Winter is coming
by Bruno Custódio (from IVN Portugal)
This famous short sentence announces, in the TV series, the coming cold and danger.
As TCM practioners, we are completely aware of the challenges that winter and cold poses to the human body.
Cold equals stagnation of both Qi and Blood.
Among other ways of avoiding stagnation of Qi and Blood, physical activity is probably the most efficient one.
With winter, we get not only cold days but also bad weather, i.e. windy and rainy days.
This kind of weather tends to keeps us more indoors thus decreasing our physical activity. In short, we move a lot less in winter.
When we move less we tend to brood over more. Physical inactivity itself promotes stagnation. Stagnation leads to diseases. This kind of situation is particularly present in mature adults and older people. Avoiding this pattern [stagnation] is, therefore, crucial in the coming months.
The best and cheapest remedy we can provide is a simple advice or encouragement “spend time outdoors”, “move yourself”.
However, sometimes this is not enough and we need to take action in order to help who comes to us. Whenever I come across with a stagnation pattern, I tend to use “The Four Gates” combination (He Gu + Tai Chong). This combination works wonders when it comes to get things flowing. Sometimes it is mesmerizing to observe the power these four points have in resolving Qi and Blood stasis.
Despite the fact that this combination is extremely effective, there are occasions when it is not sufficient. Winter time usually also means an urge for really spicy foods and strong beverages (alcohol spirits) that can led to an unhealthy accumulation of internal heat namely in the blood.
When facing this situation our best ally is probably Xue Hai. This wonderful point not only cools the blood but also invigorates it and dispels stasis. When added to The Four Gates combo we are performing a more incisive intervention on Blood.
Another point to consider is Ge Shu. With this point we get also a cooling, moving and invigorating action in the Blood. However, with Ge Shu we get this effect allied with two crucial therapeutic actions, the nourishment and harmonization of the blood.
In order to support Ge Shu on nourishing the Blood we can do it with the classical combination Zu San Li + San Yin Jiao. Blood originates from grain hence the importance of supporting Stomach and Spleen when we want to nourish Blood. As we all know, winter food tends to be more demanding to both of them [Stomach and Spleen] so, by using this combination we are “killing two birds with one stone”.
Despite the wide array of points and combinations one can use in order to help the ones seeking us, our first move should always be:
“Go outdoors; stay active both physical and mentally”.