Along with the winter season often comes a barrage of health conditions ranging from the common cold to dry skin. To remedy these situations, medical professionals typically advise everything from the flu vaccination to prescribed ointments and pills. However, we’ve all seen the long pharmaceutical commercials that seem to mention more about detrimental health possibilities (fatigue, heart conditions, possible death) than the benefits.
Still, traditional medical methods are ones that often involve Big Pharma loyalty, even at the risk of further jeopardizing human health. On goes the vicious cycle of taking medications that suppress, rather than truly address the problem.
Then there are doctors such as Dr. Aaron Michelfelder, who go against the grain of always following Western medicine. At a time when mention of “alternative approaches” often results in raised eyebrows, the Loyola University integrative medicine physician and professor says it’s time to embrace more Eastern medical approaches.(1)
“Traditional Chinese medicine teaches us to live in harmony with the seasons to protect our health,” he says. “Making certain adjustments to our diet, sleep regimen and lifestyle will make us more in sync with nature and better equipped to cope with the plunging temperatures.” He explains that staying healthy during the winter season means eating warming foods, getting more sleep and slowing down.(1)
3 Easy Traditional Chinese Medicine Tips to Stay Healthy in the Winter
Eat Warming Foods
Dr. Michelfelder says that certain foods naturally contain compounds that provide a warming effect in the body. Those foods include garlic, ginger, cinnamon, spicy foods and squash. Eating more of them helps restore any imbalance in the body that might take place in colder conditions.(1)
While today’s society seems more obsessed with working more and sleeping less, Dr. Michelfelder says that sleep — especially in the diminished daylight hours of the winter season — is more vital than ever. Traditional Chinese medicine recommends that people synchronize their bodies more with nature. As such, he recommends getting at least nine hours of sleep in the winter as opposed to the eight hours people should get during the warmer seasons.(1)
The on-the-go mentality that so many Western cultures subscribe to is something Dr. Michelfelder says should change.
During the winter months, it’s natural for the body to slow down and not engage in as many activities as one does in the spring and summer. While he’s not advocating becoming a couch potato, he’s simply saying that people should learn to be more comfortable with quiet time and perhaps consider meditation or taking a vacation. Such behaviors are also linked to the Eastern practice of self-care, which also may involve acupuncture and participating in social activities that help a person recharge their energy.(1)
Is Eastern Medicine Growing in Popularity?
Fortunately, it appears that Michelfelder’s “winterizing” health advice is growing in popularity.
For example, a recent Wall Street Journal article reported that both Chinese universities as well as experts in the United States and Europe are working on ways to blend Eastern medical practices with traditional Western ones. It’s a growing effort that aims to improve upon existing scientific guidelines and approaches so that alternative avenues may be more readily explored in Western cultures. Already, it’s being considered; Yale University experts are analyzing a potential herbal concoction that may ease symptoms among chemotherapy patients.(2)
Parsley tea, for example has been said to provide nourishing vitamins to the skin while also working to flush out any toxins in the liver. In turn, skin health can be restored.(3)
“Our immune system is naturally suppressed in the winter,” says Dr. Michelfelder. “Try not to fight the seasons. If we are not aligned with the natural cycles of life, we won’t be able to recharge our immune system to protect our health.”(1)
So next time your doctor wants you to consider taking an over-the-counter liquid to ease a winter sniffle, why not first consider getting more shut-eye, cooking with more garlic and pulling back on an on-the-go mentality?
Sources for this article include: