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Winter Season- All About the Water Element

December 21st is the beginning of Winter in the Northern hemisphere. In the five-element theory of healing, the winter season is associated with the element of Water. This element represents the most yielding of all the elements; it will break down even the hardest rock over time and find the path of least resistance to move around any obstacle.

The gift of the Water element in a healthy state is that it can generate the persistence and vigilance to go through the darkest and most challenging of times. Winter is the associated season for this element, a time of resting and recharge, like the image of a quiet, calm lake.

Tips to Keep Healthy During Winter:

Taking Time to Replenish: Listen to your body and take time to replenish your reserves; winter is a time to recharge and take time to go within. Nourish Yourself: Nourish yourself with warm food and drink lots of water. Eat warming foods such as root vegetables, whole grains, and small amounts of meat or fish protein. Eating more beans, nuts, and tempeh if you are a vegetarian.

Keep Warm: Prepare for the weather, and dress accordingly. Chinese medicine says that the neck, shoulder, abdomen, and kidney areas contain the “Wind” points through which pathogens can enter, so keep these areas protected; keep yourself covered when out of doors.

Water is the most yin of all the five elements. The organ systems associated with the Water element are the Kidneys and Bladder, which rule water metabolism and maintain homeostasis.

Kidney (Yin Organ) - In Western medicine, the kidneys regulate water metabolism and stabilize the heart and blood pressure. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Kidney energy is also said to be responsible for healthy teeth, bones, and bone marrow. Because ancient Chinese medical scholars considered the brain and spinal cord to be extensions of the bone marrow, the Kidney is thought to rule over the skeletal structure and function and, consequently, over intelligence, reason, perception, and memory.

Bladder (Yang Organ) - The second organ associated with the water element is the urinary bladder, which Western medicine describes as a hollow sac with muscular walls and is connected to the kidneys by the ureters.

When the bladder is not functioning optimally, the entire system is in danger of congestion and filling up with toxic wastes. Symptoms of an imbalance in this organ can include depression, fatigue, or difficulty adapting to new circumstances.

Complaints Associated with Water Element Imbalances: As we age, we lose water, and our bodies begin to dry out, which can increase our bones and hair to become more brittle, our skin loses its elasticity, and our minds may lose their accustomed flexibility.

  • Lower back pain, chronic or acute.

  • Knee pain and weakness.

  • Bone and teeth issues.

  • Possible issues with urinary retention.

  • Fatigue and shortness of breath.

  • Vertigo or dizziness.

  • Loss of hearing.

  • Pain in the soles of the feet.

  • Sexual problems; can include lack of excitement, premature ejaculation, and vaginal dryness.

  • Anxiety and excessive fear.

  • High blood pressure or occipital headaches.

Emotions There are also emotions related to the five elements and their corresponding internal organs. Fear is the emotion associated with the Water element. Healthily, fear is an emotion that moves and directs us to remain alert and attentive to our surroundings and situation. When confronted with danger, constructive fear can guide us with a message of caution and restraint and fill us with a sense of readiness and courage to face whatever situation life might present.

When the Water element is out of balance, fear becomes an obstacle to movement. Water gives us the ability to listen deeply to ourselves. When this aspect is healthy, we engage in a robust response to life, neither running away (excess fear) nor by reckless attacking (lack of fear).

We would also like to share a few essential oils and two different applications that have WATER element characteristics; these include the essential oils of Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), Black Pepper (Piper nigrum), and Ginger (Zingiber officinale).

Pain Relief Blend

Makes 1 oz.

Combine the following ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Arnica Oil (Arnica montana)

  • 5 drops Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) - Increases immunity, tonifies blood, and reduces overall internal dampness.

  • 4 drops Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) - Warming increases chi (energy) and mental clarity, strengthens immunity and clears phlegm.

  • 3 drops Ginger (Zingiber officinale) - Warming and stimulating, it tonifies the yin organs.

Suggested applications: massage blend or shower salt scrub. Apply as needed to painful areas.

Cautions: DO NOT apply to wounds or cuts. DO NOT use in the bath. This blend of essential oils is NOT recommended for children.

Shower Salt Scrub

Makes 4oz.

Combine the following ingredients:

  • ½ cup of salt (Combination of fine grain Dead Sea Salt and sea salt.)

  • 2-3 TBSP. of organic Safflower Oil (Carthamus tinctorius)

  • 3 drops Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil

  • 3 drops Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) essential oil

  • 3 drops Ginger (Zingiber officinale) essential oil

Apply 2-3 times weekly in the dry shower before turning the water on. Apply a small amount at a time with long smooth movements along the natural lymphatic flow toward the heart.

Because salt does absorb, it is best to store it in a glass container if it will not be used immediately.

Cautions: DO NOT apply to newly shaved areas, on the face, cuts, wounds, or breast tissue. Do not use these essential oils directly in a bath because they can be skin irritating.

Are you interested in aromatherapy bath blends? See our BLOG on it's all about the Aromatherapy Bath.

May you enjoy a happy and healthy wintertime!

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