By Allie Despres
In Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) Five Element theory, there are five natural elements that exist within us. Water is the element of winter and it rules the kidney and bladder meridian channels. Now is the time to rest and replenish energy. Our bodies work hard as we rest. During sleep, your body works to repair muscle, organs, and other cells. Chemicals are released that strengthen your immune system start to circulate in your blood. This time of rest allows us to prepare for the reset of spring.
Our qi (pronounced chi), or energy, runs low during this season, we preserve it inside of us. We are surrounded by the death of nature and less activity to generate stimulation and excitement within us. The qi of the season affects others differently. For some, it contributes to depression, loneliness, and seasonal affective disorder. Others may feel relief for an opportunity to pause and do internal work. Whatever this transition is for you TCM, and acupuncture, work by supporting mind, body, and spirit through change.
Here are some tips for wellness this season:
Food: To best keep our bodies in balance, it is important to eat according to the season. In addition to eating seasonal, local foods that grow during this time, such as root veggies and winter greens, it is important to eat hot food. Eating cold food slows down digestion, even more so in the winter. Try to avoid raw foods like salads, sushi, cold cereal, iced drinks, and smoothies. This season, try eating more soups and stews, rice, toast, eggs, and experiment with warm salads. According to Chinese medicine, warming cooking methods increase the yang of the meal.
Staying Hydrated: Our bodies are made up of 60% water, so keeping up with your daily water intake can be difficult during the winter but even more essential. This season is associated with the element of water because of the abundance of it around us in the winter. We are drier and exercise less which makes us want to drink less. Drinking 50- 60oz of warm or room temperature water is ideal and will also aid digestion.
Herbs: Specifically adaptogenic herbs, help your body deal with stress and change. Please note that it is always best to consult with a health care practitioner before adding supplements to your wellness regimen. Some common Western adaptogenic herbs include Tulsi “holy basil”, ashwagandha, astragalus, oat straw, and Rhodiola. They can be taken in tea or supplement form.
*Stay tuned for more articles focusing on Chinese herbs for the winter season.
Schedule an acupuncture appointment: A seasonal tune-up will be therapeutic, and strengthen for the kidney qi. Rest is the theme of this season, taking time for yourself will be restorative and you will be able to feel the benefits. At Tai Chi Acupuncture and Wellness Center, our skilled practitioners tailor each visit to fit your needs and health goals. Call or find us online today to set up an appointment!
Becker, Lauren. “The Water Element: A TCM Approach to Winter Wellness.” Balance Acupuncture - Charleston, SC, Balance Acupuncture - Charleston, SC, 28 Dec. 2021,
Whitman, Jayne. “6 Traditional Chinese Medicine Tips for Healthy Winter Eating.” Five Seasons Healing - Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, New York, NY, 28 Jan. 2021,
Writer, Jiling Lin- Guest. “Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Formula for Winter Wellness.” Mountain Rose Herbs B20log, 2020,