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Complementary Corner

Dress for the Season

Renee Lehman

(3/2018) Here is an important thing to remember as we move from the end of winter into the beginning of spring: Dress for the season, not the weather.

Do you remember the week of February 18th when we had temperatures that ranged from lows in the 30s to highs in the mid 70s? It was unbelievable! Were you tempted to throw off your winter sweaters and heavy clothes, and wear something lighter, like a short sleeve shirt? Maybe you were tempted to go without a jacket. I hope that you did not do this, though. Why?

You may be anticipating the arrival of spring, and may even see the flowers such as, winter aconite, crocuses, and daffodils thrusting upward through the ground. The daylight is lasting longer each day, the birds begin a new song, and some days have temperatures hitting 70EF (just like in February). However, even with all of this change and the warmer days, winter is not over! Those warmer days, even though they felt like spring, are still a part of winter. Even though the temperature reads 70EF, the essence follows the season. What is the energetic essence of winter? Cold. Also, the energetic essence of early spring is cool.

Our body responds to the cold essence, not the temperature. So, wearing lighter clothing, short sleeves, shoes without socks, or not wearing a coat requires our bodies to use extra Qi (energy) to stay warm. In other words, we make our bodies work harder if we wear lighter clothing, than if we wore warmer, winter clothing. Thus, we waste some of the Qi that we have stored up by resting during winter.

Another way of thinking about this is just as new vegetation needs protection of a greenhouse in the early spring, our body’s Qi is a little too weak to resist the coldness of the external environment. Staying clothed and warm is necessary so that our Qi will be strong enough to help us move through spring into summer.

We also open ourselves up to catch a cold when we dress for the weather and not the season (as we move from winter into spring). What can you do when you feel a cold sneaking up on you?

Since Traditional Chinese Medicine uses food as medicine, ginger is a food that can help fight a cold. The following is a recipe for a hot ginger cinnamon tea. Ginger and cinnamon both warm your body. Ginger supports your Lung Qi, and its pungent taste helps to push your Qi to the surface of the skin, thus improving the immune system. The raw honey also strengthens your Lung Qi.

Hot Ginger Cinnamon Tea


  • 3 quarts water
  • ¾ cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • Raw honey, to taste

Directions: Bring water to a boil with cinnamon sticks and ginger. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Using a sieve, strain into cups and sweeten with raw honey, if desired.

After drinking this hot tea, consider taking a hot bath in which you generate a mild sweat. Then dress warmly, and go to sleep. When you wake up the next day, the cold could be gone!

Here are some tips to remember as we move from winter into spring:

• Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends that you take care of yourself to prevent colds in the first place. Get plenty of sleep, eat warming foods, and move gently from winter into spring. By supporting the body naturally, you help to create an environment that will not allow a "cold/flu bug" to enter your body.

• A Chinese Proverb, "Chun wu qiu dong" means "Bundle up in the spring and stay cool in the autumn." Dress for the season and not the temperature. Stay bundled up. Stay warm until spring has fully arrived and there are no major fluctuations in temperature.

• If you begin to feel a mild headache, chills, scratchy throat, and/or runny nose, consider drinking the Ginger Cinnamon Tea.

• Consider eating foods that are warming and can help you deal with the transition from winter into spring; such as, fennel, scallions, broccoli rabe, garlic, and dandelion.

"When you break a man-made law, you may go to jail.

When you break a natural law, you may go to a different type of jail --- it’s called a hospital." - Nan Lu, OMD

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn." - Hal Borland

Renee Lehman is a licensed acupuncturist and physical therapist with 30 years of health care experience. Her office is located at 249B York Street in Gettysburg. She can be reached at 717-752-5728.

Read other article on well being by Renee Lehman