every surface, increasing your zinc intake compliments colloidal silver. Chances are you are low in zinc so taking a supplement could help fight off viral loads.

In a study by researchers from the Institute of Immunology and Molecular Biology, Berlin, Germany it was stated that,

“Zinc has been shown to mediate antiviral effects against certain viruses…The results of the study suggest that zinc salts do not interfere with TGEV-cell binding but that they mediate antiviral effects through inhibition of viral penetration or egress or the intracellular phase of the viral life-cycle.”

Black Elderberry

Able to act as a unique cellular defense system, black elderberry is the final ingredient in this trio. When consumed, this unassuming botanical scours your system looking for viral cells which are covered with “spikes” used to penetrate and takeover healthy cells. Compounds in elderberry are able to cover these spikes and render them useless making it an excellent anti-viral remedy for some.

Researchers at the Department of Virology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel published their work in The Journal of International Medical Research (2004) stating that,

“Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza.”

Take the three amigos remedy of colloidal silver, zinc and black elderberry in addition to the lemon flu blast and you may end up in a flu-free stratosphere no flu shot can touch.

Stay Savory for Kidney Jing

Eating specific foods during the winter season could work like additional natural medicinal remedies. CCM recommends working in combination with naturally prepared foods according to what the season has to offer. With kidney being one of the major winter yin organs (the yang organ for winter is bladder) it is therefore essential to consume kidney strengthening foods. Yang is asleep during winter so it is best to wake it with spring season foods.

Kidney enhancing recipes often are the savory ones that include lightly salted flavors with a pinch of bitters as these correlate with winter. Eating in conjunction with CCM seasonal winter foods such as roots and dark greens makes for the opportunity to strengthen your kidney life force called ‘Jing’.

Mushroom Noodles

1 8-ounce package of mugwort or other soba noodles
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
8 ounces fresh maitake or shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root
2 teaspoons tamari
Chopped scallions for garnish (optional

Prepare the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and shock with cold water to stop cooking. Set aside. Warm the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shallot and garlic, and cook 1 minute Add mushrooms, and cook 8-10 minutes, until mushrooms begin to brown slightly. Add ginger and tamari, and cook until the tamari evaporates. Add soba to the mushrooms and toss quickly. Serve. (source: about-food)

For a not so sweet, rib sticking, kidney nourishing dessert this recipe is believed to affect the gate of life, the center of yin/yang connection.

Warming the Gate of Life

3 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 cup (vanilla or plain) rice milk
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
9 chestnuts (chopped or mashed)
Place all ingredients in pan and heat and serve.

Heat and mix all ingredients in a pan and serve.
(source: Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder)

News and Noteworthy

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

Avocado MUFA for AMD

It is recommended that eating more monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) may help prevent eye disease such as age related macular degeneration (AMD).

As published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition,

“Research from the Women’s Health Initiative Observation Study found that MUFA [monounsaturated fatty acids] rich diets were protective of age-related eye dysfunction. Avocados may contribute to eye health since they contain a combination of MUFA and lutein/zeaxanthin and help improve carotenoid absorption from other fruits and vegetables. Avocados contain 185 [micrograms] of lutein/zeaxanthin per one-half fruit, which is expected to be more highly bioavailable than most other fruit and vegetable sources.”

Naturopathic Medicine Treats Diabetes

The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) reported in November how diabetes could be successfully treated by naturopathic medicine. Dr. Turshá Hamilton, a naturopathic clinician at the National University of Health Sciences Whole Health Center commented,

“One of the major reasons naturopathic doctors can be a great asset to diabetes care is because we take the time needed to actually connect with the patient, educate the patient, and help them to take a greater control over their own health,”

Dr. Ellen Wong, an associate professor and clinic supervisor at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine added,

“Diabetes care is not just about regulating [glycosylated] hemoglobin levels. Without doubt, glycosylated hemoglobin is an appropriate biomarker of diabetes care, but diabetes care is complex as there are various co-morbidities and diabetes itself is a risk factor for various conditions,”

Dr. Wong continued,

“To appropriately manage diabetes, the following should be discussed: dietary and exercise recommendations, appropriate use of pharmaceutical and/or natural health products, frequency of self-monitored blood glucose checks, appropriate frequency of laboratory evaluations, and physical examinations,”

This winter take the offensive before you are peddling backwards in the defensive. Following ancient advice, utilizing acupuncture, herbal remedies, seasonal eating and gentle exercise can all work in your favor to enable you to recharge and reboot right into spring.

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.

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