The organs associated with the Winter season are the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands. There are specific things you can do to protect these organs from the draining effects of cold weather and the business of everyday life.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are considered the source of all energy within the body. When other organs are fatigued, they can draw energy from the kidneys. Even the immune system will pull energy from the kidneys. The cold weather is also a draw upon the kidneys.
Adrenal fatigue is also common in the Winter. Working too many hours, over exercising, over-scheduled days and evenings, etc. – these all draw upon kidney/adrenal energy.
Even though the season is hard on the kidneys, it is also the best time to build them up as they are more receptive to nourishment at this time of year. The flavor associated with the kidneys is salty. Too much or too little salty flavor may cause an imbalance. Good foods to eat are warm, hearty soups with root vegetables (some of the same ones you started to incorporate in the Fall: turnips, onions, and potatoes), dark green vegetables, asparagus and celery, and bone broth*. Also beneficial are foods with the kidney shape – like kidney beans and black beans. Dark colored foods, like blueberries, blackberries and black sesame seeds*, help nourish and increase kidney energy. Spirulina, kelp, and chlorophyll build the blood and nourish kidneys.
- Nettle and alfalfa have high mineral content and are slightly diuretic.
- Ginseng, eleuthero, rhodiola, and astragalus are all tonifying.
- Comfrey, marshmallow, and aloe vera are mucilaginous and help heal the urinary system. Aloe vera should be used raw, not as a hot tea.
Besides proper nourishment, we should also focus on slowing down the pace of our days and spend some time being more reflective on our health (more information will be coming soon on a January restorative cleanse).
The emotion associated with kidney is fear. Find a breathing exercise you like and practice it. Make sure not to hold your breath in stressful moments. The bodies cortisol response to fear and prolonged stress can imbalance other hormones contributing to low thyroid, estrogen dominance, low progesterone and low DHEA. Acupuncture can also be very helpful in balancing the kidney meridian and relieving stress.
Throughout the day, rub the kidney area and bend backwards while breathing deeply. This will increase blood flow to the kidneys. They can get a little crunched if you’re sitting slumped forward at work. Lastly, keep the kidneys warm. The kidney area means lower back down past the sacrum. To protect the immune system, keep your neck warm too.
Bone Broth (use the best quality you can find; organically raised animals would be best)
Black sesame seeds – buy a jar in the spice section or Asian section of the health food store. Spread 1-2 tablespoons in a pan and toast lightly, shaking the pan so they don’t burn. when they start to swell slightly, they are done. this will take about 3 minutes, watch them closely. Grind them with a mortar and pestle. Use on salads, add them to your soup just before eating, or sprinkle them on any meal.
Herbal teas – try to drink at least one cup per day. They are the most potent when bought from the bulk herb bins.
Seasonal changes can effect us both physically and mentally. In Chinese Medicine, the Season of Fall is associated with lungs and large intestine. As the weather gets cool and dry, the energy in the body starts to move inward and contract to keep the core warm. The skin and tissues can also get dry. This is the time to choose foods that will help prevent the drying of tissues and warm the body.
The flavor associated with the season is sour. Sour foods will help with the contraction and pulling of heat into the body’s core. Examples of these foods are: naturally fermented sauerkraut, pickles, apple cider vinegar, sour varieties of apples, lemons, limes and grapefruit. Vegetables that take longer to grow are in general more warming than vegetables that grow fast. Most root vegetables, with the exception of beets, are slower growing. To warm the body, focus on root vegetables: carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes, parsnips,rutabagas, etc. Foods that help with the production of body fluids are nuts, seeds, pears, pumpkins and honey. The best method for cooking foods for the Fall season is by baking or sauteing.
The emotions associated with the lungs are grief and “letting go.” If we are unable to let go and move on from stressful experiences, then we might feel sadness or depression. These emotions can lead to dysfunctions of the lungs causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and colds. The large intestine can be effected as well with symptoms such as constipation and/or diarrhea. Take the time this season to let go of grievances, and bad feelings you have been holding onto. Make sure your colon is functioning normally, 2-3 bowel movements per day, not loose.
Also, to prepare for the Winter month’s that are not too far away, please see the following Master Tonic directions. The master tonic is a good, natural antibiotic and takes 2 – 3 weeks to prepare.
Here’s a good Fall recipe that incorporates a number of good root vegetables:
Root roast recipe:
- 2 lbs root vegetables, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces (use potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, beets)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1/3 inch wedges
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
- chopped fresh herb, like rosemary
- Balsamic vinegar
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the root vegetables and onion in a roasting pan.
- Toss the vegetables with the olive oil and salt to taste.
- Do not crowd the vegetables.
- Roast the mixture for a total of 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, scatter the garlic cloves in with the vegetables.
- Continue stirring every 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and evenly browned.
- Before serving, add a sprinkling of fresh chopped herbs or balsamic vinegar, if you like for additional flavor.