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Lily in a pond - Kura Chinese Medicine
The Australian bush in Winter
Winter time

organs = kidney and bladder / element = water / emotion = fear and depression / nature = yin / flavour = salty

Dear <<First Name>>,

I hope you are well, and not too cold in our chilly Melbourne weather. This newsletter is all about Winter. Winter is a time for hibernation. The yin of the body gathers and replenishes whilst the qi hides in deeper layers of body. It is the 
time of year to go to bed early and rise later. We do this to reflect the later sun and to conserve our yang qi. We rise once the sun has had time to warm the atmosphere, and we go to bed when it stops warming it. It is the season of the big yin. Yin is quiet, cold, introverted, still and deep. Therefore our lifestyle should match. It is a great season for quieter activities such as reading, knitting, drawing or simple contemplation. We move slower, and with not as much activity as in summer. Exercise activities should be gentler such as yoga, taichi and qigong. 

Being the season of hibernation makes Winter is a great "me" time. We can rest, recuperate and replenish all that we have spent during the warmer months. We can ready our bodies for the burst of energy that comes with spring. It is also the time to support our kidneys which in TCM is the source of our qi (energy). The kidneys holds the reserve of energy to help us with stress, illness's, change and ageing gracefully.

Read about how to nourish your kidneys
Winter foods

Winter foods

Foods for winter should focus on strengthening kidney and spleen yang as well as build up or supplement our qi, yang and blood. Foods to build blood, qi and yang include warm meats such as lamb, venison, beef, poultry and duck. Grapes and red wine are also good. Beware though, drinking too much alcohol can compromise your immunity. Eating alot of stews with legumes and meat helps warm the body and build up it's strength.

Foods to support and build spleen and kidney yang include all the warm meats as well as acrid spices such as aniseed and cloves. Vegetables such as fennel and leek, walnuts, chestnuts and black sesame are good for the kidneys. It is good to remember that like all things, foods are best done in moderation. Keep things balanced as too much warming and acrid foods can dry up the fluids and actually weaken the yin.
Read about what foods to eat to nourish your kidneys
A woman sneezes

The dreaded cold and flu

For many of us cold and flu is just a part of Winter. We expect to get it at least once. For those of us with poorer immunity this can be much more often. Below are some ways you can try and avoid catching the cold and flu. If you do get it try some of the methods below in the acute phase to either rid yourself of it completely or lessen the duration of it.

Prevention is often better than a cure:
- wear a scarf. Start wearing a scarf from Autumn onwards. As soon as the winds rise and the temperature drops begin scarf wearing. Cease this when Spring arrives and the reverse occurs. Chinese medicine sees cold entering via the neck (as well as the skin and the nose), so try and protect it from the wind, cold and rain;
- get plenty of sleep. As stated earlier, sleep needs to be longer in Winter. 8-9 hours is ideal;
- manage your stress. Stress eats away at immunity, so try things like meditation, yoga and comedy to lighten your emotional and mental load;
- eat nourishing and easy to digest foods. Strengthening your body via foods is one of the easiest avenues open to you;
- avoid drafts, shut up your bedroom at night, and turn off all fans and airconditioners so that no miscellaneous drafts blow over during your sleep.

If you do catch a cold..:
- if caught in the rain and cold, as soon as you get home have a hot ginger bath. Tie a chunk of ginger in a tea towel and rubber band it to the bath tap. Let the hot water through it. Soak for about 5 minutes (or until you reach a surface sweat) then hop out. Immediately cover your skin and then try and rest - or go straight to bed. This can also be done if your feel the first tickle of a cold;
- drink lots and lots of warm fluids. Have brothy soups for meals with garlic, ginger and spring onions to try and push the pathogen back out;
- again sleep. Lots and lots and lots of sleep. The body's best recovery mode is during sleep.
- if you are unable to hit the cold or flu on the head then go see your Chinese medicine doctor as soon as possible. S/he can give you treatment to lessen the severity of it and help you recover from it quickly.

*woman sneezing image courtesy of evah
Read about the herbs used to combat cold/flu
Fresh ginger aka sheng jiang in Chinese medicine

Fresh ginger (Zingiberis rhizoma recens, shēng jiāng)

Fresh ginger is a very important herb/food in Chinese medicine for benefiting the stomach, alleviating nausea, stopping cough, transforming phlegm and dispersing cold. It is great for warming the hands and feet so a cup of ginger tea beside you while you are working will help keep your fingers and toes from getting too cold. It helps remove phlegm and cold so if you have a productive cough (with white rather than yellow phlegm) it can be quite useful. It frees the surface (ie skin) from pathogenic factors which is why it is so useful at the beginning of a cold. It is also high in essential oils, starch and amino acids.

Ginger is best avoided if there is too much "heat" in the body. If your cough becomes raspy with yellow phlegm then avoid ginger. If you have a yellow tongue coat it is also best to avoid ginger.

Ginger has a drug-herb effect with anti-platelet and anti-coagulent medications and can increase the potential for bleeding. It also increases the sedative effect of some sedatives such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates.

*ginger image courtesy of jeff1980
Recipe for if Winter foods are causing you a bit of gas
Garlic aka dà suàn in Chinese medicine

Garlic (Allii sativi bulbus, dà suàn)

Garlic is a food many of us use every day. It is a fantastically diverse food and is particularly good for Winter. It is useful for killing parasites, unblocking accumulations, transforming food stagnation, promoting qi movement, expelling cold-damp, detoxifying and relieving cough. It is high in essential oils mainly allicin which has an antibiotic effect, as well as protein, calscium, vitamin B1 and C and carotene.

It is quite well known that garlic has an antibacterial and antiparasitic effect. As well as this regular intake of garlic has been shown to have a positive effect on stomach peristalsis and secretion. Garlic glycosides can lower blood pressure and also decrease blood lipids which may make it good prevention for arteriosclerosis. 

Garlic is best avoided by those people who have "heat". If your tongue is yellow or you have high blood pressure it may be best to avoid too much of this food. It also isn't good in excess for those who are yin deficient and for those with thrush.

*garlic image courtesy of lockstockb
A fantastic Winter recipe
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