Blog : Seasonal
Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year falls on January 28th this year. This is the year of the Yin Fire Rooster which is the Yin to the Yang of the Fire Monkey of 2016. If you recall from last year's Chinese New Year post, the year of the Fire Monkey was predicted to be, well, unpredictable, and it certainly lived up to that.
According to Lillian Pearl Bridges, an internationally recognized Five Element Feng Shui expert, “the Yin nature of the Rooster forecasts a calmer year and should bring a lot of relief from the shock, strain, tension and anxiety of last year. Many of the same issues are still around, but most new events will happen in a milder way. Much of what has to be dealt with will be repercussions from what has already happened. Plus, the consequences of some big decisions made in the Monkey Year will be revealed. One of the Rooster’s main jobs is to crow at the rise of the Sun, waking others up to face the challenges of the day. This Rooster is trying to wake people up to the challenges of the year! ”
Happy New Year!
The holidays are here and we found these clever ideas from from The Nourishing Cook to make gifts from the heart that convey a sense of appreciation to a friend or family member. Holiday gatherings can be a fun time to make real food gifts and crafts, including baked goods, nuts, soup kits, candles and coasters. The food gift recipes are from Nourishing Traditions, one of our favorite cookbooks.
In Chinese Medicine we often use the seasons to help diagnose and treat imbalances in the body, thus we pay particular attention to the seasons as they relate to the Chinese Almanac called the Tong Shu. Of all the seasonal transitions during the year the one from Summer to Autumn might be the most important one to watch. How our body transitions during this seasonal adjustment will help us prepare for a healthy Fall and Winter.
This period is a pivot in the calendar, from the active yang energy of Spring and Summer to the subdued yin energy of Autumn and Winter. Summer is the most yang, which means it is the season with the most heat, and in humid climates like the Southern United States, the dampest -- and we in the South know how humid, heavy and sticky the air can become. It is this combination of heat and dampness that we need to manage during this time so it does not negatively affect our health in the coming months. The heat can aggravate existing chronic heat conditions like insomnia, heart irregularities and inflammatory conditions such as eczema, dental infections, yeast infections, herpes, skin rashes. If not properly addressed, these conditions can become even more set in.
As the damp heat of Summer begins to meet the seasonal quality (Qi) of Fall, the dampness begins to be pulled upward and outward. Look at the beautiful thunderhead (cumulonimbus) clouds that form this time of year as the mornings start to cool off again. As fall approaches the air will cool and dry and get more and more nippy as we head into Fall. In the body, the late Summer is associated with digestion, the spleen, pancreas and stomach, and the Earth element. The spleen system transforms everything that we eat and drink into energy, fluids and blood. It is considered key to making blood through its function of extracting the nutrients from food, which it then sends to other parts of the body where the blood is made. The spleen is also responsible for transforming fluids in the body. In health, the transition into Autumn brings dryness that will transform extra dampness that has accumulated during the intense humidity of late summer. A feeling of heaviness as the energy and fluids slow down in anticipation of the dry and cooler months is normal during this time as we are preparing for the even slower moving winter months.. However, swollen legs, edema, poor lymphatic drainage, fatty tumors, diabetes, and obesity relate to the under performing Spleen/Pancreas functions of transforming the dampness that has settled in.
Moving into Fall and the Metal Element – Lungs and Large Intestine
In the Chinese Almanac, the transition into Autumn technically begins August 7th this year. While in the West, we typically consider Fall starting at the Fall Equinox in late September, the Chinese observed that the Equinox is the mid-point or apex of Fall. The Fall season is aligned with the Lungs and Large Intestine, which we call the Metal phase of the year. The Lungs take in the fresh Fall air, filling us with the oxygen we need to think clearly and nourish every cell in our body. The Large Intestine lets go of the waste that we don't need and eliminates it from our body. It is the last step in our digestive process.
In especially intense summers the last blast of heat and humidity can create a turbulent transition to the yin of coolness and dryness of Autumn. During the early Fall we may see winds pick up and there can be something of a clash between the intense yang heat that pulls humidity from the earth, and the cooler, drying winds of the Fall. This is a time when we tend to see tumultuous weather like hurricanes, tornadoes and typhoons. This year we've seen severe storms that have created flooding in many parts of our country. The unpredictability of the Autumn winds can be particularly troublesome. You may have heard us say to “cover your neck”, and this is one of those times to pay attention to the winds and take precautions to prevent illness. We often say in the clinic that the wind is the primary mechanism that deregulates our ability fight disease and scientists have been able to show that we are more susceptible to viral infection when our body temperature is lower and in the morning before the day heats up.
We frequently suggest getting outside to reconnect with nature as a way to become more grounded and ease emotional upsets. This poem sums it up beautifully.
The 2016 North American summer solstice happens on June 20, 2016 at 6:34 PM EDT. That’s the very moment when the sun stands still at its northernmost point as seen from Earth.
It waits for a brief second at the Tropic of Cancer before switching directions and heading south again. This is where the word solstice comes from; the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop). It’s the day of the year with the most sunlight, the longest of the long summer days. It is the most yang day of the year.
The summer solstice alone very special and is traditionally celebrated all over the world with festivals, bonfires, singing and dancing to mark the beginning of summer. And this year we also get a the bonus of a beautiful full moon, which hits its peak on the same day. This hasn’t happened in 70 years.
The June moon was known as the Strawberry Moon to early Native American tribes, which marked the season of strawberries. Step outside on the 20th at moonrise to enjoy the beauty of this year's Strawberry Moon and official beginning of Summer.
Summer, the Fire Season, is the most yang of the seasons. It is a time of lush growth, brightness, activity and heat, particularly in the South. In Chinese Medicine, fire is related to the heart, blood vessels, Small Intestine and the emotions (see the February post to learn more about the heart). The heart is in charge of memory, emotions, consciousness, thinking, sleep and speech.
When Fire is imbalanced, we see symptoms such as anxiety, despair, poor circulation, hypertension, heart palpitations, and insomnia. In nature, extreme heat withers and dries crops, creates drought and blazing forest fires, and we too can easily become overheated during the summer months. Here are our top 10 tips to keep your fire in check during the summer.
1. Water balances Fire – be sure to drink plenty of fluids during the summer, especially if you sweat a lot. With profuse sweating, you may also need to replace electrolytes. Good sources are coconut water (the unsweetened kind), and water with cucumbers or fresh watermelon juice.
2. Eat lightly and simply – Prepare recipes using few ingredients rather than heavy meals. Limit meat, eggs, excess nuts and proteins that deplete cooling yin and limit calcium absorption which is needed for proper heart function.
3. Align with nature – Visit your local farmers market to see what is in season and focus on including those ingredients in your meals. We have a great farmers market in Peachtree City, so be sure to check it out.
4. Include many brightly colored vegetables and fruits. Steam or lightly simmer vegetables and go easy on the salt. Some raw vegetables are okay, but don't overdo it with cold and raw foods because they weaken the digestive system.
Chinese New year begins February 8 and we thought it would be fun to share some of the traditions and legends that surround it.
Chinese New Year, as it is called in the West, is known as Spring Festival in China. It originated during the Shang Dynasty (about 17th - 11th century BC) and celebrates family reunion and the hopes for a rich spring. Different regions and different ethnic groups celebrate it in their own unique ways.
Spring Festival is the most important traditional festival and celebration for families in China. In fact, it is an official public holiday and most have the week off from work. It is a time for families to be together and people come home from wherever they are to celebrate the festival with their families. It is by far the busiest travel season of the year in China.
This year Chinese New Year begins on Monday, February 8, the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. The Chinese Lunar New Year always begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The year 2016 is represented by the Monkey, specifically the Red Fire Monkey (more about that later).
Home and family are the principal focus in the New Year preparation and celebration. To prepare for the holiday, homes are thoroughly cleaned to rid them of “huiqi,” or bad luck, which might have collected during the old year. People post scrolls printed with lucky messages on household gates and set off firecrackers to frighten evil spirits. In fact, many of the traditions carried out during this period are meant to bring good luck to the household and long life to the family.
There are many legends about the Spring Festival.
Get out your red paper lanterns and firecrackers and celebrate the Chinese New Year with this delicious recipe sure to bring you abundance in 2016 (read why in the Chinese New Year post). If nothing else, it will bring you an abundance of dinner guests once the aromas spread throughout your home!
Sea bass with sizzled ginger, chili & spring onions
- 6 sea bass fillets, about 5 oz. each, skin on and scaled
- 3 Tbsp sunflower oil
- large knob of ginger, peeled and shredded into matchsticks
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 fat, fresh red chilis, deseeded and thinly shredded
- 1 bunch spring onions, shredded longways
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
Season the fish with salt and pepper, then slash the skin 3 times.
Heat a heavy-based frying pan and add 1 tbsp oil. Once hot, fry the fish, skin-side down, for 5 mins or until the skin is very crisp and golden. The fish will be almost cooked through. Turn over, cook for another 30 secs-1 min, then transfer to a serving plate and keep warm. You may need to fry the fish in 2 batches.
Heat the remaining oil, then fry the ginger, garlic and chillies for about 2 mins until golden. Take off the heat and toss in the spring onions. Splash the fish with a little soy sauce and spoon over the contents of the pan.
We give thanks for our patients every day of the week, and at this time of year we reflect back on how blessed we are to be entrusted to provide our services to you. At the clinic, we frequently discuss what a pleasure it is to work with our patients and how thankful we are to have been trained in such an amazing medicine. We delight when our patients show progress, and we see difficult cases as an enjoyable challenge. We love every aspect of what we do and thank you for allowing us to serve your health care needs! As you enjoy your Thanksgiving holidays with family and friends, know that we are grateful that you are a part of our community.
Chinese Medicine Practitioners observed that when people carefully observe and adjust their actions according the seasons and natural environment, we stay healthier, happier and prevent disease. Each season has its own natural cycles and rhythms, and by conducing ourselves in accordance with these natural cycles we stay happy and balanced. In nature, bears hibernate during the cold and dark days of Winter. This is the time of year to slow down, reflect, replenish our energy, conserve our strength and prepare for the outburst of new life and energy in the spring.
Winter is ruled by the water element, which, as you might guess, is associated with the kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands. According to Oriental medicine, the kidneys are considered the source of all vital energy within the body, storing all of the reserve energy so that it can be used to prevent illness or used during times of stress when our body needs to heal.
The Kidney organ system supports the reproductive organs, regulates growth and regeneration, supports water metabolism and maintains homeostasis. The Yin aspect of the Kidneys also gives rise to the marrow, which produces the brain, spinal cord, bones, teeth, blood and hair. The Yang aspect kindles the metabolic process sending warmth and energy to every cell in the body. Of course this is dependent upon the adequate reserves of energy.
During the winter months, if we observe the natural rhythms of the season we nurture and nourish our very important kidney energy. It is the time when this energy can be most easily depleted so get to sleep early, rest well, stay warm, and expend a minimum quantity of energy. Think hibernation! If you are one of those people who love winter sports activities and everything that winter brings, just make sure you allow for ample rest in between outings and take these proper precautions!