Winter is here so BEWARE!
You need to look after yourself in the colder months, so that colds and flu don’t incubate. These colds and flu will then develop and manifest through the winter months, and continue on through to Spring.
Statistically, “Spring is a common time for Winter illness,” according to the Journal of Traditional Chinese medicine. Colds and flu are particularly prevalent during Spring if you haven’t taken good care of your body through the months prior to, and during, winter.
If you are working long hours, approaching heavy exam periods, or starting on that new business venture to bring in the start of the new financial year, hopefully you have looked after your body to get through what might develop into a serious post-Winter illness. Protect yourself through Winter and you will be strong, fit, and cold-and-flu free through to Spring.
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Understanding the fundamentals of how the body works from a Traditional Medicine point of view may help you prevent getting these ailments in winter and may even help alleviate symptoms for those unfortunate enough to have developed them.
Traditionally, in Western medicine when we get a cold or flu, the organ in disharmony is the lungs. We have symptoms such as a dry cough or otherwise a productive cough with mucous and phlegm build up. We think the disharmony is just in the lungs, it is not.
The lungs are where the illness manifests, but from which organ is it really coming?
The organ systems of the body – heart, pericardium, small intestine, spleen, stomach, lungs, colon, kidneys, bladder, liver, and gall bladder – are all connected. There are two cycles in the Chinese organ system theory – the sheng and ke cycles. I will be looking at just the sheng cycle.
Each organ system affects the other along this Sheng Cycle. So, think of the cycle as a mother/child relationship. The mother feeds it’s child along this Sheng cycle. So, as in the diagram above, the heart/small intestine/pericardium/ three heater feed the stomach/spleen, and this feeds the lung/colon and this feeds the kidney/bladder, and this feeds the liver/gall bladder.
The spleen is responsible for; blood building and immunity. If it is weak, this is where cold and flu can begin to develop. The spleen is the mother that feeds the child or the lungs. If it is deficient, it cannot feed the lungs and so, cold and flu will develop.
So, it is true then, that the cold and flu does not come from the lungs. It manifests in the lungs, but it develops from the stomach and spleen.
The spleen is responsible for transportation and transformation of damp and phlegm, so if this is weak, a productive cold and flu will develop. It is also responsible for the production of energy. Commonly, one will complain of feeling run down – because the spleen is so deficient that it cannot build energy and cannot remove damp and phlegm, making the person feel heavy and tired. In these instances a cold and flu can rapidly set in.
The easy way to avoid a cold and flu is by eating the right foods during winter. Feed the stomach and spleen the right foods so that the right amounts of vitamins and minerals are absorbed, and all the required nutrients are obtained from all the main food groups.
Also, eat at the right times for the stomach and spleen. Eating according to the Horary Clock – 7am till 11am – will mean these organs will be well nourished.
Eat with the seasons. Eat food that is in season. We have oranges and mandarins and lime and lemons during winter. Why? Because they contain Vitamin c and these foods prevent colds and flu. Easy!
Livestock is big and beefy during winter. Why? Protein is very important for the repair and strengthening of body tissue and very important for immunity. So eat it!
From a Chinese Medicine Point of view, the spleen is nurtured with foods that are easy to digest and what is known as Earth foods. These foods include things such as pumpkin and sweet potato soup and any other thick soups such as vegetable soup, potato and leek etc, fresh rye bread, lentil dahl (pureed lentil) with fresh garlic and coriander, well cooked grains, rice congee with fresh dates or shitake mushrooms for a savoury rice congee, lentil burger with egg whites and rye bread crumb.
Any well cooked foods are Earth type foods. Avoid too much raw food or hard-to-digest foods. I mentioned to eat meat but this is hard to digest. So maybe during this time, get your butcher to mince some lean meat and stick to a nice shepherds pie, which would be great for the spleen and very yummy. Try it without the pastry.
Avoid too many peppers and spices during this time. Most spices heat up the system and may irritate the stomach, and affect the functions of the spleen and digestion.
So, if you are prone to the nasty symptoms of cold and flu, follow these guidelines of nourishing and strengthening the spleen’s energy to nurture the lungs and get healthy the natural way.
By that, I mean avoid the quick fix prescription drugs. Eat right and feel good, and maybe even try a treatment or two of acupuncture. The Chinese know their stuff. And if you are continually getting sick, take a break and chill out to allow the body the time it needs to recuperate properly!
Rest, revive, retreat by the open log fire and happy Winter!
Do you have any other suggestions to add? Share with us in the comments.