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Winter blog at Vitality Garden Acupuncture

Living according to the season is one of the most important principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine for health and healing.

The different seasons affect both our physical and mental states, how you feel in Winter may differ from how you feel in Summer, as a practitioner this is something I like you to be mindful of.

Chinese Medicine originates from Taoist thoughts, thousands of years old. Taoism states the more we mirror nature, the healthier we will be. Sleep, food, and lifestyle choices should be gently tweaked each season to bring us into rhythm with the natural change. This will optimise energy levels and assist your central nervous system to establish a sense of calm. This is one of the reasons I offer seasonal acupuncture treatments, to help you move more smoothly through the seasons of the year.


Winter, and more specifically mid-winter is a deep Yin time. It is dark, cold, inward, internal, and a time of reflection, it is time for stillness and hibernation. It is hard to adapt our modern lives to the seasons, and especially hard in winter, however, it is important to find the appropriate balance for rest and repair to ensure we aren’t pouring from an empty cup or trying to pour from one overflowing. This restorative season encourages us to conserve our energy for the year ahead.

In Taoism Winter is aligned to the Water Element and Kidney Official (organ) representing intelligence, wisdom, and development. The Kidneys provide us with our power and in Western medicine is the root of our adrenal health. As the controller of fluids, the Kidney’s distributes our vitality through body, mind and spirit. It energises our internal organs and system functions such as fertility health, blood pressure regulation and bone health, and stimulates our consciousness, identity, and ambitions. As you can imagine it’s an organ I like to keep healthy.

So, how do we keep our Kidneys healthy? Good sleep, ideally going to bed before 10pm, avoiding stimulants, reducing sugar as it’s a stimulant that hits our insulin activating adrenals. Stress reduction is important as things like trying to do too much, working late, eating late also tax our adrenals.

How can I help myself you ask?

To keep ourselves healthy we want to guard against cold in Winter, external cold from the environment can penetrate the body and get stuck, causing contraction and obstruction. Internal cold comes from over consumption of cold food or liquids. Seasonal viruses create cold, so if you are affected, giving yourself time to rest and fight the virus is important, the body will need to raise its temperature to kill the pathogen. Finally, the emotion of fear can create internal cold as it causes us to contract, inhibiting our flow and free movement. If cold gets stuck internally it can become very uncomfortable and unhealthy both physically and mentally.

To help move cold from the body we need to keep warm, so lots of movement, keeping your feet & back warm will support the Kidney energy and blood flow through to the reproductive organs. The Kidney meridian begins on the base of the foot traveling all the way through your core, and its partner organ the Bladder travels through the back & neck. Socks and scarves are your best friend this season and ideally something that covers your Kidneys, cropped tops aren’t recommended in winter (sorry to those that love them).

What can I eat?

I don’t think it will come as a surprise that it is suggested to consume a largely warm diet in Winter, with warming soups & stews full of root vegetables and some protein. Warm water and cups of herbal tea are useful, especially ginger tea as it is warm in nature. Foods to help tonify the Kidney energy are saltier in nature, such as miso soup, seafood, nuts, beans and seeds.

Activate your Bubbling Spring!

Acupressure can stimulate your Kidney Meridian. Here’s a little acupressure guidance to support you through mid-winter to help activate your Bubbling Spring.

The Kidney Meridian starts with Kidney 1 located, appropriately, on the sole of your foot, from these Yin depths comes an outpouring of vitality from the point Bubbling Spring. A spring brings life, vitality and cleansing, its movement invigorates, replenishes, quenches thirst and fear and brings calm.

Stimulating this point will help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, clear the brain and help sleep. I recommend a little pressure or self-massage on this point to activate the Bubbling Spring which will bring emotional calm and enhance sleep. You can intensify the experience by using a carrier oil with a drop of lavender for relaxation, or bergamot for inspiration. I hope you enjoy the feeling it creates.

If you want to know more or have questions about anything in this article or want to book an appointment you can email me at


Leggett D, 1994, Helping Ourselves, A guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics. Meridian Press.

Pritchard P, 2002, Healing with whole foods, North Atlantic Books

Sterman A, 2020, Welcoming Food, Classical Wellness Press

Hatton LC, 2014, Acupuncture Point compendium

I think the whole nation is now wanting to see an end to Covid, to be able to get on with our lives and gain some normality. Luckily with the vaccines and the latest, less aggressive strain most people seem to be having a lot less symptoms. However, this winter (2022) I have seen more family and friends in Shrewsbury and across Shropshire be infected by Covid, so, in this blog I want to discuss long Covid, because, for some, the symptoms seem to linger, this could be you or your family or friends.

The UK Office of National Statistics has released data on the prevalence of long Covid symptoms. They estimate that 22% suffer symptoms for 5 weeks after and 10% for 12 weeks after.

Any patient with covid-19 may develop long Covid, regardless of the severity of their infection or the intensity of the treatment they received, patients with mild symptoms can also develop long Covid. The most seen symptoms are fatigue, breathlessness, cardio abnormalities, brain fog, lack of concentration and sleeplessness.

The ancient and continuous developed practice of acupuncture is one of many traditional medicines which at its core, aims to prevent disease. There is a growing and increasingly convincing body of evidence showing that acupuncture, together with movement such as yoga, tai chi, or qigong, can balance our immune systems. The emphasis is indeed on the word ‘balance’, which is specifically important in the context of Covid-19 where the immune system in some severely ill people causes a so-called ‘cytokine storm’, this overreaction of the immune system can and has led to patient deaths. An increasing number of studies show that acupuncture can modulate the immune system and in addition, has an anti-inflammatory action, particularly useful in cases of patients suffering from symptoms caused by the coronavirus. (Arranz 2007; Karst 2003; Karst 2010; Silvério-Lopes 2013; Pais 2014; Pavão 2010; Takahashi 2009; Wu 2016). These studies show that the levels of immune biomarkers, such as T-lymphocytes (CD3+, CD4+), NK cells, interleukins (for example IL8, IL17, IL2, IL 10) and macrophages change in an immune enhancing fashion. In other words, the studies have shown clear evidence that acupuncture increases the body’s ability to fight infections, while at the same time calming the body’s occasional but very detrimental tendency to overreact. In addition to these directly measurable markers, scientific studies have shown that acupuncture reduces chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and stress. It has been proven that these debilitating states of dis-ease have a clear and detrimental impact on our immune system. (MacPherson 2013; Hopton 2014; Smith 2018; Amorim 2018; Goyata 2016; Grant 2018; Chung 2018; Yin 2017)

As symptoms vary in type, intensity and duration, some people may not get the recognition and treatment they need, which will affect their mental as well as physical health. This applies particularly for non-hospitalised patients, who did not have severe respiratory problems and are assumed to have only a mild version of the disease that will clear up in a couple of weeks. (Mahase 2020)

In Traditional Acupuncture patients with multiple, chronic symptoms are treated using a holistic approach, helping to support their own self-healing capabilities to provide better sustained, overall improvement. This approach includes the positive effects on the immune system and inflammatory processes discussed above, which in turn may play a part in treating long Covid, just as they can in preventing infection. Treating people with long Covid to boost people’s resistance to future infection is a major goal for acupuncture in respect of Covid-19.

We are now starting to collect data measuring the effect of acupuncture on long Covid, although it is still too early for any results from clinical trials, we have already seen promising outcomes from individual cases treated by fellow members of the British Acupuncture Council. Many of the common symptoms seen with long Covid have been shown to respond to acupuncture in other contexts such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, COPD, heart arrhythmias and nausea.

Some GPs and physiotherapists are now referring their patients to Acupuncturists since they recognise the benefits of holistic acupuncture treatment. If you are struggling with long Covid and are looking for help call me, Sherrie, on 07967 275502 or visit my website at

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Cupping therapy seems quite popular with Olympic swimmers, we saw various competitors in the Tokyo games with dark circles on their bodies. This trend started with US swimmer Michael Phelps in Rio five years ago. But why? Here are my thoughts…

If you had been preparing for the Olympics for most of your life and then developed muscle stiffness and pain leading up to a race you would not want to use a drug treatment for fear of a drug test scandal, so why not use something that is drug free and nonintrusive? Systematic reviews on the effectiveness of cupping suggests it could be beneficial for muscle pain and strain. Swimmers are looking for a 100th of a second improvement, if cupping therapy can support that, why not use it, it might be the thing that makes all the difference.

What is cupping and what does it do? I treat by using plastic or glass cups on the skin, they hold in place by suction, and I take the air out with a manual sucker, which gives more control. The cup is left for up to 15mins and it can also be slightly released and moved in a stroking action which is very good for large muscle tightness, it is a little like massage, but the action is one of pulling not pushing encouraging the muscle to release and bringing blood to the area. These applications may result in local stretching and decreasing local stiffness. It is believed that the fresh blood supply may accelerate the elimination of metabolites, and this enhances recovery. A study published in The Journal of Traditional and Complimentary Medicine states there is converging evidence that cupping can induce comfort and relaxation on a systemic level and the resulting increase in endogenous opioid production in the brain leads to improved pain control. One such theory is known as the “pain-gate theory”, in which pain is inflicted so the brain “sends back the efferent, protective signal to the stimulated the perceived injured area”.

Cupping is commonly used globally with promising results on lower back pain, however, its efficacy is controversial due to a lack of high-quality studies evaluating the effects, mainly because studies have struggled giving the test group blind placebo treatment with no specific protocol.

Cupping therapy can be done as a stand-alone treatment, it can also be used in conjunction with an acupuncture treatment and has been used this way for many thousands of years. The picture shows cupping treatment signs on Kyle Chalmers, Australian Silver Medalist and the Japanese swimmer Akira Namba. These athletes have used the form of cupping as I have described, known as dry cupping.


Bridgett R. et al, Effects of cupping therapy in amateur and professional athletes: Systematic review of randomized controlled trials, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 24(3) (2018) 208-219

Abdullah M.N. et al, The medical perspective of cupping therapy: Effects and mechanisms of action, Complement Med. 2019 Apr; 9(2): 90–97. Published online 2018 Apr 30. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2018.03.003


Sixty Seconds on Cupping, BMJ 2021:374, (Published 30 July 2021)

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