The chilly embrace of winter has settled in and the longest night of the year has come again. While our bodies often react with various ailments and discomforts throughout the winter months, it may be comforting to know that each day following the Winter Solstice the sun will set later and later each day! Until those warmer days arrive, we encourage you to explore these ancient remedies to help you stay healthy and balanced during the winter season. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offers a treasure trove of herbs and practices to alleviate and prevent winter-related health issues like dry skin, coughs, and joint pains.
Winter's dry, cold air can wreak havoc on the skin, causing it to become dry, itchy, and even painful cracks on the lips. TCM emphasizes internal balance to address external manifestations, so when you’re ready to stop reapplying the moisturizer or lip balm, try incorporating some of these Chinese herbs to your daily routine. Many of the herbal formulations your ORA Acupuncturist may recommend include these specific herbs, but of course there are a multitude of others that may be better suited for your symptoms.
- Goji Berries (Gou Qi Zi): These bright red berries are revered in TCM for their ability to nourish the skin from within and brighten the eyes. Rich in antioxidants, goji berries are known to enhance skin health by promoting hydration and reducing inflammation.
- Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica Root): Often used in TCM formulations to enrich the blood, Dang Gui can help improve circulation, benefiting skin health and reducing dryness.
- Bai Shao (White Peony Root): Known for its ability to soothe irritations, Bai Shao helps in maintaining skin moisture and reducing inflammation.
Another common complaint we’ve likely all experienced in the colder months is a persistent cough, even when you might not be feeling sick. This can stem from various factors like dry air or cold wind, weakening immunity and Wei Qi, the protective layer that keeps us from being infected by external pathogens. TCM aims to address the root cause of the cough by bolstering the body's defenses, soothing the respiratory system, and strengthening the immune system.
- Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa (Loquat Syrup), a popular TCM remedy for coughs, which contains herbs like loquat leaf, fritillary bulb, and honey, helps soothe sore throats and suppress coughs.
- Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria Bulb): Renowned for its ability to moisten the lungs and dissolve phlegm, Chuan Bei Mu is commonly used to alleviate coughs and respiratory discomfort. Or try steaming an asian pear with chuan bei mu and Feng mi ( honey), eat the entire pear + drink the juice to help moisten the lungs and help with a dry cough.
It’s also important to protect your organs with proper winter garments. This may seem obvious, but don’t let fashion choices lead to a relentless cough! Wearing a jacket that covers the pelvic region, can help protect your kidneys which are the organ system associated with winter according to TCM so it’s especially important to protect and nourish them during this time. Wearing a scarf to cover your chest and the back of your neck can help protect your Wei Qi.
If you’ve ever noticed joint pain worsening in the winter, you’re not alone. Cold weather often exacerbates joint pains due to changes in barometric pressure and poor blood circulation. TCM focuses on restoring balance and harmony in the body's energy flow to relieve such discomforts. Acupuncture can be a great tool to manage joint pain at any time, but especially during winter. By stimulating specific points, acupuncture clears stagnant Qi and improves blood flow to help alleviate the pain. Applying warm herbal compresses or ingesting herbs through herbal tea, can help improve circulation and reduce pain as well. Herbs such ginger and cinnamon are anti-inflammatory and can help increase range of motion, making everyday activities easier to manage. Starting your day with herbal tea can not only create a meditative practice, but also be a perfect and simple way to add more herbs to your daily routine. The ORA Herbal Tea Collection includes an assortment of 5 different flavors, each packed with nourishing herbs. Our go-to during this season is Your Best Defense, which helps strengthen your immunity to keep your body prepared for every encounter. Another team favorite this time of year is Yin Chiao, as it helps support a healthy respiratory and immune system to help prevent a full on set illness.
Incorporating these TCM herbs and practices into your winter routine can help you navigate the season with improved wellness. Remember, TCM views health as a holistic balance between the mind, body, and environment. By embracing these remedies, you're not just treating the symptoms but nurturing your overall well-being towards harmony with the season. Speak with your acupuncturist during your next visit to determine which herbs and at home remedies are recommended for your specific needs.