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Achieving Harmony with the Winter

Article by Howard Chen, MD as featured in The Galena Times.

In Chinese Medicine, the key to harmonious living and continuous thriving throughout our lives involves the understanding of the general trends of the season that we live in, and adjusting our thoughts and behaviors accordingly to flow with, rather than fight against the season.

From the Chinese Medicine perspective, the current season of Winter began on November 9th, 2019. Winter represents a time of cleansing and repair, a process that allows our bodies and spirit to rest and recuperate. In this season, we turn inwards and nourish our essential core - our bodies and spirits.

The organs associated with the Winter include the Kidney and Bladder. From the perspective of Western medicine, these organs eliminate water soluble toxins from the body. However, from the perspective of Chinese medicine, these organs are responsible for maintaining our energy reserves, and supporting the reproductive organs and the back of the body respectively.

There are many ways to nourish our bodies and fully potentiate the natural recuperation and repair process that takes place during the Winter months - these include appropriate sleep and food, and the use of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs.


Given the reduction of daylight hours, it’s natural for the body to sleep more than in other seasons. As the winter energy is most active during 9PM-3AM, deep sleep during these hours is most harmonious with the season, as well as the body’s repair processes.


The cold of the season requires us to ingest foods that will strengthen and replenish the Kidney and Bladder. Listed below are examples of simple traditional foods that are both warming and nourishing to these organs.

Dairy - Sweet Cream

Fish / Shellfish - Carp, Cod, Herring, Plaice , Salmon, Shrimp, Tuna

Fruits - Coconut and Coconut Milk, Peaches, Plum

Grains - Black Sticky Rice, Corn, Quinoa

Herbs - Chives, Parsley

Legumes - Adzuki, Black, Black Soybeans, Chickpeas, Green Beans, Lenses

Liquids - Warm drinks

Nuts - Chestnut, Pistachios. Walnut and walnut oil

Seeds - Black Sesame, Lotus Seeds , Fennel and Fennel Seeds

Spices and Seasonings - Star Anise, Carnation, Cinnamon, Cumin, Dill, Pepper

Vegetable - Sweet Potatoes

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are also helpful in helping the body adjust to the winter months. A visit to The Chen Center, an integrative primary care and medical acupuncture practice, can assist if you are having difficulty adjusting to the cold and the lack of sunlight for the winter. We look forward to assisting you to achieve harmony with this Winter season.

Howard Chen, MD is a board certified family physician who is also board certified in Integrative Medicine, Lifestyle Medicine, and Medical Acupuncture. He is the director of The Chen Center, a concierge Integrative Medicine and Medical Acupuncture clinic in Reno, NV. Dr. Chen believes that the prevention and reversal of illness through integrative and lifestyle solutions is as important as the management of disease.

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