The groundhog has predicted another 6 weeks of winter. Read on to find out your answers about how to stay warm and in good health for the rest of the season.
Q: How can I naturally keep myself warm?
A: In the winter, traditional Chinese medicine recommends that you avoid eating raw vegetables, cold salads, and icy cold foods and beverages. Instead, you should eat warming foods and drink warm beverages.
For a warming tea from head to toe, make cinnamon and clove tea by putting 2 cinnamon sticks and 1 teaspoon of cloves in 3 cups of water and boil for 15 minutes. Strain and drink 3 cups each day. Drink one cup in the evenings to warm your insides, which encourages a good night’s sleep.
You may also try specially blended Winter Tea, which uses herbs that expel cold while warming and tonifying your kidneys.
Q: Do you have any dietary advice for keeping your immune system strong?
A: Warming, hearty soups are a good way to stay healthy all winter long. When you slowly simmer foods over low heat, you gently leach out the energetic and therapeutic properties of the foods, preserving the nutritional value of the foods and giving your immune system the minerals it needs to function properly. Keep in mind that boiling can destroy half of the vitamins found in vegetables, so cook soup over a low heat.
• Immune-Boosting Soup Simmer these ingredients for 30 minutes: cabbage, carrots, fresh ginger, onion, oregano, shiitake mushrooms (if dried, they must be soaked first), the seaweed of your choice, and any type of squash in chicken or vegetable stock. Cabbage can increase your body’s ability to fight infection, ginger supports healthy digestion, and seaweed cleanses the body. Shiitake mushrooms contain coumarin, polysaccharides, and sterols, as well as vitamins and minerals that increase your immune function, and the remaining ingredients promote general health and well-being. Eat this soup every other day to build a strong and healthy immune system. For more healing soup tips, take a look at my recent blog: Soup Therapy: Detoxify, Lose Weight, and Boost Immunity.
Q: My skin is taking a beating from the long dry winter and all the indoor heat. How can I get rid of the dryness?
A: In general, dryness is a condition that is caused by depleted internal fluids. Keep hydrated and drink plenty of water, at least 60 ounces of fresh, filtered every day. The tea and soup recommended above will help you up your fluid intake! Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee. Also take shorter showers and keep the temperature warm rather than steaming hot. Keep in mind that harsh deodorant and antibacterial soaps are damaging to your skin, stripping it of lipids and moisture. If you have dry skin, it's best to use mild soaps with added oil and moisturizer. After cleansing, your skin should never feel tight or dry.
For a moisturizing treatment, gently rub your skin with calendula oil twice a day. To bring relief from tight and itchy skin, mix in ten drops ofTonic Oil (wintergreen, eucalyptus, and menthol) with fresh aloe gel; apply liberally and frequently.
Q: By the end of winter, I am so sick of the dreary weather. What can I do for the winter blahs?
A: You can kick the winter blahs by dressing for the weather and getting outside once a day. Studies show that exposure to sunlight stimulates the pineal gland, which affects the production of other brain chemicals such as serotonin, the neurotransmitter sometimes called the “mood chemical.” It can also boost your immune system, waking up the activities of the natural killer cells that patrol our borders looking for intruders and cancer cells. If weather permits, get outdoors daily and let the sun bathe you with its spirit-lifting properties. Even in the winter, avoid overexposure with sunscreen if out in the sun between 10 am – 3 pm.
Also, physical movement is essential for circulating energy, but avoid perspiring excessively in the winter. In Chinese medicine, the sweat is seen as an escape of yang energy. You can nurture your energy reserves by taking a moderate walk. Or consider practicing tai chi or qigong exercises, which are very effective in balancing energy.
When inside, instead of feeling a victim of cabin fever, use the indoor as a time to explore your creativity. Cuddle up with a book, or pick up a new indoor hobby, like knitting, painting, woodcarving, baking – whatever you find appealing.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!