Category Archives: Chinese Food Cures

Immune-Boosting Tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine

Greetings Dear Readers,

Our immune system performs a complex range of tasks to overcome various types of foreign invaders and diseases.  Several organs and processes are involved such as bone lymph-systemmarrow, lymphocytes, the spleen, lymph nodes, and the thymus gland.  White blood cells such as neutrophils, macrophages and dendritic cells identify what is not our body and destroy those cells.  Eastern medicine focuses on building up the body’s internal defense system so that the microbe has no chance of getting a foothold.

Strengthening the immune response involves building the Defensive Qi, an energetic layer of Yang (warm, invigorating) energy that lives between the skin and the muscles.  Since Defensive energy depends on sufficient strength and warmth of the body, this explains why we need to keep our body warm in fall and winter and get enough rest to keep colds at bay.  When the Defensive energy is strong we either don’t catch the cold or flu going around, or if we do catch it, our body has the strength to fight it off quickly.  One recent study presented bysleep the Sleep Research Society concluded that those who sleep only 5-6 hours per night have a greater risk of catching a cold.

The lymph system acts as the body’s internal vacuum cleaner, cleaning up all the microbes and waste materials and flushing them out.  Since the lymph system does not have a pump, it requires exercise or therapy such as massage, cupping, or skin brushing to move the lymph to promote proper drainage.  For this reason, it is so important to get some type of regular exercise to avoid lymph stagnation which can weaken immunity.

There are also foods and herbs that can support the strengthening of the Yang/Defensive energy as well as improve blood circulation to support lymph drainage.

Foods that Strengthen Immunity:

Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, cabbage, parsley), mushrooms (shitake, reishi, chaga, oyster, etc.), raw honey, goji berries, fermented foods (such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, pickles, yogurt without sugar), coconuts and coconut oil, berries, chlorella, garlic, ginger, green tea.miso-soup

Herbs that Strengthen Immunity

Licorice (avoid if blood pressure is high), tusli,  honeysuckle, chrysanthemum, elderberry, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, yarrow, tumeric, echinacea.

Foods that Weaken Immunity

Sugar, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, processed fats such as margarine, trans-fats, fried foods, rancid oils, preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings, rancid oils, red meat, alcohol, drugs, processed foods, and foods that are not fresh.

Two Great Acupressure Points to Stimulate Your Immune System

Stomach 36 (Zu San Li). This is one of the most important points of the whole body because it strengthens the body in a multitude of ways, strengthening energy, blood, Yin and Yang.  You just can’t go wrong

st36
Here is ST 36

using this point:)  You can find it by placing your hand under your knee cap, then directly under your hand at about one thumb’s distance lateral to the tibia (that big bone at the front of your leg) you will find a depression, or little dip along the skin and this depressed area is ST 36.  Give this point some good pressure for several minutes, then do the other side.

Another great point is point is Large Intestine 11. You can find this point by bending your arm so that you see the elbow crease on the li11skin at the lateral side of the elbow joint.  The end of the elbow crease marks Large Intestine 11.  Pressing around this area may reveal some tenderness.  Give this area some good pressure regularly.  It is a homeostatic point that regulates both an under-active immune system (frequents colds, flus, cancer) as well as an overactive immune system (allergies, auto-immune disorders).

Regular acupuncture treatments can also build up immunity using point combinations to strengthen your Defensive energy, your warming invigorating Yang energy, as well improving circulation of blood and lymph depending on what each individual requires.  Each acupuncture treatment builds upon each other and for this reason I recommend a relaxing-acupunctureseries of 5 treatments. This is why I have put together this Immune-Boosting Package of 5 treatments at a discount price for the fall and winter season, to encourage you to see for yourself the immune supporting benefits acupuncture can provide.

Wishing you health and happiness!

Cynthia

References:

  1. Aric A. Prather, PhD1; Denise Janicki-Deverts, PhD2; Martica H. Hall, PhD3; Sheldon Cohen, PhD2 Prather AA, Janicki-Deverts D, Hall MH, Cohen S. (November 2016).  Behaviorally assessed sleep and susceptibility to the common cold. VOLUME 38, ISSUE 09.SLEEP

Kombucha Tea for Stomach Qi

Greetings Dear Readers,

Kombucha is a raw, living, fizzy sweet tea drink prized for its numerous health benefits.  The earliest record of its use dates back to imagesChina’s Qin Dynasty (221 – 206 BC) where it was given names such as “The Tea of Immortality” and “Stomach Treasure”.  It was later brought to Russia and Europe by travelers in the 20th century when it started to re-emerge in popularity after a disappearance during the sugar and tea rationing of World War II.  Many people discovering kombucha, myself included, feel so good after drinking it that it quickly turns into a daily habit.  Kombucha drinkers report many benefits from much increased energy, immunity to colds and flus to excellent digestion and even increased hair growth.  Why is that?  Well, here is some of what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has to say about kombucha.

It Detoxes the Liver

One of the main patterns seen by TCM acupuncturists in the modern world is a pattern called “Liver Qi Stagnation”.  This means that the Liver energy is clogged, over-heated and excessive (although sometimes deficient) most often due to emotional stress and poor eating habits.  Kombucha has a number of properties that make it an excellent remedy for the Liver system.  TCM considers kombucha to be sour, bitter and warming.  The sour flavour in TCM herbology and nutrition is used to cleanse the Liver and Gall Baldder.  Similarly, Western science has identified a number of naturally occuring acids (think sour) in kombucha such as glucoronic acid which benefit the liver and have been found to prevent the build up of toxins in the tissues.  These healthy acids have a similar effect as lemons which are acidic before being ingested but are transformed inside the body and in the end leave the body more alkaline, i.e. healthy.  Kombucha’s bitter properties mean that it has the ability to improve circulation, reduce inflammation and clear toxins from the body.  The bitter flavour in TCM also has the ability to prevent infection and prevent tumors.

images-1

Kombucha Tea Improves Digestion

Kombucha supports the “Middle Burner Qi”, meaning the proper functioning of the Spleen and Stomach systems.  The stomach’s job is to break down food.  The Spleen system also has many jobs including extracting nutrients from the food to support the production of blood.  When the Spleen system is “deficient” there are often sugar cravings.  It’s interesting to note that fermented foods, including kombucha, actually work to reduce sugar cravings.  Raw kombucha is probiotic containing live beneficial bacterial cultures which support the breakdown of food and digestion (for the full beneficial effects, always check that store-bought kombucha is truly raw – read labels and check for strands of the culture in the glass).

G.T.Dave's Kombucha is raw and unpasteurized. I don't receive any money for saying this. You can also use it to start home brew.
G.T.Dave’s Kombucha is raw and unpasteurized. You can also use it to start a home brew. I don’t receive any money for saying this.

Being warming in its thermal nature, kombucha helps the Spleen system which prefers Yang (warming) food and drink.  The Spleen system is often weak because of the Liver imbalances where the over-burdened Liver “attacks” the Spleen.   So kombucha tea helps both organ systems.  Warming food and drinks such as kombucha also help those is transition from a more meat and dairy type diet which is more warm to a vegan or raw vegan diet which is more cooling.  The effervescent quality of the drink resembles soda pop and is used by many to overcome the craving for pop drinks.  It is a sweet-tasting drink but the sugar content is very low (7 grams per 250mL).

When the energy of the Spleen and Stomach improves, the side-effect is better immunity.  In TCM, immunity relates to the Metal element which governs the Lungs.  In the Five-Element cycle, The Earth element (Spleen and Stomach) is the “mother” of Metal (Lungs and Large Intestine).  So when the Spleen and Stomach are healthier and stronger, they send their extra energy to nourish the Lungs to build “Defensive Qi” to fight off external pathogens such as colds and flus.

Kombucha improves Stomach Acid and Nutrition

While the body does need alkaline reserves, some areas of the body do need to be acidic to do their job.  One such is the stomach lining which needs to have a pH of around 2-3.5 in order to be able to break down food.  If Stomach acid is weak or lacking (which happens quite frequently in the modern age because of adrenal stress – the fight or flight response shuts down digestion)  the result is poor absorption of nutrients causing malnutrition.  Yes, this means that even if you are eating amazingly fresh, organic tree-ripened foods, if your stomach doesn’t have the acids to break it down enough to extract the nutrients, you will be malnourished.  It’s not just what you eat, it’s what you absorb.  Kombucha to the rescue!  Kombucha has been found to contain seven plant acids as well as various B vitamins, vitamin C, enzymes and amino acids.  These plant acids increase the acidity of your stomach lining which gives your stomach the ability to break down food.  The improved Spleen and Stomach function from this drink results in improved athletic performance (the Spleen governs muscle tissue in TCM) as well as mental ability (the Spleen governs the intellect in TCM).  People have also reported increased hair growth which would be because of improved nutrient absorption.

Resolves Dampness and Phlegm (AKA Tumors and Cancer)

Dampness and Phlegm are TCM terms used to describe a Yin pathogen that shows up as discharges such as excessive vaginal discharge (leukorrhea), excessive nasal mucous (rhinitis), productive cough, watery swellings, wheeping discharges from the skin, and excess body fat.  When pathogenic Dampness has been in the body for too long,  it becomes hardened by the natural heat of the body and becomes Phlegm which appears as hardened nodules, lumps or tumors.  Dampness and Phlegm produce stagnation in the body.  Kombucha, which has similar properties to vinegar in TCM, is used to remove stagnation by moving Qi and Blood.  For this reason kombucha has been used traditionally for cancer patients – by increasing the Qi flow, the body can resolve the dampness and phlegm.  According to the ancient axiom in TCM, where there is Qi (energy) flow there is health, harmony, where there is no Qi flow there is pain, disease.

**Please note: If you are a child, are pregnant, have a compromised immune system, or have kidney disease, it may be advisable to talk with your doctor before beginning to drink kombucha, especially if you are doing a home-brew.  Kombucha can cause the body to detoxify strongly and pregnancy is not the time to begin to detox.  If you have been a regular kombucha drinker before becoming pregnant than drinking kombucha while pregnant should not be a concern, however starting to drink kombucha after becoming pregnant is not advisable.

Have you tried kombucha yet?

Love to hear your comments and questions.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food and the Sun’s Daily Rhythm

Greetings Dear Readers,

Just as the year has a seasonal cycle – spring, summer, fall and winter  – so too does each day have a cycle.  Early morning, when the sun is rising, is the most Yang (warming, energizing, invigorating) part of the day.  Later morning and early afternoon are Yang with some Yin while late afternoon and evening are Yin with some Yang.  Late night is the most Yin (cool, calm, quiet).  In TCM, health is about harmonizing with the Yin-Yang energy rhythm of the day and night which in Western terms is called the circadian rhythm. I10-67-circadianclock So what does this all mean in terms of diet?   By matching your food choices with the sun’s energy phase, i.e. Yang foods during the Yang part of the day and Yin foods during the Yin part of the day your overall energy, digestion and stamina will increase.  Plenty of research on shift workers has shown that living outside the normal rhythm (i.e. sleeping during the day and working and eating at night) increases the incidence of breast cancer, colorectal cancer as well as gastrointestinal disorders, mental health problems and preterm deliveries in pregnant women.1  This is a good reminder for our modern age when people are working more according to the rhythm of their work place or their technological devices rather than their bodies’ circadian rhythm and the sun.

On a side note – a set of acupuncture points called “Horary points” can also be used to horary-pointsadjust your body to the sun’s rhythm in cases of jet lag or shift lag.  Shift workers often develop an excess on Yang and deficiency of Yin because they are not getting sleep at the most Yin time which is night, so they lose out on this Yin energy.  If you have heat signs such as dry mouth at night, sore throat, feeling of heat, try eating more Yin foods such as sesame, lotus seed, water chestnut, white fungus, lily bulb, seaweeds, pears, wolfberry fruits, red dates, lotus root, tomato, water chestnut, soybean sprout, and Chinese cabbage.

Early morning as the sun rises, it is most Yang.  This is the time to eat more Yang foods.  Interestingly many people already do that.  Many people like to drink coffee first thing in the morning.  This is not surprising at all as Chinese Medicine says that coffee is Yang and warming.  For those who would like an alternative to coffee for their morning Yang tonic, there is ginger tea or, if pressed for time, you can nibble on a piece of ginger pickle which you can make yourself using the very simple recipe below.

In the West, many people start their day with cooling Yin foods such as cold milk and dry cereal with a glass of cold juice.  Others who are trying to be quite health conscious may drink a fruit smoothie with bananas and yogurt.  The problem with these breakfasts is that they are too cold, or Yin.  Bananas and dairy are Yin and cool in TCM and are best eaten later in the Yin phase of the day, late afternoon or evening.

A Chinese friend of mine recently gave me this ginger pickle recipe below that is used for strengthening the Yang energy and digestive fire. It is a perfect thing to take first thing in images-1the morning to give you stronger energy all day provided that you are not over-heated (it’s all about balance!).  Ginger benefits the spleen, stomach and lung channels.  Ginger disperses cold, wind and damp-phlegm.  This recipe is also traditionally used to prevent the common cold virus because ginger clears “Wind” which is the external pathogen that carries the virus into the body.  Fresh ginger is warm while dried ginger is considered hot.  If the Spleen is deficient and causing blood to leak out of the vessels as in for example, menorrhagia, ginger can strengthen the Spleen’s astringing function to hold the blood inside the vessels and stop the excessive bleeding.

How to make Ginger Pickles

Ingredients:

8 oz ginger sliced finely

1 cup apple cider vinegar**

1/3 cup unpasteurized honey

1. Chop up fresh ginger into bite-size pieces.

2. Place ginger pieces into vinegar (organic apple cider vinegar is the healthiest kind)

3. Let ginger “pickle” by letting it sit and absorb the vinegar for 1 week or more.

4. Start each day eating one or two pieces of ginger pickle.

**Using high quality rice vinegar instead will cause a slight pinkish colour change to the ginger if that is preferred.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

References:

1.Institute for Work and Health. 2005. Shift Work and Health.      http://www.iwh.on.ca/topics/shift-work

2. Health Tips for Shift Workers and TCM Remedies. Shen-nong Ltd. 2002-2005. Taken from: http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/lifestyles/tcmrole_sleep_shift.html.

How to Dissolve Kidney Stones

Greetings Dear Readers,

If you have kidney stones or are worried about possibly having them, there is an easy solution:

asparagus! Yes, that’s right, asparagus.  Go down to your local market and pick yourself up 2 or 3 bunches.

Raw Asparagus spears

Eat one cup of asparagus (steamed or juiced, however you like it) each day for 3 or 4 days.  You’ll know this is working when you see the appearance of a white sand in your urine.  This is the dissolved kidney stone material leaving your body. Yay!

Asparagus dissolves the oxalic acid crystals as well as the calcium stones caused by too much calcium supplementation either in pill form or from drinking calcium-fortified soy or almond milk.  Read the labels. The body only needs a set amount of calcium at one time and will deposit excess calcium in various places in the body such as the arteries (arterial plaque) and the kidneys (stones).  The body often cannot absorb calcium because it requires various cofactors, namely magnesium, which is extremely deficient in modern diets owing to poor soil quality.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, asparagus purifies the Lung system of toxicities, strengthens the Kidney Yin, and calms the Heart which helps the mind become more peaceful (Heart houses the mind, known as “shen” in TCM).

Happy healing!

Yours in health,

Cynthia

Strengthening the Stomach with Cabbage Salad

Greetings Dear Readers,

Ever wonder why some people (perhaps you fall into this category) eat a very healthy, perhaps

Cabbage Salad (Recipe)

extraordinarily healthy diet well beyond what most people do for themselves, perhaps eating super foods and/or supplements by the truckload and YET have fatigue, low appetite, weight gain, bloating, gas, constipation, food sensitivities and low vitality?  Why is that?  Well, one likely reason is Low Stomach Acid.

The stomach, like the skin and vagina, are organs that are meant to be acidic (pH above 7).  Since these are areas that

The angle of His is formed between the esophag...

micro-organisms can easily invade, acid acts as a chemical barrier preventing unfriendly bacteria/viruses/parasites frequently found in animal products (especially raw fish) as well as unwashed vegetables (i.e. spinach) from colonizing inside you.  Your stomach acid, which is part of your immune defence, is meant to have a pH of 2; enough acidity to destroy these micro-organisms.   Stomach acid also has a  digestive purpose in chemically breaking down food particles in order for your small intestine to absorb the nutrients.  In modern people, stomach acid is often weak and gets even weaker as we age due to long-standing poor dietary habits.  Ever wonder why many elderly people have poor appetites and eat bird-size meals? My grandfather who lived to be 98 and took apple cider vinegar (which increases gastric acid secretions) regularly had the strongest appetite of anyone I know.  He would take us to a Chinese buffet and have four full plates of every kind of food plus two full dessert plates.

Low stomach acid is something to take very seriously as it has a number of consequences:

1. Protein in food is not broken down.  Protein in it’s broken down state is amino acids (protein molecules).  Amino acids are the basis of neurotransmitters (naturally chemicals used by the brain and nervous system to relay information between the brain and various areas of the body).  Without enough neurotransmitters, the nervous system doesn’t do it’s job leading to things like mood disorders such as depression.  Poor protein digestion also causes hair loss and brittle nails (nails and hair are made of protein).  Another issue with poorly digested protein is that it often sits too long in the intestines causing bacterial growth and weakening of the intestinal walls.  This is called ‘leaky gut syndrome” meaning food matter leaks out the walls of the intestines.  This leakage causes an immune response because the food matter isn’t where it’s supposed to be, the peritoneal cavity.  Anti-bodies are made in response to the food particles in the peritoneal cavity which then sets off an immune response every time you eat foods that you have antibodies to.  The more the low stomach acid situation continues, the more food sensitivities, inflammation and auto-immune diseases develop.

2. Bacteria and other unwanted micro-organisms get a foot-hold in the digestive tract (think H. pylori, the bacteria known to be responsible for stomach ulcers, as well as parasites).

3. Although this sounds contradictory, low stomach acid is actually one of the causes of acid reflux, heartburn and G.E.R.D. (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease).  How so?  With each of these conditions, contents from the stomach are backing up into the esophagus because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is not closing tight enough.  Why is the LES not closing? The is because the stomach acid is not sufficient to break down the food or destroy bacteria causing the pressure in the stomach to build up.  The fermentation of stagnant food means the lower esophageal sphincter must open to release the pressure.  Initially, the treatment is to calm the acid reflux with chamomile and slippery elm to heal the irritated esophagus.  Antacids, baking soda or milk will comfort the esophagus in the short term but since these products are intensely alkaline they will actually weaken stomach acid.  Once the acid reflux has calmed down, the next step is the increase stomach acid using bitters.

4. Low stomach acid means poor absorption of nutrients, especially minerals such as non-heme iron sources (plants), B12 and folic acid.

5. As the food is not properly broken down by stomach acid, it putrifies (rots) in the gut causing gas, bloating, belching and constipation.

How to tell if your stomach acid is low?  One simple way which you can do at home is called the beet test.  Eat a beet or two (salad, steamed, juiced, doesn’t really matter how).  If your urine or bowel movements turn pinkish-reddish (called beeturia) within the next 24 hours , you will know that your stomach is not breaking down and assimilating the pigments which indicates that you are not getting enough nutrients from your food.

Ok, now for the therapeutic answers.  It’s interesting how TCM and Western herbal medicine both agree so well on this issue: bitters!  Bitters are so important for your stomach and digestion and need to be eaten every day. Vinegar which is considered a bitter food in TCM, is a key ingredient used in the recipe below.  There are hundreds of bitter foods.  All those leafy green vegetables your mom wanted you to eat and you ate them because she promised you dessert.  Most green leaves have a bitter quality.  Some common bitters are dandelion, alfalfa, plantain, red clover, arugula, wheat grass, barley grass, parsley, watercress, and a whole lot more which you may even find growing in your yard (careful – don’t eat if sprayed with herbacides).

TCM describes the actions of bitters:

1. Clears Heat

2. Drains Dampness

3. Increases appetite

4. Purges toxins

5. Moves Qi downwards to promote urination and bowel movements

Cabbage Salad to the Rescue

Cabbage in TCM is slightly sweet and benefits the Spleen and Stomach systems.  It also clears toxins from the bowels and improves circulation.  Cabbage also contains vitamin U which heals the stomach lining and increases appetite.  Fresh raw cabbage juice is an age-old remedy for gastric ulcers.  The vinegar is a bitter which stimulates acid production in the stomach.  The raw vegetables contain live enzymes which help digest the food.  The Celtic sea salt contains chloride needed in the production of hydrochloric acid (A.K.A. stomach acid).

**For those who have an active heartburn/acid reflux situation going on, wait until the the heartburn/acid reflux calms down (takes about 2-3 weeks to clear using chamomile, marshmallow root and slippery elm daily) before using the vinegar, onions and garlic as these foods can be heartburn triggers.  Some people report that apple cider vinegar doesn’t trigger their heartburn while regular vinegar does.  Also, dried garlic and dried onion powder can be used as substitutes as these are less triggering than the fresh kind.

Ingredients:

3 cups red cabbage, shredded

1/2 medium onion, shredded

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup raw almond butter

3 Tbsp unpasteurized honey

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp Celtic sea salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1. Shred cabbage and onion in a food processor or with a grater.

2. Add in apple cider vinegar, raw almond butter, garlic, honey. coriander, cumin and salt.

3. Mash ingredients together until fully mixed.

4. Enjoy!

Yours in health,

Cynthia

Raw Cashew Cheese Dip Soothes the Lungs and Large Intestine

Greetings Dear Readers,

Many who have transitioned to a dairy-free or vegan diet enjoy cheese and dearly miss it

Creamy Vegan Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
Creamy Vegan Cashew Cream Cheese

when they feel called to eat this way.  Many have tried dairy alternatives such as soy cheese and found it to be a poor substitute, myself included.   Alas!  There is a very rich and dreamy food experience that many have not yet discovered: raw vegan nut cheeses!  Try something different today!  Delicious rich nuttiness blended with nutritional yeast for extra cheesey flavour and vitamin B nutrition combined with tangey citrus and a little garlic or herbs for flavour and show, a red pepper mixed in to make an orange coloured raw cheese dip – oh the creative possibilities in texture, colour and flavour are endless!  Nut cheeses are a gourmet art.

Here I’m just giving you a simple basic recipe to get you started along with, of course, health information from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) so you can understand the health benefits of your health food adventures.  From a TCM perspective, dairy cheese is Damp-forming.  Too much Dampness (runny nose, cysts, sinus congestion, weight gain, coughing up sputum, sluggishness, foggy-mindedness, etc.) is often a reason why vegetarians run into digestive problems and end up going back to eating meat.  Many vegetarians eat “salad and cheese” meals regularly which quickly leads to “Cold-Damp” (lettuce is thermally Cold and dairy is Damp) which then leads them to an acupuncturist who tells them they need to quit being vegetarian and start eating meat.  This is a very common story.  Well, as a vegan myself for many years, I’ve learned to adjust the diet to achieve good health.  Here we are mixing the old with the new.  The TCM sages of yesteryear did not have access to marvellous electrical appliances such as blenders which pre-digest the food to make it less work for your body.  These raw vegan cheeses will counter-balance the Cold nature of dairy because nuts are warming and the garlic, mustard and vinegar will help clear Dampness.

Cashews

Cashews moisturize the lungs and colon.  The lungs and colon belong to the Metal element in TCM which also corresponds with the autumn season, the best time of year for eating nuts.   Cashews treat Lung Dryness issues such as dry cough, wheezing (dyspnea), bronchiectasis, external pathogens (i.e. “colds and flus” in Western terms) and Large Intestine dryness such as dry stools that are difficult to pass, dry mouth and throat and chronic Yin and Blood deficiency.

Nutritional Yeast

This is a great addition to most people’s diet if you haven’t yet discovered it.  It is a healthy kind of yeast that contains an abundance of B vitamins and certain minerals.  Not to worry, candida, or “yeast infection” in your body is not the same species of yeast.   Nutritional yeast is a great food supplement especially for vegetarians and vegans due to its’ high levels of b12 and folic acid.  For the nutritional profile of nutritional yeast click here.

  • 2 cups raw cashews (soaking 2-4 hours improves nutritional quality)
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup filtered water (add a bit at a time until desired thickness)
  • 1/4 cup juice of fresh lemon (or lime)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp Celtic sea salt
  1. Place the cashews, 1/2 of the water, 1/2 of the lemon juice, garlic and sea salt in the food processor and pulse until roughly blended.
  2. Gradually add in more lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, mustard powder, garlic and salt to taste.  Garlic as optional but does add a lot of flavour.
  3. Use as a dip for celery, carrots, or dehydrator chips/breads.
  4. Enjoy!

Yours in health,

Cynthia

Cookies for Kidneys

Greetings Dear Readers,

RAW cookies
RAW cookies

Cookies for Kidneys.  If it sounds like a charity campaign for your organs, well, it is.  Actually the Kidneys are the most depleted organ in modern people.  It’s extremely rare to meet anyone with very strong kidney system even if they eat all the right foods and meditate daily.  In grade school, our school had a campaign to raise money for the Kidney Foundation of Canada. We had to sell little snack size bags of roasted peanuts to our family and neighbors.

Now if only we were selling sesame seeds instead, then according to Eastern Food Therapy, we’d really be

Dry sesame seeds
Dry sesame seeds

doing the kidneys a huge favour.  Sesame (hei zhi ma) is warm and sweet and  a tonic for the Kidneys and Liver.  It is said to strengthen Yin, Jing and Blood as well as “blacken” grey hair  (use black sesame) and build the spirit (Shen).  Yes, you can eat cookies for a good cause.

The Kidney system is in fact the most charitable organ of our bodies.  Whenever one organ is deficient in Yin or Yang, eventually it asks the Kidney system for an energy loan.  The Kidney is like the savings account of the body so it always needs to be replenished for those “rainy days”.  The Kidney system includes the adrenal glands in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).   The World Health Organization recently (2010) recognized adrenal fatigue as a disease, calling it “21st Century Disease” a condition whereby frequent, prolonged and intense stress caused the adrenal glands to release cortisol which over time leads to burn-out of the adrenals or “Kidney Yang Deficiency” in TCM speak.

The Kidney system is associated with the emotion of fear in TCM.  In this “Age of Precariousness” as some are calling this time of economic and job insecurity, fear is rampant.  The stress toll on the body is evident as people often wake up feeling tired in spite of a long sleep, using caffeine to stimulate their adrenal system which is not strong enough to provide the energy boost and motivation (Yang) for the day ahead, having frequent infections, environmental sensitivities, and doing aerobics (which further depletes the adrenals – do weights/sit-ups instead) to eliminate the excess fat around the waist or “spare tire” which is actually caused by the adrenal insufficiency in the first place.  There are a whole host of symptoms and conditions that have adrenal insufficiency at their root.  I highly recoomend Dr. Wilson’s adrenal fatigue quiz as well as his book .

Now, let’s get on to those yummy cookies!

Ingredients  (Makes about 20 small cookies)

  • 1 ¼ cups almond flour (can grind almonds into flour using food processor or coffee bean grinder)
  • ¼ teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • ⅓ cup pitted dates or agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds(un-hulled has double the calcium than hulled)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon natural vanilla extract
  1. Grind almonds until finely crumbled in a food processor.
  2. Mix in sea salt, dates, sesame seeds, olive oil and vanilla.
  3. Blend until fairly even.
  4. Place mixture in fridge for a couple of hours to harden.
  5. Form dough into small cookie shapes with a cookie cutter or small glass jar (just improvise!)
  6. You can also roll the formed cookies in whole sesame seeds for decoration.

Enjoy!

Yours in Health,

Cynthia

Strengthening Kidney Yin

Greetings Dear Readers,Do you have issues with night sweats, low back ache, dry mouth at night, dizziness, nocturnal emissions, poor memory, ringing in the ears, or fatigue?  If so, you may have signs of Kidney Yin deficiency.  You can check with your acupuncturist or TCM practitioner to be sure.  In the meantime, here are some tips on how to strengthen your Kidney Yin.Lifestyle:

The Kidney in TCM is like the savings account of your body’s energy.  It’s important to find ways to conserve and restore your energy.  Simplifying life by focusing on the essentials and letting go of non-essential tasks and concerns will help you conserve energy.  Making a bit of time each day for meditation can increase calm and focus.  Connecting with your Source can help bring in energy from a higher plane which can be very restorative.  Kidneys govern the feet and ears so massaging the ears and feet will be helpful.  It’s also important to get enough rest or “down time” as well as sleep.  When a person experiences too much stress and overwork without rest it begins to weaken the adrenal glands causing caffeine cravings.

Suribachi (small) and surikogi (medium) with b...

Exercise:

It’s important to not over-do aerobic exercise with this condition.  Hatha yoga (not fast or power yoga), Tai Chi, Qi Gong or weight lifting in moderation are exercise choices.  “Seated forward bend” is a yoga posture that strengthens the kidneys.  Yin yoga classes involve many postures which open the Kidney channel and restore to the Kidney Yin.  “Yi Jin Jing” (please see the video I posted on this “Yi Jin Jing and What is Bone Marrow Washing?”) is a qi gong set which builds Kidney strength.

Diet:

Kidney Yin tonics include: pomegranate, potato, pears, aduki beans, wheat grass juice, barley grass juice, parsley, black sesame seeds, nettle tea, vitamin B12, spirulina, chlorella, almonds, rhemmania tea, berries, seaweed.  Many green drink powders available in drug stores contain several of the above ingredients.  Yin by nature is fluid so it’s important to drink enough water, juices, soup/rice congee meals to build the Yin up.

Kidney Yin deficiency is a condition which takes some time to heal.  Steady effort using the above tips will pay off.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

Tasty Asian Kelp Salad

Greetings Dear Readers,

If you’re anything like me you may find the taste of kelp a bit too much to bear.  Knowing the health benefits of kelp, I’ve tried to all kinds of ways to get it down, from kelp powder pills to kelp pieces in soup to raw kelp noodles.  None of these are very appetizing to me.  This recipe really does kelp some justice.  Here we have the tanginess of the rice vinegar that subdues the kelpy taste into palettable proportions, the  sesame seeds and sesame oil brings a rich nutty taste and a little Braggs or soy sauce enhances the flavour.

The trick I learned from a Chinese friend (whose parents insist she eats more seaweed), is to buy kelp that is very light and thin, almost brittle.  You may need to shop around and ask in Asian markets to find it.  The kelp I’ve seen in health food stores is quite thick.  After it’s soaked it’s rather chewy and rubbery and not so fun to eat.  So think thin and flakey when buying kelp pieces.

TCM Benefits of Asian Kelp Salad

This dish benefits the Kidneys and Liver systems.  In TCM the Kidneys are the “Mother” of the Liver so strong Kidneys suport a healthier Liver.  Kelp is known as the “vegetable of long life” and is very rich in minerals such as iodine and is indicated for hypothyroidism.  Like other seaweeds it removes Phlegm and Damp, softens hard masses such as cysts, tumours, and fibroids and is used in the healing and prevention of cancer.  Kelp is cooling and helps clear Heat toxins such as the effects of radiation therapy, promotes urination and strengthens the Yin (moisture) of the body.

Sesame strengthens the Liver and Kidney channels.  Sesame helps with Kidney deficiency issues such as weak legs, early greying of hair, cold feet, dry stools, infertility, poor memory, poor milk production in women, paralysis and dizziness caused by deficiency.

Vinegar enters the Liver and Stomach.  It breaks up stasis, speeds up blood flow, clears toxins, stops bleeding and kills worms.  The sour flavour in vinegar moves Liver Qi and is indicated for Liver Qi Stagnation issues such as frequent sighing, cold hands and feet, anger or irritability, and headaches and painful menstruation.

Asian Kelp Salad

1. Soak kelp pieces in water overnight.

2. Using 3 cups of soaked kelp, drain place in bowl with 1/4 cup of black sesame seeds.

3. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil and 2 Tbsp. vinegar.

4.  Add Braggs liquid aminos/tamari or soy sauce to taste.

5.  Mix all ingredients together and let stand for an hour or more before serving.

6. Enjoy!

Yours in Health,

Cynthia

Goji Berries for Long Life and Yin Deficiency

Nederlands: gedroogde Goji bessen

Greetings Dear Readers,

One of the great things about Traditional Chinese Medicine is the explicit detail on the healing properties of various foods and the way foods can be used according to their Yin/Yang properties to treat various conditions.  The ancient system of TCM Food Cures is based on the idea that everything we put in our mouth can serve a meaningful healing purpose in our body.  Goji berries are a known medicinal superfood with many benefits such as increasing longevity and immunity, improving strength, energy, and sleep quality, and strengthening the Yin of the Kidney, Liver and Lung systems.

Goji Berry

Everything in life has Yin and Yang qualities.  Yin and Yang are relative opposite energies which balance each other.  Yin is slow, cool, dark, liquid, substantial, quiet and calm.  Yin energy is so needed now-adays to balance the overly Yang (fast, loud, stimulating, aggressive and ungrounded) energies of  modern life.  We are multi-taskers.  We are sensory-overloaded.  This way of life can be balanced by strengthening the calm, relaxing Yin energy in the body through Yin-building food and drink, as well as mental practices such as meditation.  Goji berries provide Yin energy to the Kidney, Liver and Lung systems.

Goji berries are a longevity tonic because they strengthen Kidney Yin which helps maintain our life force and hence our longevity.  The Kidney system in TCM has the function of “housing the Essence”.  Essence is the vital life force of the body, the bodys’ reserves or savings account that comes in to play when other body systems are depleted.   Kidney Essence is closely related to Kidney Yin.  When Kidney Yin starts running out, the body starts borrowing from Kidney Essence.  When Kidney Essence is low there will be signs such as fertility issues, scanty menses, early greying of hair, low back ache, softening of the bones, mental dullness and poor memory.

Kidney Yin deficiency and Liver Yin deficiency often go together.  The Kidneys are the “mother” of the Liver system in the TCM creation cycle.  Strong Kidney Qi supports a healthy Liver and Kidney Yin supplies Yin to the Liver.  Kidneys belongs to the Water element which is the mother of the Wood element (Liver).  Insufficient Yin of the Kidneys can lead to insufficient Yin of the Liver.  Signs of Kidney and Liver Yin deficiency include dizziness, dry eyes and floaters, brittle nails, dry stools, numbness and tingling of limbs, very dry hair and skin, insomnia, scanty menstruation, delayed or absent cycle, dull-pale complexion with red cheekbones, depression, dry vagina, nocturnal emissions, and dry throat.

Goji berries also strengthen Lung Yin.  Lung Yin deficiency signs are weak or hoarse voice, dislike of speaking, fatigue, night sweating, dry cough with sticky sputum, and a dry throat and mouth.  Lung energy embodies our spiritual essence, also known as the “Po” in TCM.  Although the body and mind are separate entities, they share a very close relationship.  For this reason Lung Yin is an important energy to maintain for those on spiritual paths.  Smoking dries out the Yin of the Lungs.  For help quitting smoking, ask your acupuncturist for “NADA” (National Acupuncture Detox Association) treatment (5 needles in each ear) which is highly effective and scientifically proven for quitting smoking.

Goji berries are especially indicated for the eyes.  They are said to “brighten the eyes”.  One special recipe for dry, red, itchy eyes is a tea made from chrysanthemum flowers and goji berries.  Chrysanthemum flowers are inexpensive and easily available in Asian herbal stores and grocers along with goji berries.  Goji berries can also be used for tired eyes from too much reading or computer use, blurred vision, eye pain, dullness or ache. 

**Caution for pregnant women: Goji berries stimulate uterine contractions.

Have you tried goji berries yet? What have you noticed?

Love to hear your comments and questions.

Yours in health,

Cynthia