According to Oriental medicine, the cold months of winter are the perfect time to recharge your battery and generate vital energy, or Qi, in order to live, look, and feel your best.
The ancient Chinese believed that human beings should live in harmony with the natural cycles of their environment. The cold and darkness of winter urges us to slow down. This is the time of year to reflect on health, replenish energy and conserve strength.
Ruled by the water element, winter is associated with the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands.
The kidneys are considered the source of all energy or “Qi” within the body. They store all of the reserve Qi in the body so that it can be used in times of stress and change, or to heal, prevent illness and age gracefully.
Winter is the season where all living things slow down, conserve their energy and prepare for the outburst of new life and energy in the spring.
Eat warm hearty soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts to help warm the body’s core and to keep nourished. Sleep early, rest well, stay warm, and expend a minimum quantity of energy.
While optimal health and well-being in the winter season calls for rest, energy conservation and the revitalization of body and spirit, your holiday activities may have a different agenda.
The holidays can be filled with a dizzying array of demands, visitors, travel and frantic shopping trips. For many people, it is also a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness and anxiety. Compound the usual seasonal pressures with the constant barrage of bad economic news and you may find this to be one of the most emotionally trying times of the year.
Stress, anxiety and depression can cause a disruption in the flow of vital energy, or Qi, through the body. These energetic imbalances can throw off the immune system or cause symptoms of pain, sleep disturbances, abnormal digestion, headaches, and menstrual irregularities, and, over time, more serious illnesses can develop.
Acupuncture treatments can correct these imbalances and directly affect the way your body manages stress and your mental health.
Seasonal acupuncture treatments in winter serve to nurture and nourish kidney Qi which can greatly enhance the body’s ability to thrive in times of stress, aid in healing, prevent illness and increase vitality.
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The first group received acupuncture treatment specifically tailored to their depression symptoms. The second group received a general acupuncture treatment not specific to depression, and the third group was placed on a waiting list for acupuncture treatment, but received no treatment. Those in the tailored acupuncture treatment group experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, compared to those in the non-specific treatment group. Moreover, over 50% of the participants no longer met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for depression after the study.
Study findings suggest that using acupuncture alone could be as effective as other types of treatments for relieving depression symptoms typically used in Western medicine, such as psychotherapy and drugs.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture specifically in thetreatment of stress.
In 2008 Anesthesia & Analgesia published a study finding that an acupuncture point alleviated preoperative anxiety in children while a 2003 study conducted at Yale University showed that ear acupuncture significantly lowered the stress level of the mothers of children that were scheduled for surgery.
A German study published in Circulation found acupuncture significantly lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The extent of the blood pressure reductions by acupuncture treatments was comparable to those seen with anti-hypertensive medication or aggressive lifestyle changes, including radical salt restrictions.
The University of New Mexico measured the affects of acupuncture on 73 men and women withpost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The researchers found the acupuncture treatments to be as helpful as the standard treatment of cognitive behavioral therapy.
If the stress or depression in your life is throwing you off balance, consider acupuncture therapy to regain peace of mind, regulate your immune system and stay healthy.