Written by: Dr. LaDonna Rocha
Winter has finally arrived in the Coastal Bend and has us trading in our flip-flops for thick socks and jackets! Some of us are relishing the suggestion of a new season, while others are already missing the beach weather. Whichever side you fall on, there’s a reason for the season (I couldn’t help it, sorry!) and a purpose in nature for the subtle (and not-so-subtle) shifts we feel around us.
Around the apothecary and clinic, we’ve been settling in and enjoying the winter season with an eye on the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concepts. Winter is the season our bodies shift and build those internal reserves we’ll be needing come spring. It’s a time to build our own roots and nurture the warmth within us.
“Slow and steady” is the name of the game right now. You might be feeling the pull to move a little slower and with more intention than usual. That is nature talking to you! TCM identifies the kidney as the prime focus in this time for its role as the source of qi. Keep in mind, TCM organs are more about the systems they create than the single, individual organs. A great way to support the warmth in your system is by incorporating warming, nutrient-dense vegetables, and spices into your foods during this season. We’ve been sharing lots of recipes, tips, and tricks on our social media feed to help you with this!
The first thing I think of when we’re talking about warming spices is turmeric. This incredibly popular root is hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties in Western culture, but it has many more benefits: choleretic, cholagogue, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, blood purifier (alterative), and digestive tonic. It is also soothing to respiratory challenges like asthma. It can be used as a topical paste, tea, gargled, in food, and boiled with milk. A gargle of warm water and turmeric powder can help a sore throat. It has also been traditionally used as an inhalant to ease congestion by sprinkling the dried or powdered rhizome over a fire and inhaling the fumes. Black pepper is an important addition to any turmeric formula as it increases liver absorption. Consider adding fresh cracked pepper and a healthy fat to the recipe the next time you’re incorporating turmeric into your dishes!