Preparing for cold weather with Chinese Medicine: 7 Tips

Updated: Oct 23


The Autumn and Winter seasons are times when we naturally introvert and gather inward to preserve our warmth and strength.




Colder weather is creeping in and we have fired up (no pun intended) our moxibustion sticks and infrared heat lamp for you. Using moxa and heat ensure that joints stay limber and that the digestive system works optimally so that you don't have to slow down unnecessarily this season.





Winter is the "water" season according to the 5 elements of Oriental Medicine. The water organs are the kidneys and urinary bladder. The winter symbolizes the end of the life cycle and is fitting since the health of the kidney stored energy indicates our longevity.

The kidneys, the yin organs represented by the winter months, store your "Jing." Life force is called “Jing” in Chinese. We are all born with a certain amount of Jing. When our Jing stock is gone, the body dies. High stress, poor diet, poor sleep and prolonged illness drain energy. When the daily energy is exhausted, we dip into our Jing account in order to maintain status quo. As Jing dwindles our bodies can become weak.


The Winter is a fragile time for the kidneys because the kidneys are damaged by the cold, especially if Jing is low. Perhaps you have observed that older folks become intolerant to cold, this is why.

Alternatively, if we eat proper meals at consistent times, keep stress low, and have alternating periods of rest and exercise, we increase energy. Any energy left over from our daily needs adds to our Jing balance and thereby increases longevity. Eating foods that nourish the body quicker create energy much faster and hence preserves Jing (see dietary advice below).

Ancient Chinese texts have a plethora of material devoted to maintaining longevity and youth. It is clear that before acupuncture and herbal medicine, diet truly is the 1st line of defense. You are what you eat.



Traditional Chinese Medicine 7 Winter Tips:




1) Get Sleep: During these yin months your body will naturally want to go to sleep earlier and sleep later.









2) Stay warm at home: Keep the bottom of your feet and your lower back covered. These are entry points for cold pathogens to enter your body and make you sick.






3) Shield from Wind when Outside: The acu-points on the nape of your neck (GB20 Feng Chi or Wind Pool) are where wind sneakily enters your body and causes cold and flu symptoms.







4) Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Preventative care: Acupuncture was originally meant to be a preventive care. Acupuncture stimulates the balance and flow of Qi (pronounced chee) energy. The Qi is defined as body energy. When the body is healthy, Qi flows smoothly through the entire body. Traditional Chinese Medicine considers Qi flow essential to good health. If you tend to get sick a lot during the winter, don't wait until the fever and body aches take over. Acupuncture and herbal formulas can keep you in balance and strengthen your immune system.

4.1)Especially for little ones: We encourage children with weak immune systems to get regular acupuncture treatments.




5) Sick Care: There are many herbal formulas, syrups and tinctures that treat colds etc. Acupuncture is also helpful in shortening sick days of a flu or virus and does wonders for congestion, body aches and headaches.








6) Home Care: Both vitamin C & Vitamin D should be taken daily to prevent getting ill. If you feel something "coming on" drink ginger tea, or make your own by shredding fresh ginger root and boiling it with scallion (green onion).









7) Eat Warm Foods: The following Congee is prepared with astragalus root. Astragalus is a herb that is native to China. It is thought to relieve weakness and fatigue and to enhance stamina and immunity. In traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus is often recommended in the winter to prevent colds and flu, however, it is generally not taken once a cold or flu begins.






Winter Dietary Advice:


A popular Chinese dish is Congee. Congee is grain based food that is cooked with far more water that is needed to cook it. Add some protein and bland veggies and you’ve got a meal in a pot. Supposedly, Chinese sages who live actively for over 100 years eat this type of food everyday. You can even get creative and make a breakfast version with oatmeal.

Congee [KON gee], also known as jook or juk, is a rice porridge commonly served for breakfast in China. Bland in taste, it acts as a base for many toppings, including ginger, scallion, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish, peanuts, and eggs. Made with one part rice to about sixteen parts liquid, congee is easy to digest and tonifies the body, so it is often given to weak or frail people.


Cold Winter Congee

(Recipe from Cathy Wong)


1 oz. astragalus root

1/2 cup long-grain white rice

8 cups of water or stock

12 black dates, soaked and pitted

1 large or 2 small carrots, diced

1 Table Spoon fresh ginger, minced

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. powdered ginger

1 tsp. powdered cardamom seed

Place all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 to 2 hours until the congee is soft and has the consistency of porridge. Remove the astragalus root. This congee can be served with a dash of cinnamon and a pat of butter.


Astragalus root can be found at Asian herb shops or selected health food stores. It is about a dried, slightly yellow root approximately 5 inches in length.


Other suggested foods are: root veggies such as carrots, beets,and rutabagas, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, chard, aduki beans, black beans, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, winter squash, pumpkin and walnuts.


(For more info on a good winter diet and WHY? see http://www.holisticnetworker.com/170/traditional-chinese-medicine-nutrition-guide-to-eating-with-the-season-winter/)

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Esther Hornstein LAc. Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Therapist


Esther Hornstein L.Ac. licensed by New York State to practice acupuncture and nationally board certified by the NCCAOM. Her private practice is in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.

To make an appointment you may:


call : 054-719-9600

e-mail : e0547199600@gmail.com





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