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Health, Dr. Mao, Santa Monica

Dr. Mao’s Wellness Central: Be Well This Winter

Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Posted Nov. 23, 2011, 3:20 am

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

The weather is changing with the seasons, but people forget that they need to change along with the season, too. Winter is when everything experiences a slowing in natural processes and when most of nature sleeps. Although humans do not hibernate, our bodies do experience a proclivity to slow down and restore our energy. Resist the urge to run too many errands during the day and instead slow down and spend some time at home this winter.

During the cold winter months, people are more prone to colds, flu, poor circulation and seasonal mood disorders. Below are secrets to your winter health and longevity.

Reserve Your Energy

Limit your activities each day. Make a list and prioritize what needs to be done and focus on the top one or two things every day. At the end of the day, make room for some personal time so you can recharge your batteries. Be sure to take that time away from your emails, smart phones, and computers!

Avoid overexerting yourself with physical exercise that causes you to perspire a lot. Chinese Medicine views sweat as an escape of yang energy, and believes that you should instead engage in activities that create energy if you want to be in harmony with the season. So consider a more moderate exercise like tai chi or qi gong, which are effective in balancing your energy or walking to keep your energy up.

Sleep With The Sun

Many people do not get enough sleep on a daily basis and it is a very important part of restoring your energy and your health. Not only are you more productive when you have had enough sleep, your body also needs the rest. Following the sun’s cycle can help you to remember to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Go to bed early and wait till the sun is fully up before getting out of bed. Taking a 20 to 30 minute walk before bed will also help to improve your sleep.

Feel The Joy Of The Season

Although you might feel stuck inside, take that time to enjoy indoor activities with your family and friends or to indulge in the hobbies you have not had time for earlier in the year. So crack open that book, knit a new scarf, or fill the house with the smell of homemade food.

You can also fight the winter gloom with light therapy. Studies show that exposure to sunlight stimulates the pineal gland which is the gland that produces brain chemicals like serotonin, the mood chemical. This can also help to boost your immune system and fight away the cold or flu traveling around during the winter. So if weather permits, spend some time outside each day between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., with sunscreen of course, and let the light lift your moods and spirit.

Keep Yourself Warm

When you are headed outside during the winter, dress warmly. In Chinese medicine, the abdomen is the storehouse of the body’s energy and so you want to pay special attention to keeping your midsection covered and warm. Keeping your abdomen warm and protected from weather extremes has immense immunity benefits. For an extra energy boost, place a hot water bottle on your midsection and rest for a few minutes.

If you are still feeling the cold despite your warm attire, try Chinese herbs to help protect your energy and boost your immunity. Astragalus and ginseng are adaptogens and will help your body to resist any physical and environmental stress caused by winter. One herbal formula that contains astragalus is Immunity; this formula can aid in your body’s tolerance to the environment and also boost your immune system to help fight against the cold and flu season.

Keep Your Food Warm

Eat for the season and use locally grown organic foods that are harvested in the winter. Embrace a warming diet filled with iron-rich foods: broccoli, spinach, oats, sunflower or sesame seeds, lamb, garlic, scallions, and walnuts, to name a few. Making a hearty soup will help to keep you warm from the inside. For a tasty winter drink, try warm or hot water and teas.

May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at

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