I hope Winter is treating you well. Despite a strong personal preference for Summer, I find Winter to be a wonderfully beneficial time of year. Winter is the season of stillness and moving inward. It’s about going deep within ourselves to reconnect with our resources and identity.
We lead busy lives. Luckily, nature has built a period of the year when the days are short, gently suggesting we go to bed early and rest indoors to avoid the cold. This is a season of conservation. Wear wool socks and a scarf. Enjoy warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Eat warm and nourishing foods, like root vegetables, black sesame seeds, lamb, mutton and venison. Try to connect to the idea of the season as we see it in nature – everything is quiet and still, waiting for rebirth under the warm rays of the sun in Spring.
A few weeks back, the Winter Solstice occurred. The Winter Solstice is the day each year when daylight is at its shortest. From then on, the hours the sun lights the sky increase. Winter turns to Spring, and soon we reach the long days of Summer until the Summer Solstice marks the decline of daylight again. For an event that marks the growth of warming daylight, we find ourselves now, oddly enough, in the Chinese calendrical period called Xiao Han, or Little Cold, which is followed by Da Han, Big Cold. Why, you may ask, are there two periods of Cold as the warming forces of nature are increasing?
My teacher answers this question with the analogy of a car slowing down. Say you are driving, and want to stop. You’ve made the decision to do so, but first you have to apply the brakes. You don’t stop instantly, or you’d be flung from the car. Instead you gradually slow down until you reach stillness, and then you can change your course. Nature has decided it no longer wants to move in the direction of Cold, but wants to head to Warmth. However, it moves a little deeper into Cold as it slows its trajectory, even as the seed of Warmth is planted and sprouts. This is also a good lesson to remember for living in a day when instant gratification of the Digital Age and snap decisions are so routine and are often required. Take time to pause now and throughout the year. It’s much easier to change your course at 5 miles per hour than at 50.
So over the next few weeks, as the days begin to get longer and the weather hints at Spring, take some time to embrace Winter. Find time for naps and go to bed early. Meditate quietly. Eat well and keep warm. Prepare your body for the bursting energy of Spring by recharging your body’s batteries in Winter. The good you do for your body now will show all year long.
Yours in health,
Winter Health Tips
My first tip has absolutely nothing to do with Winter. Ha! It’s more of a New Year kind of project. It’s called a Gratitude Jar. Get yourself a large mason jar with a screw top, a nice pen or marker, and some small pieces of paper (feel free to repurpose used paper to go easy on the trees). Each day, add a slip of paper with something you are thankful for. You can also recount happy moments or include inspiring quotes. When you’re feeling blue, pick one out and read it for a little lift. Be sure to replace any you remove with something new. Whatever is left inside can be a New Year’s Eve treat in December 2013. The work we do in Winter will benefit us all year long.
Winter is the season associated with the bones in Chinese medicine, so this is the season to care for them. One way to nourish the bones is to eat bone broth. I have a blog post about bone broth which you should definitely check out. Vegetarians should read my post about a vegetarian alternative to bone broth. Bone broth and its vegetarian cousin provide essential minerals that help strengthen bones and nourish the digestion for better absorption and assimilation of nutrients.
Winter is obviously the season of Cold. It is also the season of the Kidneys. We should eat with three things in mind to benefit the Kidneys and fend off the cold: emphasize gently warming spices (ginger and cinnamon, not cayenne and chile peppers), eat foods that nourish the Kidneys (beans, root vegetables, seaweeds, dark leafy greens, and walnuts), and eat foods that are very dark in color (black is the color of Winter in Chinese medicine), like black sesame seeds, blueberries, beets, and black beans. It is also the time to avoid frozen or cold foods in general.
Since Winter is a season of stillness, now is the time to change our exercise habits for the time being. Instead of heavy sweating and intense exercise, try Tai Chi (Taiji) and Qi Gong, gentle yoga and walking meditation. In fact, all kinds of calm and centering meditation will be additionally beneficial in Winter. If you need to do heavier exercise than this, try Pilates or swimming as they focus on fluid movements that are less hard on the joints.
In other news…
I recently published my first mini-book, The Anti-Inflammation Diet. I hesitate to use the word diet because that implies weight loss to me. This is more of an dietary philosophy and lifestyle, a way of eating that focuses on eating whole foods as a means of restoring health and wellness. This book reflects my studies of Chinese medicine, research on Western nutrition, and the study of the work of Weston A. Price. Following this diet reduces inflammation in the body by removing common irritants that can exacerbate conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, auto-immune diseases, coronary artery disease and fertility issues, to name a few.
Patients are welcome to a copy of the book when they come for an office visit. People who are not patients may purchase a copy for $10 by contacting the clinic at (212) 863-9223.
I have also uploaded 4 great free pamphlets to my website:
- Foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
- Foods that are rich in Calcium (focusing mainly on non-dairy sources)
- Foods that are rich in Vitamin D
- 5 foods to improve wellness
You can find these pamphlets on my blog. They are available through subscription to my newsletter. For those already subscribed to my newsletter who would like to receive any of these pamphlets, please reply to the most recent newsletter you received to ask for copies to be emailed to you directly. Otherwise, just follow the instructions in the blog posts.
Dylan Stein Acupuncture
About the Clinic
Dylan Stein Acupuncture is located at 303 Fifth Avenue at 31st Street in midtown Manhattan. I see patients from Tuesday through Friday by appointment only. The clinic is two blocks from the B, D, F, M, N, Q, R and 6 subway lines and the PATH train.
Men’s Health – This ranges from male factor infertility to prostate issues to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Dermatology – Acne, psoriasis, eczema, shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia, and tinea are the most common skin conditions I treat. Any dermatological condition is best treated by combining acupuncture with herbal medicine. Results will be seen faster and last longer, often needing no further treatment after intensive therapies for 6-9 months.
Pain Management – Helping people in pain is a huge part of any acupuncturist’s practice. I see every type of pain from sciatica and back pain patients to frozen shoulder to carpal tunnel to TMJ.
Almost all of my patients receive acupuncture, though some chose to use herbal medicine alone. I use two different systems of acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine and Master Tung’s family lineage. Master Tung’s style of acupuncture is rarely taught in the West, and was a secret lineage passed from father to son through the Tung family until about 60 years ago. I also use cupping, moxibustion and Tuina massage as part of my acupuncture treatments.
Herbal medicine is one of my great loves in life. I have seen extraordinary things happen when patients are using herbal medicine to support their acupuncture treatments. I firmly believe that herbal medicine is of the utmost importance for treating skin conditions (http://dylansteinacupuncture.com/dermatology-acupuncture-chinese-medicine/) , and will very rarely treat without it. This is only marginally less true for treating men’s health concerns (http://dylansteinacupuncture.com/mens-health-acupuncture-herbal-medicine/) and chronic pain conditions (http://dylansteinacupuncture.com/acupuncture-pain-management/) . Acute pain conditions respond better to the topical application of herbal formulas rather than internal ones. Chinese herbal medicine does take some getting used to with our Western palates being what they are, but it’s well worth the change.
For people trying to stop addictive behaviors, like quitting smoking, I am offering a special detox acupuncture package. I use a nationally-approved ear acupuncture protocol that I can administer while you sit in a chair. Treatments last about 30 minutes, and are very relaxing. Treatments will noticeably calm jitters and a racing mind, so that you can focus on your recovery instead of the behavior you’re trying to avoid. Treatments are offered up to 3 times per week as part of this package.
I am in-network provider for Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield and an out-of-network provider for Aetna, Cigna and Oxford/United. You will either pay a specialist co-pay or coinsurance at the time of the visit. Before coming in for an appointment, we have to confirm your benefits. You can reply to this email with your name, date of birth, insurance company name, member ID, and group ID, or you can visit the Contact page (http://dylansteinacupuncture.com/contact/) on my website to get in touch with me, to have your benefits checked. I strongly prefer confirming eligibility by email (mailto:email@example.com?subject=Checking%20insurance%20benefits) instead of by phone.
Make an Appointment
You can book appointments online through my website, dylansteinacupuncture.com (http://www.dylansteinacupuncture.com/) on the Appointments page (http://dylansteinacupuncture.com/appointments-at-dylan-stein-acupuncture/) . The online calendar system makes it easy to compare my schedule to yours, so you can find an appointment that works for you. You’ll also get an email confirmation so you won’t forget about your appointment. Of course, you can still call the clinic if you prefer to make an appointment over the phone. The clinic phone number is (212) 863-9223.
For more about Dylan’s favorite topics, like acupuncture, herbal medicine, healthy living, New York City and parenthood, follow:
Dylan Stein on Google+
On Twitter @Citypuncture
Or on Facebook on the Dylan Stein Acupuncture Page