How to Tonify Your Body with Warming Foods and Herbs – Chinese Winter Remedies
Winter is a good season to tonify your body. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), all things begin to sprout in spring, grow in summer, ripen (be harvested) in autumn and be stored in winter. Winter is the time associated with long nights and short days, with shorter sun time, less and weaker sunlight, thus it is a cold season. Winter is the time when the energy of many plants is stored deeply in their roots, and many animals stay hidden in their caves and begun their annual hibernation. Those non hibernating animals spend less time outside, reduce activities and sleep more.
For human beings, it is the same. Winter is a time to store our energies into our own roots; it is normal to sleep more, to eat warming and heavy foods, to gain weight that we lost in hot season, save and store our energies for the use in warmer seasons of next year.
TCM suggests that, winter is a good season to save, accumulate and increase energies, and tonify our bodies, especially for the people who suffer from Yang deficiency (weakness, coldness). Though you may tonify your body in any season, but many tonifying remedies have warming properties that are not good to consume in a hot season. It is easy to understand that, in hot summer, consuming hot remedies is just like add fuel to the fire. It could cause severe side effects. But in winter, when your body is cold, the warming remedies are just what you need. This is just like you need to wear thick clothes in winter to keep your warm in a cold season, you also need to consume warming foods and remedies to keep your body warm.
The following foods and herbs are categorized in the warming remedies in TCM:
- Meats: Mutton, lamb, beef, chicken, Venison (deer meat)
- Spices: Ginger, garlic, chili pepper, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, fenugreek, fennel, anise, zi su
- Herbal medicines: Ginseng, antler velvet, huang qi (Astragalus), dang gui (dong quai), du zhong, fu zi (Radix Aconiti Lateralis Praeparata)
- Grains: Wheat, indica rice, glutinous rice, sorghum, oats
- Fruits: Longan, orange, betel nut, apricots, cherries, peach, walnuts, pine nuts
- Others: Brown sugar, black tea, alcohol
When using the warming remedies to warm your body, you should know that, to save, accumulate and increase energies, only having warming remedies are not enough because most warming remedies just work as stimulants – open the channels, stimulate the functions of organs. This helps the body to absorb nutrition, but these remedies themselves contain no or no enough nutritional ingredients. Using warming remedies for long time without well supplied nutrition, the body will become dry and hot due to overstimulation. This is a condition described in TCM: Yang excessive and Yin deficiency. So TCM suggests that, when applying warming remedies to tonify your body, you should add heavy, sweet, moisturizing and nutritional foods and herbs to balance it, to avoid the body being “over-heated”.
It depends on the condition of your body. If your body is cold and damp, you can use more warming remedies with no or little heavy, sweet and moisturizing remedies. But if your body is cold and dry, then when using warming remedies, you should combine them with heavy, sweet and moisturizing remedies to avoid your body drying up.
Please note, before taking a winter remedy, you should consult your doctor, especially when you suffer from a severe disease.
For more information about natural remedies for winter, go to Natural Remedies Center: http://www.naturalremediescenter.com/treat/winter-remedies/