Winter Season and Digestion

By BHP Education Specialist Samaya Cullerton

The winter season is considered in traditional Asian medicine, the yin within yin. The attributes of yin are femininity, darkness, coldness, introspectiveness, quiet, calm and slowness. During this time, even our modern world slows down for the winter holidays. From the place of utmost yin, the transformation to yang begins to grow. From the shortest day of winter, the days begin to grow brighter again. Many people take time off work during the holidays to be with family and friends. Winter has been a time of celebration for many of us. In my personal home, we celebrate three birthdays, Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, and the New Year all within the month of December. It’s a wonderful, sweet, busy, exhausting time. After all the lovely time with family, I’m ready to get back to work! I’m done eating so many indulgent foods, I’m ready to feel healthy, balanced and I’m motivated to get my body moving. Many people have made resolutions for the New Year, feeling emboldened or motivated to improve their lives in some way. To support this energy which naturally rises in people’s bodies and spirits this time of year, we look to mother nature for some pearls of wisdom.

From fertile, living soil spring flowers grow with the help of rain and winter snow. We can consider our own living microbiome our fertile soil. The bacteria that symbiotically live in our gut play a big role in our digestion and immune function. Many people indulge in sweet, rich foods, overeating, consuming alcohol and often pairing that with some stress over the holidays, which can really throw off our digestive capabilities. When our digestive function is impaired it can wreak havoc systemically, affecting the liver, the gallbladder, the immune system (this includes autoimmune disorders), the respiratory system, the skin, the gyno-urinary systems, the endocrine system, as well as having a big effect on our mental health. A healthy functioning digestive system, for good reason, is often considered the root of good health in traditional Asian medicine.

At Benedictine Healing Products we make several formulas to support the digestion in the many expressions of different people’s bodies. Holiday Bitters is an elegantly crafted formula with over forty herbs and honey. The flavor is complex, aromatic, floral, sweet, citrusy, bitter in a dynamic, delicious, and herby way. The traditional uses for these herbs warm the digestive fire, strengthening its capacity. Bitters stimulate our own innate secretions and digestive enzymes, to break down and assimilate nutrients efficiently. Some of the aromatic herbs are used to increase the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system, increasing again our ability to rest and digest the food we eat. Holiday Bitters are traditionally used to increase digestive function, reduce appetite, but also increase energy, overall vitality, and improve mood.

The other formula I’d love to talk about this month is Xiao Yao Plus. This formula considered by many a traditional Women’s health formula and it is, but it is also so much more. Xiao Yao Wan, the traditional Chinese formula which Xiao Yao Plus is derived, is often recommended for people who exhibit the symptoms of IBS, such as alternating between constipation and diarrhea, digestion being affected by mood, and stress levels. This formula is given to people to support the free flow of qi. The free flow of qi enables people to breathe freely and deeply, it allows fluids such as urine, blood, menstration, hormones and emotions to flow freely and easily. When we have obstruction on the free flow of qi, we feel bloated, feel different types of pain, have labored breathing, cramping, and blockages. Xiao Yao Wan is a therefore a widely used traditional formula, for symptoms ranging from digestive disruption, pain, hormonal balance, mood and sleep disruption. This formula is considered a harmonizing formula, meaning it assists in your body’s innate ability to come into homeostatic balance. This is my go to formula for digestive disruptions caused by stress.

I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of our favorite digestive formulas. For a full list of digestive formulas and all out products check out our website. Happy New Year from the Benedictine team!

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