It is the coldest time of year; a time for getting all wrapped up before you go outside. In winter we are told to wrap up warm and put another jumper on as a means of preserving warmth and preventing disease. For many years Chinese healthcare has emphasized the close relationship between health and clothing. It is an essential part of our wellbeing, just like food. Many healthcare professionals would agree that clothing should vary with the changes in climate every season. How many layers you wear and the thickness of your clothing depend on the environment.
In ancient China, it was advised to add more layers as it gets colder. However, this should be done gradually to avoid upsetting the body’s Qi – the vital energy that makes you a living, breathing creature as opposed to a pile of lifeless atoms. As we know, it is important to keep a good supply of free flowing Qi as it keeps us healthy by providing nourishment, warmth and energy to all parts of the body. Dressing in layers also helps to avoid overheating and sweating, which may chill your body causing a weaker immune system.
As we have seen in previous years, the cold brings with it the winter flu season and can cause serious illnesses for those with weak immune systems, such as pneumonia. Keeping warm helps to store up Yin essence and allows Yang energy to be lost, maintaining a balance that is good for your health. Furthermore, the cold slows down the immune system as your body uses its resources to warm you up. By keeping warm, you allow your body’s resources to be used to fight off germs.
Most importantly, keeping your back and feet warm is crucial at this time of year, especially around the kidney area. In Chinese medicine winter is the most Yin time of year and is the season associated with the element of water which is related to our kidneys and bladder. We must keep our kidneys warm to reserve Yang and our health. The kidney meridian begins at your feet and leads up to the kidneys, so wear thick socks and slippers to keep your kidneys warm and strong. By keeping our backs warm and protected from the cold air, we are directly protecting the kidney organs.
Winter is also a great time of year to get acupuncture that focuses on the kidney meridian points which will boost the kidney’s energy and treat any common conditions you are suffering from, including the common cold.