With the last Winter days upon us (all you other Summer sun bunnies are probably just as excited as me!) I thought it was a great time to share two herbs you can incorporate into your meals to help keep your body warm in Winter.

The first is Rou Gui, or Cinnamon, as you would know it.

Rou Gui is a warming herb that I often use in formulas for patients that need to be warmed up from the inside. They might have cold stagnated in their acupuncture channels, leading to pain, or perhaps dysmenorrhoea, which is period pain.

If you suffer from cold extremities in Winter, or other signs of cold in your body, you could try adding more cinnamon to your diet. I personally sprinkle cinnamon on my porridge every morning for breakfast in Winter, yet I don’t often use it in Summer. I’ve been very consistent with my Rou Gui breakfasts this year, and my hands and feet haven’t actually been as cold as they normally are.

The second herb is Sheng Jiang and Gan Jiang. The two names refer to whether it is fresh or dried. Fresh Ginger is Sheng Jiang, and Dried Ginger is Gan Jiang. They actually act on the body is two different ways, which may surprise you to learn.

Sheng Jiang (fresh) is used in what we call Wind Cold conditions. Think of that as a cold that includes symptoms of cold origin, like more chills than fever, no signs of infection, no sore throat. Having some fresh ginger when you present with those symptoms, can help to stop a cold cough, and it can also stop vomiting from a cold presentation as well.

Gan Jiang (dried) is used for more internal conditions, rather than Wind Cold conditions in the upper part of the body. For example, Gan Jiang can be used to stop uterine bleeding that is of a cold origin, with other symptoms such as cold limbs, feeling cold, pale skin, withdrawn.

These herbs are a perfect example of food as medicine, which is how the Chinese have always approached healthcare. This is why eating seasonally is so important. The foods available (and which usually appeal more at certain times of year) are designed to help our bodies withstand the seasonal fluctuations and reduce the likelihood of becoming sick or having unbalanced health.

The more I follow these principles in my day to day life, the healthier I feel. I’d like you to be able to enjoy these benefits too. In the past I created a download about Seasonal Eating which you can find below if you don’t already have a copy.

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Jue Zhou, Fan Qu. (2009) Treating Gynaecological Disorders with Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Review. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines.

Ali BH, Blunden G, Tanira MO, Nemmar A. (2008) Some phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): a review of recent research. Food and Chemical Toxicology.

Jaafarpour M, Hatefi M, Khani A, Khajavikhan J. (2015) Comparative effect of cinnamon and Ibuprofen for treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a randomised double-blind clinical trial. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.