5 thoughts on “Ask Cynthia”

  1. Is it possible,being underweight, to clear a congested liver and build liver and kidney yin with raw foods and gain weight?

    1. Hi Connie,
      Thanks for your question. Yes clearing up Liver congestion is fairly easy on a raw food diet if you eat enough
      greens. You should notice clearer skin, better hair, bright and clear eyes with a raw diet, all relating to better liver functioning. By weight gain, I assume you mean muscle tissue which is governed by the Spleen system. Weak Spleen Qi is often a result of liver congestion which “attacks” the Spleen and can eventually give rise to wasting/weakening of muscle tissue, all else being equal. For Spleen qi, you will want to eat more of the warming foods and be sure to include some of the warming spices such as ginger, also eating regular meals in a calm environment. Fatigue is often part of the Spleen Qi deficiency picture which means people exercise less because they feel tired and this means reduced muscle mass. So start with eating some warm foods and include some gentle yoga daily then build up the strength training exercise as your energy increases. The Yin deficiency issue is more complex. Yin deficiency is a result of long-standing issues such as Damp-Heat for example which paradoxically causes a Yin deficiency by consuming the body’s healthy moistening fluids making them turbid in the process of Damp formation. The heat also burns up the Yin. This is just one example. What I’m trying to say here is that Yin deficiency patterns are too complex to give advice about over the internet as they are usually part of several other patterns, although it is a very good question and I do welcome your questions. Do you have a TCM practitioner that you see?
      Also, it’s important to point out that Yin deficiency often has Spleen Qi deficiency at the root of the problem. You can read my article “Is my Spleen in Trouble” and see if this applies to you. If you don’t get to the root of the issue, the symptoms will just come back. All that said, some of the strongest yin-building foods are the seaweeds and microgreens such as spirulina and chlorella. However, if you have more long-standing Yin deficiency as it sounds like you do given that the Kidney Yin is also deficient, in this case it’s important to also eat some Yang foods and not eat yin foods exclusively because when Yin becomes too deficient, the Yang also starts to get depleted and when Yin and Yang are both depleted, this is more troublesome. Liver Yin deficiency is also closely related to Liver Blood deficiency, often a result of long-term Liver Blood deficiency. Please see my article on Blood nourishing foods.
      With Liver Blood deficiency, in many cases the Spleen Qi is also weak as the Spleen has to work in harmony with the Liver and when one goes off, the other tends to go off too. I think it would also be a good idea to see a TCM herbalist who can put together a formula that would best fit your condition. I wouldn’t try to rely on foods alone with more long-term conditions. So, all in all, I’d say that yes people can put on healthy weight eating uncooked foods and in your case, it will be important to look after the Spleen. I’d see an herbalist and get on some herbs, then ease slowly into raw foods while being sure to eat enough warming foods such as walnuts, ginger and dates.
      Good luck and keep me posted!

  2. Hello Cynthia,

    Thanks for your beautiful blog !

    I’m French and here there’s a small trend of raw foodists, mainly of the fruit-based kind, but although some seem to feel well on this diet, many have already turned their back on it because they became really ill and depleted.
    As for me, I tried eating like that for some weeks and I felt pretty good, but I finally returned to my old habits, being afraid of running into more problems. I’m 23 and have PCOS. The Chinese Medicine practicioner I was seeing told me I shouldn’t eat raw food and should eat mainly cereals and vegetables, plus some meat. I’m currently trying a vegan version of that plan, but I keep being attracted to raw vegan food. In fact, I’ve read online about PCOS women telling they have been completely cured of it (which is supposedly impossible) by following a 80/10/10 diet (Doug Graham’s way). Others advocate a paleo lifestyle to get your periods back (I have had no periods for more than one year, after I stopped taking the pill) and avoid blood sugar problems, because PCOS is linked to diabetes and insulin resistance.
    I’d really like to know if you’ve already seen PCOS being completely cured, and what are your thoughts on the paleo lifestyle. Also, what foods would you recommend to a PCOS sufferer ?

    Thank you really much,

    PS : I guess you’re in the NKT, right ? My sister’s a nun here in France : ).

    1. Hi Amelia,

      Apologies for taking so long to reply. Yes I understand that many people go 100% right away and stay on it when their body is
      not able to handle it for various reasons. There are many raw foodists such as Mark Rothkranz and Karen Calebrese who transitioned
      slowly over several years and then were able to maintain it successfully. My best advice is to avoid swinging from one extreme to the other. For example, eating very high fruit (80/10/10 with lots of sweet fruit) is very yin and makes some people feel spacey or too cold which can cause them to swing the other way which is paleo (lots on animal products) which is very Yang (heating). In TCM the right diet for each person is a little different depending on their condition, the season, their constitution, activity level etc. Yes the standard TCM response is cooked food (grains, vegetables and meat). I would suggest
      a moderate approach to the vegan diet. “Raw til 4” is a popular version of the approach to doing high carb, high raw with some cooked food and is more easy and gentle than 100%. Basically, Raw til 4 people eat raw breakfast (maybe fruit) then raw lunch (big salad with nuts or seeds or fatty dressing) then a cooked dinner with a lot of carbs such as potatoes/pasta/rice and maybe some more raw veggies thrown in. So this way you get a lot of the benefits of eating raw without feeling depleted. Another variation is to eat a raw breakfast, cooked lunch, raw dinner. This latter one I’d say is better because digestion is stronger at lunch than at dinner so it’s easier on your body.
      Yes there have been many successful results with PCOS from eating raw vegan. Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D. explains that just a 5-10% weight reduction (which often results from high carb raw vegan), often brings periods back for those with PCOS. http://thekindlife.com/blog/2013/04/treat-pcos-polycystic-ovarian-syndrome-with-vegan-plant-based-diet/
      I have found the paleo diet does not show good results when follers have their blood analyzed, they are often deficient and unhealthy, whereas those on some version of high carb raw vegan (even with a slightly higher fat intake such as 20-30%), their blood work shows good nutrition and health.
      Eating too many bananas in a northern climate can make you cold as bananas are cooling. Dates can be used instead since they are warming. Other high carb options are buckwheat sprouts, raw oatmeal (can make raw oatmeal cookies).
      Stopping the pill is often a cause of hormone imbalance as the body is adjusting to not taking extra hormones. It is common for some women to take up to a year before they get their periods back.
      I do not specialize in reproductive health, nor do I deal with a lot of reproductive complaints at this time, but I will say that
      I believe healing is possible when the body and mind have the right conditions.
      PCOS is essentially a kidney system weakness, either Kidney Yin deficiency or Kidney Yang deficiency at the root, while other patterns such as Spleen Qi deficiency leading to Dampness and Liver Qi stagnation often play a role.
      I would definitely include some foods to target the Kidney system such as:
      nettle tea, sesame seeds, berries, watermelon, seaweeds such as nori, wakame, dulse, etc., black beans especially and beans in general (maybe about 1/2 cup per day) are a good high carb vegan food, a bit of sea salt in moderation, buckwheat, almonds, walnuts, astralagus (tcm herb), spirulina (1 tsp daily). There are many other kidney foods but this will get you started. If you often feel cold, such as in the winter, add a bit of cinnamon or asian ginseng, siberian ginseng to warm you up.
      Other lifestyle factors to include would be getting enough rest, not burning the candle at both ends, avoiding caffiene, doing yoga to increase circulation to the pelvis and inner organs.

      Yes I’m in the NKT. What a coincidence! What is your sister’s name? I stayed at the CMK France in summer of ’09 to help with
      renovation but I’m not sure I remember many names.

      ok, hope this helps.
      Keep me posted:)

  3. Dear Cynthia, I just read your post on the five yin organs exercises. Thank you for this insightful post. I like these exercises. But what about the exercises for the five yang organs? Could you tell me about those?

    Many thanks,

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