cold and flu

Winter Newsletter

Synergy Acupuncture & Wellness' Winter Newsletter!

Synergy Acupuncture & Wellness

Celebrating Winter & the Year of the Water Snake

Hello

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It is incredible to me that we already find ourselves in the second month of the 2013!  For those of us who never got around to setting a resolution or who have already fallen off the wagon despite the best of intentions, the Lunar New Year is the perfect time to recommit yourself to your goals for the year, or to set new ones.  This Lunar New Year finds the Fire Dragon yielding to the Water Snake.  These two zodiac signs are inextricably intertwined as the Snake's Yin strives to balance the Dragon's Yang of the previous year.  So it is within each of us, the struggle to find balance between action and stillness, work and play, caring for others and caring for ourselves.  The image of the snake can be especially useful for all of us on our journey towards our better selves.  As the snake sheds its skin, so can we shed those things which no longer serve us or which hold us back.  This allows us to grow more fully towards our potential.  So, take a moment to reflect on the past year with its ups & downs.  Set your intention towards letting go of those things which are holding you back from being more present and open to your loved ones and the opportunities around you.  We wish you a peaceful & prosperous New Year!

Winter, the season of the Water element    Here in New England, early February is usually the time of year we find ourselves knee-deep in snow, bundled up to our eye balls against the cold.  Mother Nature seems to have decided that we are in need of a bit of excitement this year with a wild weather roller coaster ride, offering us some brief tastes of spring before plunging us back into the cold of winter and, in the coming hours, sending us a bounty of snow.  All of which seems appropriate as the element associated with Winter is that of Water.

Water is a unique element.  It can take many forms from fog to rain to snow or ice.  It has the ability to be calm & reflective, fluid & yielding or hard & impenetrable.  No matter what the form, water has great power for change whether slow and subtle or sudden and violent.  It can carry us gently to our next destination, nourish us with it's calm, thrill us by awakening the child within or fill us with fear at its power.  Sometimes, it forces us to stop in our tracks or other times wipes everything away leaving behind only a clean slate on which we must begin again.

Winter is also associated with the energy of the Kidneys.  The Kidneys supply us with our deepest energy (Jing), which we are given at birth and fuels us throughout our life.  As water is required for continued life, so is the energy of the Kidneys.  When we over-work ourselves or dwell too much upon our anxiety & fears, we deplete this energy.  As a river that has too many demands on its supply slowly dries up and eventually is unable to reach the ocean, our supply of Kidney energy is not inexhaustible.  No matter how much we might wish otherwise.  However, it can also be replenished.   Care must be taken to allow ourselves time to rest, recover and restore ourselves from life's demands and Mother Nature's wisdom calls all creature to do that this time of year.

The emotions associated with the Kidney energy are fear and wisdom.  Fear, when the Kidney energy is out of balance, can make us freeze as water into ice, unable to move, imprisoned and unable to interact with the world around us.   However, when the water element is in balance, this fear transforms into wisdom.  It is this wisdom which gives us the will to move forward and adapt to the ups & downs of life in the same fashion that the river moves decisively towards the sea, always finding a path around whatever obstacles lie in front of it.

For many of us in the northeast, winter is a time for hibernation.  A time when many of us do our very best imitation of a bear, eating lots of comfort food and hunkering down in our dens waiting quietly for the warmth of spring to rouse us from our slumber.   This doesn't mean that this is not also a time of activity, however.  Rather, that the activity which was previously outward has turned inward to its deepest reaches.  Winter is a time for reflection & contemplation, the work of our inner selves.  A time for planning the year ahead from a place of calm and quiet.  A time when seeds, deep in the earth garner their strength in preparation for the activity of spring.  

So take season of Winter and Water to reflect and cultivate the fluid, adaptable aspect within you so that it can carry you through the rest of the year and give you the will and determination to achieve your goals.

And by all means, take some time to indulge your inner child and go out to play in the snow!

News Corner:

Each issue we will pass along recent articles or research to our readers.  So, feel free to let us know if you read anything you would like us to pass on!A

cupressure for flu season

  - A quick way to boost your immunity this flu season

Penelope Cruz's Ear Bling

 - Ms. Cruz was photographed with a set of press balls in her ear, leading one reporter to give auricular acupuncture a try herself

Deals & Steals:

Give the gift of health to your Valentine:  Gift certificates are available for purchase to treat that special someone Refer a friend and you'll also get 20% off your next visit!  Double happiness!

Cold & Flu Season: Tips & Tricks

With Flu season in full swing, it is a terrific time to consider all the ways in which we can help ourselves stay healthy.  One of my favorite tips comes from my father-in-law, a retired surgeon.  When asked how he managed to stay so healthy when he spent so much time around sick people he replied "Wash your hands frequently & keep your fingers out of your nose."   

  • Hand washing:  Whether it is with soap & water or hand sanitizer, this is still the number one cold preventative.
  • Bundle up:  In chinese medicine, it is believed that pathogenic qi (i.e. colds, etc) can slip past our body's defenses when it is exposed to the elements.  So while it may be macho to see who can wear shorts the furthest into winter, think of it as an open invitation for the passing cold to come for a visit.
  • Zinc:  If you start to feel a cold coming on, increase your intake of Zinc.  Products such as Zicam (or the generic equivalent) have concentrations of Zinc which have been scientifically shown (http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD001364/zinc-for-the-common-cold) to reduce the length of a cold by inhibiting viral replication.   Even if your cold is already in full swing, adding Zinc to your cold treatment regimen will still help give the virus the old heave-ho and have you back on your feet sooner.  As a preventative, making sure Zinc supplementation has also been shown to reduce cold frequency.
  • Food as medicine:  When a cold is coming on or has already taken hold, increase the amounts of garlic, onion, ginger & cinnamon in your diet.   All are considered to be warming foods which "release the exterior.  In other words these foods open the door so your immune system's "bouncers" can kick that cold to the curb.  Put them into a nice brothy soup and not only will you feel warmed up from the inside out, but you'll keep away any vampires that might be in the neighborhood.
  • Acupressure:  Check out the article in our News section for some handy self-care acupressure points to help boost immunity
Recipe corner

Recipe Corner

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Simple Winter Congee

adapted from TheCulinaryLife.com Congee, or rice porridge, is a staple in Asian households and a perfect meal to warm up a winter's day.  This recipe can be used as a base to create your own tasty soup.  Made in a slow cooker or on the stove, you can set it up and have a wonderful warm bowl to welcome you in from the cold.

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup short-grain or glutinous rice (which is gluten-free)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 4-8 cups water
  • 1 2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 small head of bok choy, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt + more to taste
  • 4 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sauteed garlic

Recipe method:

1. Soak mushrooms in enough hot water to cover them. Once they are soft, discard water, drain mushrooms and remove the stems. Chop coarsely and set aside. 2. Rinse rice once and set aside. 3. In a medium saucepan, bring stock to a boil over high heat. Once the stock is boiling, add rice and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to very low, allowing to gently simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary to create a creamy consistency. 4. After 30 minutes, add mushrooms, ginger, carrots, and bok choy. Let cook for another 60 minutes, continuing to add water and stir occasionally. You’ll need to stir and scrape the bottom of the pot every few minutes to keep from burning. 5. Once you’ve got a nice, creamy consistency and most of the rice grains have melted away into the stock, salt to taste. Serve hot in individual bowls, garnished with minced scallions and sauteed garlic.