Tag Archives: Winter

Dr. Dazey’s Immune-Boosting Stew

download

Food is powerful. It not only gives us sustenance and energy to go about our days, but it also has healing powers that can help strengthen organs, fortify Qi energy, and even boost our immune system. When we enjoy foods that grow with the season, and eat the foods our bodies need (like warm foods such as stews in winter), we can make strides towards living a healthier life.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/4 lb (1 larg clump) maitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1/4 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large turnip, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cabbage, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock or chicken bone broth
  • 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes, juice included
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 6 pieces astragalus root, sliced lengthwise for easy retrieval, or 1/2 cup in a simmering bag
  • 2 cups of kale, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and then add in the onion, mushrooms, and carrot. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften.
  2. Add in the garlic and saute for another minute or two.
  3. Add in the butternut squash, turnip and cabbage, as well as the salt and spices. Stir to mix it all up.
  4. Pour in the broth, tomatoes (juices and all), astragalus root and the thyme. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Add in the kale, stir and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. once the kale is fully wilted, the soup is ready.
  6. Discord the thyme sprigs and astragalus root before serving and add in a bit more salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Let cool slightly and then ENJOY!!

 

This recipe was found in Bastyr University’s Health Feature, Fall 2016. And at the following url: https://bastyr.edu/sites/default/files/images/insidebastyr_fall16.pdf

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Many people feel down as winter approaches.  It’s dark.  It’s cold. The holidays can be stressful.

But for some people every winter is unbearable.  They’re tired and depressed.  They don’t want to get out of bed.  They snap at their families and binge on junk food.

These people have seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Our moods and energy levels fluctuate with the seasons.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) understands these cycles but modern life does not.  These days, you are expected to be active, productive and creative at all times of the year.  There is no accommodation for a slow, quiet winter.  According to TCM, this conflict causes stress, which can result in SAD.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that people experience at the same time every year.  Most often, symptoms start in September or October and are relieved in April or May, however some people experience SAD at different times of year.  The symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Extreme fatigue, lethargy and sleepiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Lack of concentration
  • Decreased libido

No one knows exactly what causes SAD but most of the theories involve light.  Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, is triggered by light.  Some people believe that decreased serotonin is the culprit.  Others blame melatonin, a hormone that affects sleep and mood, because it is affected by darkness.  In either case, light plays a role.

Western Medicine Treatments for SAD

Western medicine treats SAD with medications, psychotherapy and light therapy.

There are 2 types of light therapy.  For bright light treatment, you sit in front of a light box for 30-45 minutes every day.  For dawn simulation treatment, a dim light comes on while you sleep and gradually gets lighter.

Many people find light therapy very effective, and a recent Canadian study confirms this.  Scientists found that light therapy was just as effective as Prozac for alleviating SAD, with fewer side effects and faster results.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatments for SAD

TCM takes a holistic view of the body and seasonal cycles, and understands the energy behind them.  All life is made of qi, or life force.  One of the principles of qi is that everything is made of yin and yang.  Yin is the feminine side, nourishing, cold and dark.  Yang is the masculine side, active, warm and light.

Autumn marks the beginning of the yin cycle of the year.  Daylight decreases, temperatures drop and nature takes a rest.  Just as animals slow down and hibernate, our bodies slow down.  It is a time for reflection and quiet activity.

If your constitution is particularly yin, from gender, genetics, environment or lifestyle, the yin cycle may hit you hard.  Contemplation and rest may become isolation and depression.  Your winter cycle becomes seasonal affective disorder.

The holidays put an additional stress on your system.  At a time when your body wants to slow down, holiday activities speed up.  Parties, shopping, travel and holiday celebrations create tension between what your body needs and what you’re doing.  This stress depletes your body even more, contributing to exhaustion and cravings for carbohydrates to replenish your depleted energy.

To stay balanced in the winter and ward off SAD, conserve your energy.  Practice quiet, yin activities like restorative yoga, Tai Chi, qigong, walking or journaling.  Eat warm, slow-cooked stews and soups.  Add yang spices like garlic, ginger, black pepper, cloves and basil to your foods.  Limit cold drinks and raw vegetables.  Rebuild your energy to prepare for spring.

Most importantly, make an appointment with me for a seasonal acupuncture treatment.  By balancing your qi, your seasonal affective disorder symptoms can be relieved.

Winter doesn’t have to be a time of sadness, exhaustion and binge eating. Call me to discuss your treatment options today.

SLEEP & THE WINTER SEASON

During the winter it is natural to feel a little sleepier, slower and possibly less motivated.

It’s the season of stillness and conservation. It’s a period of hibernation and our time to rest, slow down and revitalize our reserves. Winter is a great time of year to reflect on our health, replenish our energy, conserve our strength and heal on a deeper level.

During the winter, it is important to conserve our battery reserves. Our bodies are instinctively expressing the fundamental principles of winter: rest, reflection, conservation and storage. The “downtime” that winter provides gives us an opportunity to slow down, check in and take account as to how our lifestyle supports or detracts from our health, and to recharge our battery.

Winter Evening

It is always healthy to get some form of exercise daily, but during the winter months it is best to participate in gentler, less exerting exercises, such as, yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, swimming, walking, and other low impact sports. Save the extreme exertion activities for the spring and summer months.

Here are a few easy pointers on how you can support and promote your own health this time of year:

Sleep. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise. Go to bed early and if possible, wake up after the sun appears in the morning. Extra sleep will also benefit you if feel as though you are coming down with something. If you do become ill, naps may help you recover faster.

“C” it. Load up on Vitamin C and other multivitamins. These can help support your health.

Water, water everywhere. Drink water. Every cell of your body requires this liquid gold to keep it lubricated and running smoothly.

Avoid the consumption excessively cold foods such as ice cream and iced beverages. If possible, drink liquids at room temperature. Too many colds foods, especially during the colder months, can disrupt your digestion.

Take herbs that support immune function. Astragalus, Osha root, Reishi and Shitake mushrooms are helpful. These have been used for thousands of years by acupuncturists to keep people healthy and strong.

Come in for acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture works extremely well when you have a cold, and also as a tune up to stimulate the healing capacity of your body. If you begin to get the sniffles, body chills, or feel under the weather, give me a call.  I may be able to help!