“The 3 months of winter, this is called closing and storage. Water freezes and the earth cracks, without harassment to the yang. Retire early and arise late. One must seek the light of the sun. Make the will as though it is hidden, as if it is concealed, as if one has everything one needs. . .This is winter qi’s correspondence. It is the Dao of cultivating storage. To go against it injures the kidneys, and in the spring engenderment will be diminished.” (“Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic”)
The art of longevity is an important tradition within Chinese Medicine that calls for paying attention to the seasons and living in harmony with them. In the winter months, this means paying attention to the Dao of cultivating storage. Storage means containing our resources within, as though our desires and hopes are a quiet secret we keep to ourselves. When we properly store in the winter, it strengthens the spring energy of engenderment and growth to be more robust.
In the winter, it’s natural to want to sleep more and be less active. Our tendons and muscles aren’t as limber, so it’s better to practice qi gong and breathing exercises rather than bending, stretching or vigorous exercise.
Happy New Year!
I hope you enjoyed the holiday season and some quality time with family and loved ones. As you may know, Chinese medicine views winter as the season of storage and quiet. I’ll be sharing some wintertime thoughts and delicious recipes with you in this newsletter, but first I’d like to introduce you to Elaina Leifer, who recently joined my practice to offer acupuncture facial rejuvenation treatments.
Elaina apprenticed with me for over 2 years, while studying for her master’s degree in acupuncture. Having mastered facial rejuvenation techniques, I invited Elaina into my practice. Her wonderful, calming presence combined with her intelligence and skills are a welcome addition to the clinic.
To read the whole newsletter, click here.
I can understand Gwyneth’s excitement about visiting Beijing. I will never forget the first time I arrived in Beijing in 1998. I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was really real, and that I indeed had landed in Beijing, a half a world away from New York City, to realize my dream of studying Chinese Medicine in the Mother Land.
I started each morning with a vigorous bicycle ride through the old hu-tong alleys of Beijing to get to the hospital and start treating patients. On the way I would stop and partake in the hot congee soup offered for breakfast along the way. At the hospital clad in my white lab coat I did not exactly blend in, but the patients warmed to my presence and were gracious and very curious. What was an ‘old foreigner’, doing in a hospital for Chinese Medicine? I took great delight in explaining to them, much to their amazement, that Chinese Medicine has a burgeoning tradition in the West. I also took cab rides whenever possible to practice my Chinese on a captive audience, my unsuspecting cab drivers. We always had lively conversations about Chinese Medicine versus Western medicine. It was in these conversations that I learned my first Chinese idiom: “Western medicine treats the branch, Chinese medicine treats the root.”
I cherish the memories of China, from climbing the Great Wall to riding my bicycle through the streets of Beijing to working in the hospitals seeing patients. I hope you enjoy Gwyneth Paltrow’s post in GOOP Go on Beijing.
Yours in health,
Bone broth – made from any animal bones, but preferable beef knuckles and spine or chicken backs and necks – is a ubiquitous food-medicine across the world. I use it as both a curative and as a preventative medicine. Bone broth is very nutrient-dense. Its high mineral content makes it good for bones, as does the presence of gelatin, which lubricates the joints and skin. I believe it also helps ward off a cold or flu when taken as a tea at the very first signs of a tickle in your throat, with garlic, ginger and a dash of cayenne.
If our digestion or diet is even somewhat suboptimal, we likely have nutritional deficiencies. Since minerals are already hard to digest, it’s probable we’re not getting enough of them. Here’s where bone broth is so great! The slow and long cooking with a bit of unfiltered Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg’s) draws out the minerals and collage/gelatin from the bones. This way the minerals are just floating around waiting to be absorbed. Much easier than having to digest and liberate the minerals by ourselves!
Please see my Winter newsletter for a recipe.
I just read this very sobering article about using impure water in a neti pot for nasal rinsing. Please, if you are using a neti pot, make sure you are boiling or otherwise sterilizing your water before using it. If you are boiling your water to help purify it, please make let it cool to an appropriate temperature before using it. Also, be sure never to force any water into your nasal passages. Neti pots are fantastic, so feel free to use them as you did before once you know your water is pure.