The seasons have a very important place in health in Oriental medicine. And the change from season to season also means changes inside our bodies as well.
In oriental medicine there are actually five seasons: spring, summer, late summer, autumn and winter. Each one of the seasons corresponds to the 5 elements in oriental medicine – wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Health is when you can balance these five elements inside the body - so living appropriately according to the season can help you stay strong and healthy.
Now we have made the change to winter, it is important to keep our lifestyle in tune with the season. Winter is connected to the element Water which is about storage and containment.
If you look at nature, winter is a time for rest and conserving energy. Trees often shed their leaves, most plants stop growing, and animals and insects hibernate. They are storing their energy for the winter months so that when spring comes, they can become animated and alive again.
As humans we should be doing something similar. The trouble is we have jobs, families, electricity, heating, television, computers and mobiles and most of us no longer follow nature. Nature is something that exists out there but not in here.
We should be slowing down and resting.
We should have time for reflection and thoughtfulness.
We should be thinking about our goals and dreams.
We should be aware of our senses.
The days are shorter so we should, according to nature, be going to bed earlier.
But most of us are not.
The ancient Chinese conected the element of Water to two physical organs in the body – your kidneys and bladder. The kidneys is traditionally the place where our supply of life is stored. It’s like a big battery. You can charge it up a little by leading a healthy lifestyle or drain it quickly by leading an exhausting, stressful lifestyle. When it runs out, there’s no more power and your body will turn off. You know the kidneys are losing power when you get common symptoms like lower back pain, tiredness, bladder or prostate problems, diarrhoea, weak knees and hearing problems.
Your kidneys can be weakened by exposure to cold weather or air conditioning and by eating iced or refrigerated foods and drinks. They can also be weakened by chemicals, such as antibiotics, food additives and air pollutants. Not enough water and too much bitter, salty, or spicy foods may also be harmful. Also, too little sleep, excessive exercise, sexual activity, or work.
You can strengthen your life-store by:
going to bed earlier
taking gentle exercise
eating more kidney strengthening foods like oats, aduki beans, kidney beans, asparagus, sweet potato, walnuts, raspberries, quinoa, shrimp, mussels and parsley.