By Danisha Bogue, L.Ac. - January 15, 2024
Categories: General

As the seasons change, so does our mood and energy. For some, the winter blues can deepen into a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. In the realm of Traditional Chinese Medicine there are profound insights and remedies for alleviating the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Let’s explore how Traditional Chinese Medicine can bring light into the darker days of the year. 

So what is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, often aptly abbreviated as SAD, is a form of depression that typically occurs during the fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter. The lack of light can disrupt your internal clock – influencing melatonin and serotonin levels in your body which affect sleep and mood.

What are the symptoms of SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is more than just feeling blue or lacking energy on cold winter days. SAD involves persistent depression symptoms such as: 

  1. Feeling sad, angry, or easily irritable 
  2. Mood swings
  3. Low energy
  4. Craving carbohydrates (leading to weight gain)

So what does Traditional Chinese Medicine have to say about it? 

Traditional Chinese Medicine views Seasonal Affective Disorder through the lens of disrupted energy flow and imbalance. Having good health requires that the various energies in your body be in balance, including Yin and Yang energy. Winter is associated with Yin energy – darkness and stillness – so the season can lead to an excess of Yin energy. To treat this, Traditional Chinese Medicine seeks to restore your balance by incorporating more Yang elements into your life during the cold and dark months of the year. 

That makes sense… How do I do that?

There are a few ways that Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends restoring your balance: 

  • Light and Color Therapy

Since lack of sunlight in winter is a large part of the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder, making an effort to get more natural light exposure can go a long way in making you feel better. Try to get some unfiltered sunlight in the morning and late afternoon to help keep your sleep cycle on track. If you can’t get unfiltered sunlight (not through a window or windshield), you can get lamps designed for Seasonal Affective Disorder to help as well. Incorporating warm, vibrant colors into your surroundings can help lift your mood as well!

  • Herbs to Chase Away the Cold

Herbal remedies play a big role in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Warming herbs like ginger and cinnamon are believed to invigorate the body’s internal heat, providing comfort and alleviating the symptoms associated with cold and stagnation which can contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

  • Acupuncture for Energy Flow

Acupuncture is one of the foundational practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and involves inserting thin needles into specific points along the body’s meridians. This helps to stimulate the flow of Qi (your body’s vital energy), and alleviate blockages contributing to SAD symptoms.

  • Mindful Movement

Gentle, flowing exercises like yoga, Tai Chi, and even walks promote the smooth flow of energy throughout the body, helping to dispel stagnation and enhance overall well-being. I know it can be really hard to get moving when it’s cold and dark, but start small and you’ll definitely see the difference!

  • Dietary Adjustments

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the foods we eat contain specific kinds of energy which can influence our internal balance. During the winter months, warming foods like soups, stews, and herbal teas can provide comfort and provide comfort and promote internal warmth. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn’t have to ruin your winter. Traditional Chinese Medicine, with its emphasis on balance, energy flow, and holistic healing, offers a multifaceted approach to alleviating the symptoms associated with SAD. By embracing acupuncture, herbal remedies, mindful movement, and lifestyle adjustments, you can bring a touch of warmth and light into every season of your life.  

Be well.



This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to the use of this product if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications or have a medical condition. Individual results may vary.