In the five phases or elements Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood, the element that corresponds to winter is Water. In nature winter is the season of hibernation; it’s just not for the animals, us humans should take a hint and follow suit in the sense of slowing down, conserving energy, and refuelling.
In nature, the energy (qi) descends and goes inwards in the atmosphere. The qi is very deep in the Healthy Body and is conserving itself due to the lower amount of energy in the atmosphere. The Water element in Chinese medicine is linked with the Kidneys and Bladder. The Kidneys are spoken of a lot in Chinese medicine because of their importance; the energy we are born with (pre-natal qi inherited from our parents) is our kidney essence that acts as a reserve. This essence declines as we age or overtax the Healthy Body.
The kidneys rule the ears, bones, teeth, head hair, lower Healthy Body, brain, nervous system, will power, genito-urinary system. The taste associated with the kidneys is salty, and the colours black, and the emotion fear. It is important to nourish the kidneys during the winter months. It is time to slow down and nourish the Healthy Body.
Supporting the Kidneys during Wintertime:
- Blue-black foods, such as eggplant, black sesame seeds, black beans.
- Go to bed earlier, around 9 pm or so
- Exercise moderately, don’t push it too hard in the winter
- Relax more, rest
- Gentle relaxing activities
- Keep the feet covered, the Kidney channel starts on the sole of the foot, wear socks or slippers.
- Hot water bottle or heat pack to the low back. The kidneys require warmth in the winter and are traditionally considered to be sensitive to cold.
Rub the acupressure point Kidney 1 (Chinese: Yongquan, English translation: Gushing Spring) on the sole of your feet. Located in the exact centre of each foot. Massage with your thumb or gold/tennis ball, or really anything you have on hand that will work. This helps to ground the Healthy Body and clear the head of excess thinking with a calming effect.
Foods to support the kidneys: black-blue foods, seafood, hearty soups, bone broth, miso soup, seaweed, beans, berries, walnuts, figs, anchovies, bay leaves, chicken, coriander, fennel, leek, pine nuts, sweet potatoes, kidney beans, millet, parsnip, turnip, sesame seeds.
Eat Less: raw foods, smoothies, sour, pungent (spicy).
Best cooking methods for winter: slowly, crockpot, baking, stews, soups, roasting.
Signs of Balance: strong bones and teeth, healthy hearing, healthy libido, energized, vitality,
Signs of imbalance: SAD (seasonal affective disorder), depression, low back pain, burning it at both ends, no will power/ no ‘get up and go’, fatigue, dark under-eye circles, frozen/ rigidity in in your ways, fear beliefs, low libido, frequent urination, teeth issues, joint aches and pains, irregular periods, night sweats.