The Five Phases can represent the change in seasons
Chinese Customs for the Winter

While modern man celebrates his control over his environment through technologies such as air conditioning and electric lighting, the ancient Chinese understood that we must live in harmony with the natural world in order to maintain optimal health. Over centuries of observing the world around them, the Chinese developed patterns of living according to changes in season. These observations and lifestyle customs form the foundations of Chinese medicine and can work toward sustaining good health.

Han, meaning "cold," is one of the pathogens that can adversely affect our bodies
One of the many obvious observations of seasons includes the predominance of cold during winter. In Chinese medicine, Cold is one of the six pathogenic evils that negatively affect the body either from the inside or outside. External Cold, which attacks our body from the outside, manifests as chills, slight fevers, nasal congestion, and muscle aches; while Internal Cold arises from functional disorders in the body's systems and presents as poor digestion, watery diarrhea, a feeling of cold in the body and limbs, and muscle tension. While we should guard against External Cold during the winter by bundling up, we must also take extra care to prevent Internal Cold from taking root in our system by adjusting our eating habits.

Shen are the kidneys-- the source of life. They are easily affected during the winter.
Besides the prevalence of Cold, another precept of winter is that it is a time when nature enters a state of rest. With less sunlight and prevailing cold, very few plants grow and flourish; while animals hibernate or otherwise reduce their activities to conserve their energy. According to the "Five-Phases View" of Chinese Medicine, the most precious of energies--those stored in the kidneys-- are particularly open to influence during the winter and can be easily depleted or strengthened by lifestyle.

Therefore, during the winter, it is of the utmost importance to rest and avoid cold. Some Chinese customs include:

Dang Gui Soup
Ingredients:
Huang Qi:    18g
Dang Gui:    9g
Dang Shen:    9g
Gou Qi:    9g
Shu Di:    9g
Ox Tail:    200g

  • Wash all herbs and then soak in 4 cups of water for about 30 minutes.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer down to 3 cups.
  • Pour off soup into a large container, then add another 4 cups and repeat step 2.
  • Add second preparation in with the first to even concentrations out.
  • Drink 1 cup a day. Refrigerate remainder. Eat ox tail if desired.

    Be sure to cook in an earthenware or stainless steel pot. Do NOT use Aluminum!

    All ingredients available at Tan-A supermarket at Horsepen & Broad in Richmond