We are into the Li Dong (立冬) solar terms (节气) starting from the 08 Nov to 21 Nov 2023. Li Dong is the 19th Solar Term out of the entire 24.
As the saying goes, “立冬补冬”. It means this is the time of the year to strengthen your immune system to prepare for the cold (or cooler) year-end (depending on where you live).
I remember when I was little, my mom would tell us that today is 补冬 so we must eat/drink some herbal stuff/soup. Many people believe that when they eat tonic on this day, they will not need to take any tonic for the rest of the year.
In this post, I will share what kind of tonic you can consider and some general well-being tips to take care of yourself and your loved ones during this Li Dong solar term.
In this solar term, the main direction of consuming tonic should be – 填肾精，固根本. It means to strengthen your kidneys and fill it with good essence so that your immune will be strong.
From the TCM perspective, if the kidney is deficient, it will affect bone density, immunity, and ear listening ability. Thus, this is a good time for us to build our immunity and give our kidneys a good treat!
Having said the above, it doesn’t mean everyone to start going out and buying ingredients for ShiQuan soup (十全大补汤) or Ginseng/Cordeceps soup. These heavy qi-boosting tonic might not be suitable for everyone.
Thus, I want to recommend the following gentle kidney qi/essence-boosting foods that you can consider eating during this solar term (which is suitable for most people):
Walnuts – Helps to boost kidney qi. It can also help to relieve back pain and knee pain. Walnuts are easily available and can be consumed as snacks.
Chinese Chestnuts – Known as 栗子. It not only strengthens kidney qi, but it also helps to strengthen the spleen. Nowadays there are Chinese chestnut snacks available that you can eat immediately after opening the packaging.
Black Beans – Black beans are an ideal food for people with weak kidneys and spleen. They have the additional benefits of dispersing blood clots and improving blood circulation. It can be added to rice and cooked together or added to any soup (especially soups that enhance blood circulation).
Black Sesame – Black sesame can also be used for relieving constipation on top of its kidney and liver-strengthening properties. An easy way of eating black sesame is to apply the black sesame paste to the bread for breakfast.
Goji Berries – Similar to black sesame, goji berries have great benefits to the eyes and ears because it has liver and kidney-strengthening properties. Goji berries are very flexible when it comes to including them in your diet. You can add them to your drink, tea, or soup!
People Who Are Not Suitable to Eat Tonics During This Period
Not everyone is suitable to consume tonic during this solar term. If a person is having flu or feels uncomfortable when the wind blows on him/her or is feeling under the weather, then eating a tonic at this time will make things worse. It is better to fully recover from the flu before consuming tonic foods/soups.
General Well-Being Tips
Besides eating tonic, another very effective way to boost your immunity during this period is to get enough sleep.
Li Dong is one of the solar terms that is suitable for sleeping early and waking up a bit late (not waking up at lunchtime!).
Getting enough sleep during this Li Dong solar term is sometimes even more important than eating tonic. So make sure you go to bed earlier and wake up a bit later (if possible).
Another thing to watch out for is not to exercise vigorously, especially during the early morning. Do your best to exercise only when the morning sun is out. If the morning sky is still dark, you can choose to do some light exercise indoors instead.
I hope you find this post useful!