In Chinese Taoist thought, water is representative of intelligence, wisdom, flexibility, softness, stamina and endurance. In the same way, water can be fluid and weak, but can also wield great power when it floods and overwhelms the land.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) each season belongs to a particular element and has unique characteristics. Water is associated with winter and it is the best season to slow down and conserve energy. According to TCM entering the “winter hibernation” it’s essential to replenish vital resources that have been used throughout the year.
It is still winter season so are just right on time to share ancient wisdom with you! In this article we will be talking about the role of water in the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as its outlook on hydration and maintaining your body in balance throughout the year.
First of all we should introduce you to the concept of “five elements”. The ancient Chinese philosophers looked to the natural world in order find a way of describing the general principles of the universe. They discovered that pretty much anything in the world could be broken down into five energy types, which they called the Five Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.
It is important to note that each element is not only related to a season but it has attributes such as emotion, color and organ. According to TCM, winter is ruled by the water element, as it stores much of people’s reserves of energy which also explains why rest is so crucial in the winter. This time of year, over-work and lack of sleep easily deplete the water element and the kidneys.
Black, blue and grey colors
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), emotions are considered expressions of energy. All emotions are considered to be normal and healthy, it is only when they become extreme or uncontrollable that they can open the door to disease. TCM believes them to be the major internal cause of disease within the body. TCM recognizes five basic feelings that are each associated with a corresponding element: the emotion associated with the water element is fear.
Emotions in TCM have slightly different meanings than their Western interpretations. In TCM fear is considered a normal and at times inevitable emotion. However, if it becomes chronic, or settles as a deep anxiety, the kidneys can be affected. The kidney’s ability to hold Qi may be impaired, and involuntary urination can also occur.
Elements are also associated with a corresponding body organ: water is associated with the kidneys and bladder. The Kidneys are the source of all the Yin and Yang energy in the body, they govern the endocrine system, receive air from the lungs and store essence. Dysfunction of the Kidneys leads to deficiencies of Yin or Yang. The Bladder stores and removes fluid from the body. Imbalance of the Bladder leads to frequent or uncontrolled urination.
Which element are you?
There are a little bit of all five elements in each of us, but some sources claim that each person has a dominant element and this is said to be our Five Element Type. For example, if you are water personality people are able to go with the flow but they also have a strong will and get things done. They are known for their determination and are often described as self-contained or self-sufficient. Water Types are more adaptable and achieve their aims by determining the best path through a situation. The season of the Water Element is winter when quietness and stillness reign and the Water Types reflect this by seeking out solitude and tranquility. When water types are out of balance they are prone to dark rings under the eyes. Since the emotion associated with water is fear and when out of balance the water type can be fearful, timid, and indecisive.
To check out which element are you, we recommend this article:https://www.yinovacenter.com/blog/what-type-are-you-the-five-elements
Source: Hopper Acupuncture and Herbs
TCM perspective on hydration
TCM provides a much more comprehensive view on human body than the western medicine. In the view of Chinese medicine water alone is insufficient for hydration and the role of hydration reaches beyond the drinking hot water alone. HOW MUCH water and fluids we consume are important but also WHEN we consume them, their TEMPERATURE,the IMPACT OF FOODS we consume -all of these are also taken into consideration.
The temperature at which water is consumed is as important as the volume. Drinking cold water and fluids is a very damaging dietary convention. The job of our stomach with its digestive fire- that hot, hydrochloric-acid bath, is to cook our food, to ripen and rot it. When that biological fire is quenched with cold fluids, digestive functions might not work well.
Likewise the timing of fluids consumption has an effect on the digestive process. Drinking water and warm fluids between meals is the ideal time to take on fluids. Large amounts of water and fluid before and during a meal are bad for you because they dissolve the acid in the stomach and the enzymes in the small intestine making them less effective in breaking down food. Eating lots of vegetables with their high water content could be a good way to ensure sufficient fluid intake during a meal. Here are some tips to help support your kidneys and keep your water element in balance:
· Start your day with a cup of warm water.
· Fill up your bottle and start drinking gradually through the day, small sips, taste your water and drink when you are thirsty. Stick to room temperature water.
· Do you think water is boring? Add 12 Gou Ji berries, mint or lime slices. Spices that help with movement of water through the body like Ginger, Cinnamon can also be added.
· Avoid alcohol and coffee as they promote surination and lead to dehydration. Sugar and sweets also soak up the water inthe body.
Exercise to sweat. Working out helps move the water through your body.
Eat hydrating foods such as veggies and fruits, which also deliver great amounts of water to your daily diet.
Consider your water source
as one last note
Drink filtered water when you can! Chlorine and certain chemicals found in tap water are known to disrupt the endocrine system. This doesn’t mean you must purchase bottled water, just make sure to filter the water you use during majority of your day. Carry a reusable water bottle with you whenever you go to make sure you stay hydrated!
Remember, we can help you with the filter in case you don’t have one yet! Stay hydrated and healthy!