Defeat winter blues with fire and common sense

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Winter Blues(NaturalHealth365) Are you feeling the winter blues? You’re not alone – with winter in full force – it is not uncommon to feel depressed. But, I’m not talking about the post-holiday season blues.

Depression is common in the winter because of reduced sunlight. Like many animals, our brains are stimulated by light, and reduced stimulation from the shortened days and gray skies of winter can result in a condition called Seasonal Affect Disorder, or SAD.

It’s clear that the cause of this lethargy and depression is lack of sunlight. Light therapy using high intensity lamps that substitute for sunlight is known to help. However, there is a more natural way to prevent and treat this sad condition.

You need to put the fire back in your life.

People have been using fire for hundreds of thousands of years. Fire provides fuel for cooking and heating. It provides light and security at night, and helps keep away wild animals. The smoke that fire releases, depending on what is being burned, can be medicinal or can repel insects. It can even be used to communicate with people far away. Fires also incinerate waste, and the ashes can be used as fertilizer.

All cultures everywhere used fire. For our great – grandparents the center of family life was the hearth. At night, stories were told around the fire. Adults and children would sit transfixed around the bright, cheerful blaze, the flickering light soothing the soul while the warm glowing embers melted the chill of winter.

In those days, people lived closer to nature. Moonlight and fire lit the night and warmed the heart.

However, for the past 100 years or so, people have moved to the cities. And like the dog they can’t take with them to the new apartment, they had to leave fire behind, too. As a result, people now experience a “fire deficiency”, and this can cause winter depression.

Why did the fire get such a bad name?

In crowded areas, fire can become a problem. Fuel becomes scarce. Smoke from many fires causes serious air pollution. And the hazards of fire getting out of control and starting a destructive blaze are real. All this makes alternative energy desirable in our modern, crowded, urban-oriented culture.

But it also means we have lost the fire in our lives and its light that cheered us in the winter. And this makes people SAD.

Nowadays, instead of spending time at night gazing into the glow of a fire, people stare at their television sets or computer screens. The red and yellow flicker of a fire has been replaced by the dim, cold flicker of a screen.

I tried an experiment with fire to see whether it could improve my family’s mood after a couple of weeks of gray, wintery nights that left us all feeling depressed. We built a nice fire and watched it burn. Our depression melted away. And even the smell of the smoke felt cheering.

Could a lack of fire be why some people enjoy smoking?

Later, we found that candles work well, too, and are a good option for people living in the city or an apartment. People can experiment with smoke, too, since where there is fire there is smoke. Burning different herbs, incense or types of woods may also lift the spirits.

So it seems that the cause of winter depression is not only the loss of sunlight, but also the loss of fire. Fire, after all, is the release of the energy of the sun that had been stored in the wood. Wood is like a sunlight battery. When you need more sunlight, just release it from the wood.

Putting the fire back in your life may be all you need to lift that winter depression. If you have a heart-warming, “fire story” to share with us – post your comments below. And remember, spring is just a few months away.

About the author: Sydney Ross Singer is a world-renown medical anthropologist, author, and director of the Institute for the Study of Culturogenic Disease, located in Hawaii. A pioneer in the field of applied medical anthropology, Sydney, along with his wife and co-author, Soma Grismaijer have written numerous groundbreaking books that provide new theories, research, and revelations on disease causation and prevention, including the internationally acclaimed book, Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras. For more information – visit: and

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  • Joel Blanchard

    Be aware that burning particleboard, treated, stained, painted or wet wood should be avoided because they can release toxic chemicals when burned. Also the vast majority of candles are made out of paraffin wax which is derived from oil and contains various solvents. Soy candles burn cleaner, but are they made out of genetically modified soy? I use and recommend real beeswax candles.

    To offset SAD I perform the Tibetan Eye Exercise while anchoring the sun in the center of my view. Here’s a link to a Tibetan Eye Chart:
    I also take supplemental vitamin D. For severe depression give St. John’s Wort a try.

    Love and best wishes to you all. :o)

  • MJH Raichyk

    My favorite ‘fire’ is the video of a fireplace with a wonderful ‘feel’ of calmness, peace and beauty..

    no smoke, no toxins, no bugs in the woodbox, no ash and dirt, no hot-ember insurance hazard, and less expensive (either in freezing cold of procurement or in snazzy glittery store-bought logs with pricetags), no woodcutting, no hauling… just turn it on when you want and turn it off when you want…

    some online sources do have such videos as well.. ttyl

  • MN

    There is a new book out “While Science Sleeps” by nutritional researcher Monte Verde. It is about the toxicity of wood alcohol. He traces MS and other autoimmune disorders to wood alcohol in our food and lives- like smoked food and heating with wood. It is worth a read and considering.