Happy New Year

Snake

Before we get started on the blog, I want to wish everyone at NUHS a Happy New Year and a Happy Chinese Year of the Snake!. I have some great tips for everyone this week to keep us healthy in the winter season especially if you cannot make it into National's Whole Health Clinic. 

"During the winter months, all things in nature wither, hide, return home, and enter a resting period. This is a time when yin dominates yang."
-- The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Chinese Medicine 

Thinking of Midwest winters, the first thing that pops into our heads is snow, and more snow, more and more snow, and lots more snow (just kidding, but typically true), winter break, family gatherings, overeating, holiday parties, desserts, hot cocoa, puffy coats, and of course, colds and flu. How do we take care of ourselves mentally and physically? I have four lifestyle changes that we can integrate in our daily lives to keep us healthy in the winter season. I also added Chinese nutritional food therapy, which includes a classic herb and cooking spice that we can add to our diets.

Resolutions 500

Keys to Healthy Winter Lifestyle

  1. Exercise
    Even though we naturally slow down during this time, we should still exercise to keep our circulation flowing, immune system strong, muscles stretched, and joints lubricated. Tai Chi and Medical Qi Gong are excellent exercises.
  2. Sleep
    Wintertime is a good time to conserve your energy. This is the time you want to go to bed a little earlier and sleep a little longer. Let your body recharge. Snuggle up with a good book, a pet, or a warm soft blanket, and snooze! 
  3. Meditation
    Give your mind some quiet time. With less stress comes better sleep, which leads to a stronger immune system. Take five minutes minimum daily to sit in complete stillness and quiet--and breathe.

    I also want to recommend the healing sounds. There are six healing sounds that correspond with our organs to rejuvenate energy in our body and bring balance. There are also great YouTube videos and two books that are good reads if you are interesting in learning more about healing sounds: Healing Sounds  by Jonathan Goldman, and Six Healing Sounds: Taoist Techniques for Balancing Chi  by Mantak Chia, that comes with a CD. Dr. Yurasek and John Robertson also teach healing sounds in Medical Qi Gong class here at the National campus in Lombard.
  4. Self-reflection
    The stillness of the winter season is a good time for self-reflection and taking a good look at you. Traditionally, people have made New Year's resolutions in January, which is a form of self-reflection. I have always looked at resolutions as how we can better ourselves in the New Year. Self-reflection is a great tool to use to find the balance and peace we desperately need in our busy lives as students and for our patients.

Cumin: Nutritional Food Therapy Herb 

Gui Zhi Tang is the most important formula in the classical medical text Shang Han Lun, which translated in English means "On Cold Damage" or "Treatise on Cold Injury." This formula can be taken regularly to harmonize your Yin and Yang and to strengthen your immune system. Cumin is a spice that boosts immunity and improves liver function, reduces flatulence and aids in digestion. It is an excellent addition to meat curries, stews, vegetables, seafood, and sauces. 

Grains

According to nature, our bodies are meant to slow down and conserve energy during the winter. Times have changed since the times of the Yellow Emperor thousands of years ago in China, but the basic principles should not. Keep in mind winter's wisdom in order to stay healthy throughout the New Year! Remember this is cold and flu season, so prevention is the key. I would recommend herbs and getting acupuncture at least once a week during this cold and flu season will strengthen your immune system. 

Happy New Year and thanks for continuing to support the AOM blog!