Happy New Year!!!

Chinese Medicine Living
would like to wish you and yours
a very healthy and happy 2014!!


Winter - The Water Element

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Much of Chinese Medicine is based on the theory of the five elements, or Wu Xing. Each element has many associations, including a season, both a yin and a yang organ, colour, direction, taste and emotions. Below is a list of the seasons, their elements, organs and the emotions associated with them.

Summer - Fire  - Heart - Joy
Late Summer (or the end of any season) - Earth - Spleen - Worry or Over Thinking
Autumn / Fall - Metal - Lungs - Sadness
Winter - Water - Kidneys - Fear
Spring - Wood - Liver - Anger

The winter season is associated with water and the kidneys. The kidneys are the foundation of our yin and yang energies, store our Jing (or essence) and govern vital activities like birth, growth, reproduction and development. The kidneys are said to open into the ears, thus our ability to hear clearly is dependent on strong kidney energy. The kidneys also govern bones, teeth, hair on the head, the nervous system and brain.

Strong Kidneys

The kidneys in Chinese medicine are not the same as they are seen in Western medicine. They are not simply two separate organs that sit at the level of the lower back, remove wastes and release hormones. They are en entire organ and energy system that is connected to the rest of the body, is paired with the bladder, and has important functions both physically and emotionally. When kidney energy is strong we are lucid and able to articulate our thoughts and feelings.  Children grow quickly, and have strong bones and teeth. They are smart, learn quickly and can think clearly. Strong kidney energy will also help a person move through the stages of life without difficulty, giving them the ability to adjust to changes and better able to cope with stresses that come along the way. Strong kidney energy also give the ability to take in information and process it effectively as we go through life, to make keen observations and making you seem wise beyond your years.

5 elements Chinese Medicine

Kidney Deficiency

A deficiency of the kidneys often manifests as developmental problems both mentally and physically. In children these manifest as problems with growth and development, such as learning disabilities, physical deformities, and dental cavities. In adults symptoms of kidney deficiency are sore lower back and knees, frequent urination, prematurely greying hair, weak, brittle bones, arthritis, dental cavities, hearing loss and pain in the soles of the feet. Because the kidneys are also the source of our sexual energy, lack of libido, impotence and infertility are signs of a deficiency of the kidneys.

The Water Personality

The Archetype for Water: The Philosopher

A person with a water type personality will have the following characteristics:

  • Sincere
  • Introspective
  • Modest
  • Observant
  • Sensible
  • Lucid
  • Curious
  • Careful
  • Innovative
  • Resourceful
  • Frugal
  • Objective
  • Particular

Below is a description of a water personality in five element theory taken from the book Between Heaven and Earth...

Revelation propels the Philosopher in her relentless quest for truth. She brings to light that which is hidden, uncovering new knowledge, dispelling mystery, eroding ignorance. Scrutinizing life until the meaning and significance of her impressions coalesce into the germ of understanding, she is like an old time prospector with a nose for nuggets, sifting through the gravel of notions and beliefs, tireless in her effort to apprehend the nature of reality. Just as the miner digs through tons of ore before unearthing a single gem, the Philosopher searches doggedly for truth, which, like a diamond, is esteemed not only for its radiant sparkle, but for its abiding hardness as a tool to advance civilization. It takes millennia to crystallize the residual mineral essence of fossils into this precious stone. Time is the pick and shovel of the Philosopher, who exhumes the bones of culture that endure. The Philosopher yearns for meaning that transcends the rudderless meandering of human affairs.

As she offers insight to the world, she relies on her hope that knowledge will be married with wisdom, power and compassion, aware that destiny is the final authority. Able to envision what can be, she is critical of what is by comparison. She discerns the inevitable disparity between apparent and ultimate reality. As the custodian of our memories and dreams, she articulates our aspirations, our ends, but does not define for us the machinery of their realization, our means.

*From Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfeld and Efrem Korngold

The Water Body Type

There are certain physical attributes that each element portrays. The water body type has a round face and soft, white skin. They love to move and they have long spines. They are loyal to their friends and colleagues and are excellent negotiators. They are sympathetic, slightly lazy and don't always tell the truth. They are usually quite sensitive and self aware. The strong point for water types is their digestion.

The Kidneys and Emotions

The positive emotion of the kidneys is willpower, so when kidney energy is strong we will have willpower and live life with focus and direction. When kidney energy is weak we are susceptible to fear and anxiety. This works both ways, deficient kidneys can leave us fearful and anxious, and if we experience an excess of these emotions, it can deplete kidney energy. A person susceptible to anxiety, panic attacks or phobias may be suffering with deficient kidneys.

Winter is the best time of year to build up kidney energy. It is a time for a contraction of energies and introspection. Winter is a time to rest, going to bed earlier and waking later. The diet should consist of hearty, warming foods, like soups and stews. The longer and slower the cooking, the warmer they become. Supplementing our "post heaven essence" by eating well, drinking clean water and living moderately will help to strengthen kidney energy. The first point on the kidney meridian is on the bottom of the foot, so walking and running stimulates this point and floods the body with kidney energy - so regular exercise, especially outside is great for your kidneys. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are also a wonderful way to correct deficiency and keep the kidneys strong. So, enjoy the cold weather, and be sure to take care of your kidneys - they will love you for it.

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If you would like a downloadable information sheet that will tell you all about how to live in harmony with the Winter Season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Winter Season in Chinese Medicine.

 


Elimination Issues - How to have a Happy Colon

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

As an acupuncturist, I spend my days talking to people about their poops. Colour, texture, consistency and smell are all discussed in detail in an attempt to ascertain what is happening inside the body, how food is being digested and the overall health of the individual. At first, this is sometimes difficult for people to talk about, and even though this might not be something to discuss at the dinner table or in polite company, it is certainly an important part of diagnosis which is why all aspects of your poop are important to me.

Problems with Constipation & Diarrhea

Problems with elimination are very common. There are many reasons for this, and in my experience, the two most common are diet and emotions. Even though the Chinese medical model teaches us to live in harmony with nature, our modern lives have become, well, unnatural. Most of us no longer eat the types of foods we have evolved to eat. We have more variety than we ever have, and we also consume more chemicals, additives and toxins in our food than we ever have before. All of these things impact our digestion, elimination and of course, the body as a whole. The emotions are also closely related to digestion and elimination. How many of us get stomach aches when we worry, or suffer from diarrhea or constipation when we are stressed?

Nutrition - You Are What You Eat

The most important factor to keeping our colon's happy is what we eat. This has become more and more difficult with a huge variety of foods, many unnatural foods, additives, preservatives, and highly processed foods. It is also harder to know what to eat as there is so much information out there, with many opinions on what to eat for optimum health. My philosophy is simple. Eat real food. Eat local food. Eat seasonal food. Eat organic if you can. If possible, develop a relationship with a local farmer. Avoid processed foods and read labels. The best thing you can do is to keep it simple and eat fresh, local foods that are in season. Below are some foods that are excellent for lubricating the intestines and are beneficial for constipation, and some that simply promote bowel movements which are good to know about if and when you run into problems in the bathroom.

Foods that Treat Constipation

foods for constipation

Below are foods that lubricate the intestines:

  • banana
  • spinach
  • sesame seeds
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • pine nuts
  • seaweed
  • okra
  • soy products
  • prunes
  • peaches
  • pears
  • honey
  • apples
  • apricots
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • beets* (be careful as eating beets can make it look like there is blood in your stool!)

Foods that promote bowel movements

foods to promote bowel movements

  • castor oil
  • bran from oats, rice or wheat
  • cabbage
  • papaya
  • peas
  • black sesame seeds
  • coconut
  • sweet potato
  • asparagus
  • figs

The Emotions
Why Letting Go will Help Your Bowels

The Bowels and the Emotions

One of the major reasons for problems with elimination is the emotions. This, as well as our diets, are a huge factor in how food moves through the digestive system. The large intestine is the yang partner to the lungs which are yin. Their emotion is grief and the energy is "letting go". The lungs take in new, oxygen rich air, and breathe out harmful carbon dioxide. The large intestine receives the waste after the foods we eat have been digested and all nutrients have been absorbed in the small intestine. It is the last stage in the digestive tract and its job is literally to let go of what our bodies cannot use and do not need. I have found in practice that often people who are chronically constipated have problems letting go of things in their lives. It can be past hurts, a relationship that ended without the closure we needed, a sudden death, or the dissolution of a friendship. There are a million reasons why, and many of us bring these past experiences with us into the present where we allow them to continually hurt us. Therefore, our abilities to accept and be open to new experiences, and to let go of things that are painful or harmful is important to both our emotional and physical well being. The lungs and large intestine are also associated with attachment, so if you have a hard time letting go of people, objects, experiences or spend a lot of time reliving the past, this can point to a deficiency of the large intestine which can lead to bowel problems. However, if the large intestine is healthy and its energy strong, the bowels will move freely and regularly, which is what we all want!

We Were Designed to Squat

Years ago when I was working in China, one of the most fascinating (and strange) things there were the toilets. Or the lack of toilets. In most places where I was in Southern China, there were no toilets, but simply a hole or more commonly, a trough in the floor in which to do your business. When you first encounter this, it is a bit perplexing. I remember thinking to myself, how I am I going to DO this? The other thing was that, at least in many of the places where I was, there was no privacy in the loo. For example, in a large university the washroom was a large room with a few sinks on one wall, and a long trough in the floor with a constant stream of water going through it, sort of like a river. There were a few low dividers about 3 feet tall making a sort of stall, but with no doors. This was a very different experience for me, but people came in and did their thing like it was completely natural. And this is because for them, it was. So, in China, even though I learned many, MANY things (I could write a series of books on the subject) two of the most important were how to squat while going to the bathroom and the other was to do it out in the open, often in front of many onlookers. At first it was a bit strange, but after a little while, the experience became quite liberating, and I noticed that especially, for pooping, squatting was a much easier way to do it in comfort and without strain.

What I found out after some investigation is that our bodies are designed to squat to eliminate. The modern invention of the toilet (bless it) has unfortunately compromised the optimum way in which we were designed to poop. But, a sassy little company has taken it upon themselves to elegantly solve the problem. They are called - Squatty Potty. I love this name, it is marvellous, and in their business, it is important to have a sense of humour. What they have done is designed a little stool that you use with your toilet to raise your feet and create a squatting position to allow your colon to align in the proper position for the most comfortable and easy elimination. They have a little video on their website that you can watch below that explains it very nicely.

The Squatty Potty Video

I have a squatty potty and I love it. It is a simple and elegant way to be kind to your bowels and help things move more easily. It stores easily under the sink, and, if you forget to put it away, it is quite the conversation starter! It is amazing how much of a difference it makes and how, for someone who has had elimination issues for a long time, a little stool could have such a big impact. :)

Anyone who has ever experienced problems with elimination - be it constipation, diarrhea or a combination of the two, will tell you that having healthy bowels is something we should never take for granted. Everyone should aspire to keep their poops healthy and flowing freely, and the key is eating well, staying emotionally balanced and working on your ability to "let go". Your bowels will love you for it. :)

How to have happy poop in Chinese medicine

 a happy poop!


Thank You.

On this day of thanks, we would like to thank everyone around the world who has supported Chinese Medicine Living this past year, you are all the reason we do what we do. We would also like to thank Chinese Medicine for being so awesome and such an inspiration. <3

 


Snow-Ear Mushroom - The Natural Internal Moisturizer for our Bodies

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

The best part of Chinese food culture is to eat according to the seasons. With fall in the air and the weather getting dryer, it is important to eat foods that can combat dryness and promote vital fluids to lubricate our lungs, joints and skin.

The best food that can do just that is snow-ear mushroom. The botanical name is Tremella fuciformis.  It is a species of fungus producing white, frond-like, gelatinous fruit bodies. They grow wild in the tropics on recently fallen branches of broadleaf trees. Nowadays, they are commercially cultivated and are one of the most popular fungi in Chinese cuisine. The snow-ear mushroom is commonly known as silver ear fungus or white jelly mushroom and is referred to as the poor-man’s bird’s nest because of its low price but with comparable health benefits.

Chinese Snow-Ear Mushroom

Chinese medicine defines snow-ear mushrooms as neutral in nature, sweet in taste and are known to lubricate lungs and joints, promote vital fluids, promote cell regeneration and blood circulation, moisturize and whiten skin and promote energy.

The mushrooms are sun-dried and are very light in weight but they can expand to 2 or 3 times their size after soaking in water for 5 to 10 minutes. The best ones are slightly yellowish in colour (the very white ones are probably bleached), but will become whiter after soaking, rinsing and cooking.  They are softer after being cooked but still retain some crunchiness. Snow-ear mushroom is mostly used in soups, desserts and vegetarian stews.

Chinese Snow Ear Mushroom Soup Recipe

My favourite recipe for snow-ear mushroom is to make soup with apples or pears (or both) and with pork. The ingredients can vary according to your taste and liking. The soup is very refreshing with fruity, sweet and sour taste and yet is also meaty and rich. It is very easy to make. With apples and pears being so abundant at this time of the year, it is the best soup for the whole family, both for taste and health benefits. Please also search the NourishU website  for other snow-ear mushroom recipes.

Chinese Snow Ear Mushroom Soup Recipe

Snow-Ear Mushroom, Apple and Pork Soup

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Promotes yin, improves vital fluids, benefits lungs, clears phlegm, moisturizes skin and the large intestine, promotes digestion, and improves skin complexion.

INGREDIENTS (6 to 8 servings)

  • Snow-ear mushroom 雪耳 – 2

  • Apples - 4

  • Northern / Southern apricot kernel 北南杏 - a handful

  • Lean pork / pork with bone- 240gm

  • Citrus peel (chen-pi) 陳皮- one piece (soak and scrape out white membrane)

  • Ginger – 2 slices

  • Dried figs – 3 to 4 (rinse and cut into halves)

Chinese Snow Ear Mushroom Soup Recipe

INSTRUCTIONS

1.   Wash pork, cut into large pieces and put them in boiling water to cook for a few minutes. Remove and rinse.

2.   Soak snow-ear mushroom for about 10 minutes or until fully rehydrated. Cut out the brown stem and separate them into smaller pieces, and rinse.

3.   Put pork with about 2 to 3 litres of water in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Remove foam if necessary. Add all other ingredients except apples and let it cook over medium heat for about one hour.

4.   Remove skin and core of apples and cut each into large slices and add to the cooking. Add more boiling water to the cooking if necessary and let it cook for another 30 minutes.

4.   Add salt to taste and serve.

Chinese Snow Ear Mushroom Soup Recipe

USAGE

No restrictions.


Winter Melon Healing Properties and Recipe

Winter Melon for Summer Heat

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Winter Melon

Winter Melon/Wax Gourd/Tong Qwa

Winter melon is one of the most common, easy and fast growing fruit-vegetables in summer. Each plant can produce numerous large fruits on vines like watermelons up until late fall, and each melon can weigh up to 50 pounds. The reason why it is called winter melon is because it can be stored in a cool place without refrigeration and can last for months - even throughout the winter. But the best time to consume them is at harvest time. It is not just because of freshness, it is because this is when nature intended us to eat it; winter melon is for helping our body to counter summer heat and humidity. Also, people generally tend to consume a lot more cold fluid in summer and usually they are drinking much too fast for the body to process the water properly. Therefore water retention is common with people at the end of summer, especially those with slow metabolic function or people with weak kidney or digestive functions.

In Chinese medicine, winter melon is neutral and slightly cool in nature, sweet in taste and acts on our lungs, bladder, large intestine and small intestine. It helps to detoxify, clears out mucus and phlegm and promotes digestion. It is most suitable for people with kidney problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, over weight and with coronary heart disease. For people with weak and cold stomach/spleen constitution, weak with lack of yang energy or with loose stools, they should eat winter melon in moderation.

Winter Melon

Chinese cuisine uses winter melon in soup, stew, congee and stir-fry. Making winter melon tea in the summer and especially during the hottest days is the most common home remedy people make to combat heat waves and to prevent sun stroke. The tea is highly recommended for children and outdoor workers who often stay outdoors. Making winter melon tea is very simple. Just cut melon into large cubes (with or without skin), cook with a large pot of water for about 30 minutes and add cane sugar to taste at the end. It can be served warm or cold with melon and good for keep in the fridge for up to a week. It is a very healthy summer beverage for the whole family.

Winter Melon

Winter melon soups are most soothing and delicious. They are easy to make and can go with almost any combination of ingredients. You do not need to follow any specific recipe if it is not for specific treatment purposes. Winter melon goes well with most meat such as chicken, pork, duck or seafood such as crab meat or shrimps and vegetarian ingredients such as most beans, nuts, mushrooms and common food herbs such as lotus seeds, dried lily bulb and fox nuts, etc. You just need to cook up a soup base first and then add the melon to the cooking at the last 30 minutes. Here is one example recipe for your reference. You can also search our website for other therapeutic recipes using winter melon.

Winter Melon

Winter Melon, Job’s Tears and Dried Mussel Soup

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Cools internal heat, diuretic, lowers blood pressure, promotes yin and helps to lose weight.

INGREDIENTS (4 to 6 servings)

• Winter Melon 冬瓜 – 300gm
• Chicken breast – one piece
• Lean pork – one piece (optional)
• Job’s tears (yi yi ren) 薏以仁 – 30gm
• Dried scallop乾瑤柱 – 4
• Dried mussel 淡菜 – two spoonfuls
• Dried Shitake Mushroom 冬菇 - 6
• Dried longan fruit (long yan rou) 龍眼肉 – 8 to 10
• Ginger – 2 slices

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash chicken breast and pork, cut into a few pieces and put in boiling water to boil for a few minutes, remove and rinse.
  2. Soak dried mushroom until soft (about 30 minutes) and rinse. Soak other dried ingredients for a few minutes and rinse.
  3. Remove melon skin and seeds in the middle if any, wash melon and cut into large pieces and put aside.
  4. Put all ingredients (except melon) in a soup pot with about half pot of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer for 1.5 hours.
  5. Add winter melon, bring heat up to medium and let it cook for another 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
  6. Add a little salt to serve. Eat melon with soup.

Winter Melon Soup Recipe

USAGE

No restrictions.

 


Loving Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Taking Care of Your Spleen Will Do Way More Than Improve Your Digestion

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

One of the most common things I see in my practice is problems with digestion. Interestingly, this isn’t usually the reason that people come to see me, but when I am going through the medical history, it usually comes up. The sad thing is that most people live with digestive problems when in TCM they are relatively easy to fix with a little treatment ,nutritional counselling and some tips on how to help support and strengthen our digestions.

Now, a lot of people think of the spleen as in the western medicine spleen, part of the immune system and responsible for the production of white blood cells (lymphocytes) and removal of old red blood cells. It is not the same as it is in TCM. The spleen in Chinese medicine is paired with the Stomach, and both are the main organs of digestion for the body. The difference is that they not only digest food, but also stimulus and information - everything that comes into the body through our sense organs.

What you learn your first year in Acupuncture school when learning TCM theory, is that we live in a Spleen deficient culture. We are constantly taking in information, and that information has to be processed by, you guessed it, the Spleen. We eat in front of the TV (taking in food, and stimulus at the same time), we are constantly looking at our mobile devices on the road and wherever we go, and we are always multitasking. Never doing just one thing at a time. And thus, we are overloading our poor Spleens.

So, what can we do? There are lots of things that, once you are aware of them, can help take the burden off your Spleen.

Don’t Put Ice In Your Drinks.
Avoid Cold Foods.

The Spleen hates cold, so one easy way to help your Spleen is to avoid ice in your drinks. Because the Spleen is responsible for breaking down your food through the process of digestion, and this is powered by heat. Eating and drinking cold foods such as icy drinks, eating ice cream (a TCM nono!), or eating a lot of frozen or very cold foods (many foods in raw form are considered “cold”) taxes the Spleens energy, as it has to heat up again to be able to do the work necessary for digestion.

Be Mindful.

This is not just good advice for helping your Spleen, but a good life philosophy. One of the best things you can do for your Spleen is to do one thing at a time and be absolutely mindful when you do it. This means when you are eating, JUST EAT. Don’t sit in front of the TV, read, study or catch up on work. In such a fast-paced world where everyone is short on time, it is understandable that people are always doing many things at once, but this small thing will not only help your Spleen, it will relax your mind and body as well.

Chew Your Food.

We can all help our Spleens by making sure that we really chew our food well. We tend to all be in such a hurry that we do not chew our food nearly as well as we should. Chewing will help the breakdown of the foods before they get to the stomach, making the Spleens job a little easier.

Eat Soups.

Since most of us have at least some Spleen deficiency, one of the best things you can do to be kind to your Spleen is to eat soups. These are warming (the longer and slower they are cooked, the more warming they become) and they are very easy to digest which is why they are prescribed to you when you are sick - your body requires less energy to digest them, focussing its energies to fighting pathogens and getting you well. Soups do not take a lot of energy to digest, saving the Spleens energy for other things. There are many foods that are beneficial to the Spleen which I will list later in the article. I will also list foods that the Spleen is not so fond of so you can at least be aware of what they are and avoid them when you can.

Take A Break.

Because we live in a culture that is so bombarded by stimulus, most people have deficient Spleens. The Spleen must take in and process ALL that information, including the food we eat and liquids we drink, so you can imagine, it is a very hard working organ. Something that you can do to give your Spleen a break, is to literally, take a break. Go for a walk outside. Leave your phone at home. Sit somewhere quiet and meditate away from the TV, the phone and try to avoid interruptions. Doing this even once a day for a few minutes will really help the Spleen and you will notice a big difference in how you feel. You will notice that you are calmer, more aware and feel more at peace. And your Spleen will love you.

The Spleens Functions in TCM

The Spleen is responsible for many functions so that if you have symptoms in any of these areas, they point to a disharmony of the Spleen.

The Spleen Controls Blood

The Spleen is responsible for manufacturing the Blood and the Spleen Qi keeps it in the vessels. If Spleen-Qi is weak, a person will bruise easily, and/or will have problems with bleeding.

muscles

The Spleen Controls The Muscles And The Four Limbs

The Spleen is responsible for circulating nutrients to the muscles and tissues. If the Spleen is weak, then the muscles and limbs are not nourished and become weak and tired.

The Spleen Is Responsible For Transformation & Transportation

The Spleen is responsible for the intake, processing, and distribution of nutrients extracted from food and drink. The Spleen takes these nutrients and creates Qi and Blood, both vital substances for all the body’s functions and maintaining proper health. If transformation and transportation is functioning properly, the Qi is strong, digestion is smooth and the body is kept moist. When malfunctioning, the Qi is weak (lassitude and lethargy), the appetite is poor, digestion is sluggish and the stools are loose and watery.

The Spleen manifests on the lips

The Spleen Opens Into The Mouth & Manifests In The Lips

Chewing is necessary for the functioning of the Spleen and if the Spleen is deficient, the sense of taste may be dulled. Red, moist and vibrant lips indicate a healthy Spleen. If the Spleen is deficient, however, the lips will be pale from lack of nourishment.

Controls The Upright Qi

The Spleen is responsible for the body’s “holding” function. This is called the upright Qi. It is specifically the force that counteracts gravity when it comes to holding things, specifically the organs, in place. This is very important! Without healthy upright Qi, all of our organs would be at the bottom of our abdomen! When the Spleen is weak, we see prolapse of organs (uterus, bladder, stomach), prolapse of the vagina as well as things like hemorrhoids (prolapse of the anus, PLUS bleeding also attributed to the Spleen).

Houses Thought

Every organ in TCM is seen to have its own unique Spirit, and the Spirit of the Spleen is called the Yi. The Spleen is directly related to our capacity for thinking. How well we manage our thoughts, concentrate, exercise discernment, and form intentions are dependent on the strength of the Spleen.

Young Woman Biting Her Finger Nail

Worry - The Emotion of the Spleen

All organs in TCM also are associated with an emotion, and the emotion of the Spleen is worry. This works in two ways. Excessive worry will damage the Spleen Qi, and a deficient Spleen can weaken the mind and our capacity to think clearly and focus, leaving us susceptible to worry.

Colour food circle

Foods Beneficial For The Spleen

  • Organic lightly cooked vegetables, corn, celery, watercress, turnip, pumpkin, alfalfa sprouts, button mushrooms, radish, caper
  • Brown rice, barley, amaranth, rye, oats
  • Legumes, kidney beans, adzuki beans, lentils
  • A small amount of lean organic meat, poultry and fish, tuna
  • A small amount of whole fruits (as opposed to just the juice), lemon
  • Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Seaweed, kelp
  • Green tea, jasmine tea, raspberry leaf tea, chai tea
  • Raspberry, peach, strawberry, cherry
  • Walnut, chestnuts, pine nuts, pistachios
  • Lamb, venison
  • Lobster, mussels, prawns, shrimp, trout
  • Black pepper, cinnamon bark, clove, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, sage, turmeric, thyme, horseradish, cayenne, nutmeg

preparing food

Foods That Hurt The Spleen

  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Cold drinks
  • Fruit juice
  • Processed foods
  • Refined flour, pastry, pasta, bread
  • Cold raw foods
  • Refined sugar and sugar substitutes
  • Coffee, alcohol
  • Deep fried foods
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Bananas, avocado

When the Spleen is functioning well a person will feel energetic, their digestion will be smooth, their bowel movements will be regular and firm (not soft), thoughts will be clear and one will be able to concentrate.

When the Spleen is imbalanced there will be symptoms of digestive upset, loose stools, poor appetite, low energy, edema (water retention), nausea, vomiting, weakness in the four limbs, pale lips, organ prolapse, bruising and a feeling of cold.

Because most of us have some level of Spleen deficiency, we can all help our Spleens by being aware of simple things we can all do to take some of the pressure off this important organ. Your Spleen will love you for it. :)

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If you suspect you are having problems with your spleen and would like an expert opinion, Emma offers skype consultations. Please email emma@chinesemedicineliving.com for more information or to set up an appointment.

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Would you like to learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine? Check out these downloadable info sheets available on www.learnchinesemedicine.com -

The Spleen - Theory in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Dampness in Chinese Medicine

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Loving Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

 


Summer Foods & Preparation According to Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

To fully embody summer, Chinese medicine suggests that we embody yang - expansion, growth, light and outward expression, activity, brightness and creativity. Summer is a time of luxurious growth. To be in harmony with this season it is best to wake early and soak up the summer sun just as the plants do. Have your work, play and all the things you do be joyful and fill you with a sense of happiness and peace. This is a season to allow the bounty of the outside world feed and nourish us.


Photo by Stephanie Cook on Unsplash

One of the joys of summer is having an unlimited variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables so you can enjoy creating beautiful meals using many colours and textures, as well as creating gorgeous floral arrangements for your home and table which nourish the eyes as well as the body.

Cooking should be light, like steaming or sautéing to keep the vitality of the food while adding a bit of spicy or pungent flavour to nourish the heart, the organ representing summer. When sautéing, use high heat for a very short time, and when steaming or simmering do so quickly so food retains its nutrients. Use more water for cooking in summer and less salt.

Summer offers abundant variety and the diet should reflect this. Because there is excess sweating in summer, fluids, minerals and oils must be replaced or the body will become weak making us more susceptible to disease. A varied diet will give the body everything it needs to stay healthy, and the summer season is the best time to be able to offer the body variety.

Heart Bowl

Although it may seem contrary to what we have learned in the West, Chinese medicine tells us to drink hot liquids and take warm showers in summer to induce sweat and cool the body. Summer heat along with too much cold foods weakens the digestive system and injures the digestive organs of stomach and spleen. Many raw foods are considered cold in Chinese medicine as they take a lot of energy (digestive fire) for the body to break down. Eating raw foods, ice cream and iced drinks actually cause the stomach to contract and impede digestion and are best avoided.

On very hot days eat more cooling fresh foods such as salads, sprouts, fruit and tofu. Hydrating foods such as watermelon and cucumber will ensure that your body is hydrated in the hot summer sun. Another thing that cools summer heat are flower leaf teas such as chrysanthemum, chamomile and mint, and the best cooling fruits are lemons, limes, watermelon and apples. Surprisingly, hot spices are indicated for the hottest days of summer as they have a stimulating effect that initially heats up the body, but then brings it to the surface to be released. Black pepper, cayenne, fresh ginger, and red and green hot peppers are ideal for this. Moderation is important when using these hot spices however as dispersing too much heat will deplete the body’s yang (or fire energy) and the body’s balance will be disrupted which will make it more susceptible to contracting illness.

Heart Foods

Avoid heavy foods, especially on the hottest days as they make the body sluggish. These tend to be the foods many of us eat on a regular basis such as meat, eggs and an excess amount of grains, nuts and seeds. Eating less and light meals on hot days is a natural healthy practice and something that is easily forgotten as many of us have lost touch with our bodies and its rhythms as well as the changing of the seasons.

Eating whole foods is important for the entire body and especially the heart. Whole foods have a calming effect on the body so including them in the diet is important for good health. The bitter aspect of grains such as wheat and rice is in their germ and bran which are removed in processing refined wheat and white rice. Also the essential fatty acids in the grain germ and the B vitamins which are primarily in the germ and bran have a definite healing and sustaining effect on the nerves. Magnesium also, is important for proper functioning of the heart and nerves but it virtually lost in the milling of grains and refining of most foods. Green foods are high in magnesium and should be added to the diet especially in the summer season to help the heart function properly.

Chinese medicine teaches to live according to the seasons which means eating what grows in each season and changing the way we prepare our foods accordingly. The seasons tell us when we should wake in the morning, sleep, and how much activity we need. Because each season is associated with an organ and an emotion, we are taught to pay close attention to the seasons associated organ and emotion at this time to make sure it is healthy and all of our emotions are being expressed so that we can be happy and balanced.

Photo by Cynthia Frankvoort on Unsplash

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Featured image photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

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If you would like a downloadable information sheet that will tell you all about how to live in harmony with the Summer season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Summer Season in Chinese Medicine.


Living With The Seasons in Chinese Medicine - Summer

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

There are 5 seasons in traditional Chinese Medicine, corresponding to the 5 elements - Fire / Earth / Metal / Water / Wood. They correspond to Summer, Late Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring respectively.

Summer represents the outward expression of energy, expansiveness, movement and activity. It is the most yang of the seasons and is ruled by fire. Life and energies are at their peak. Summer in Chinese Medicine, is the season associated with the heart and the small intestine. The colour is red, the emotion joy, and it is a time for growth, expansion, light, abundance and is the manifestation of all we have been cultivating throughout the spring.

surfing

Many look forward to summer all year round. The weather is hot and the sun is out, improving people’s moods and people are drawn outdoors to participate in all the activities they have been longing for all winter. Plants grow quickly, people are full of energy and the body’s Qi and vitality are at their peak. It is a time to cultivate the yang energy (fire), while making sure that it does not come to excess. In Chinese Medicine, the heart, mind and spirit are ruled by the fire element, so priority should be given to these important aspects of ourselves in the summer season.

journaling

Rising early in the summer allows us to benefit from the suns nourishing rays. Being up early enables us to get all of the suns nourishing energy which is the most bountiful at this time of year. In summer, our work, play and relationships should be filled with joy and should instill in us a feeling of happiness and delight. We should live our lives and go about our daily activities with joy, passion, and laughter. This is how we know that the heart energy is balanced in us.

Physically, when we are properly balanced, the heart circulates oxygen rich blood throughout the body, and assures proper assimilation in the beginning stages of digestion in the small intestine. In Chinese Medicine, mental acuity is associated with the heart therefore memory, thought processes, emotional well being and consciousness are also attributed to the heart and the fire element. This is a time to nourish our spirits, realize our life’s potential, finding joy in hot summer days and warm summer nights.

memory

When the heart is balanced, the mind is calm and we sleep deeply and wake rested. When the heart is imbalanced, we may lack joy (which manifests in depression) or have an excess of joy (mania or manic behaviour). Some indications of a heart imbalance are nervousness, insomnia, heartburn and confusion, red complexion, poor memory and speech problems.

Emotionally, because the heart is connected to our spirits, summer is the best time to heal emotional wounds that we have carried with us from our pasts. Healing these wounds frees up space that we can fill with love, joy and happiness and ensures that we will not carry our old hurts with us into the future.

living with joy

Here are some tips to help you make the most of the summer season

  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • Wake up earlier in the morning
  • Go to bed later in the evening
  • Rest at midday
  • Add pungent flavours to your diet
  • Refrain from anger; keep calm and even-tempered. (anger causes and exacerbates heat!)

heart fruits and vegetables

Summer is about abundance, and this is definitely the case with foods. Fruits and vegetables abound in summer, and we are lucky to have a multitude of choice when it comes to what we eat. Because it is the season of maximum yang, it is important to stay cool and hydrated. There are many foods that are beneficial to eat during this season. All foods in Traditional Chinese Medicine have a temperature, and energetic properties so in summer, we eat cool, yin foods that are moistening to balance the heat. Many raw foods are seen to be cooling in nature, so summer is the perfect time to indulge in salads, which are full of raw vegetables, very cooling and hydrating to the body. Eating more foods with pungent flavours and reducing bitter flavours help to strengthen the lungs - responsible for sweat so helps to maintain the normal sweating mechanism . Foods with cooling properties also clear heat, can reduce toxins and help to generate body fluids. Generally, most vegetables and fruits are cooling, eating them raw makes them cooler still, and many seafoods are also cooling in nature.

Here is a list of foods that are beneficial to eat in the summer months

  • Apricot
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Lemon
  • Peach
  • Cucumber
  • Orange
  • Asparagus
  • Sprouts
  • Bamboo
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Corn
  • White mushroom
  • Snow peas
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash
  • Watercress
  • Seaweed
  • Mung means
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Dill
  • Bitter gourd
  • Mung beans
  • Wax gourd
  • Lotus root
  • Lotus seed
  • Job’s tears
  • Bean sprouts
  • Duck
  • Fish

watermelon is good in summer

Living in harmony with the seasons is at the core of Traditional Chinese wisdom. It was based on living in harmony with nature and one's environment. Traditional Chinese Medicine is also a system that is rooted in prevention. Food is medicine and the ancient Chinese used food and its healing properties to build up the body when deficient, cleanse it when toxic, and release it when in excess. With these basic principles of eating with the seasons, and an awareness of the organs associated with each phase and their emotions, we can all stay healthy, strengthen our bodies, minds and spirits and live long, happy healthy lives.

Summer sky

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If you would like a downloadable information sheet that will tell you all about how to live in harmony with the Summer Season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Summer Season in Chinese Medicine. If you are a practitioner and would like this sheet to hand out to patients find it here - Summer Season - Professional.