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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 Spleen Qi

Purple Carrots

Purple Carrots

Greetings Dear Readers,

Now that we are entering Earth season, also called “late summer” in TCM, here are some seasonal tips to support your Earth energy and Spleen.

Lifestyle:The Spleen is about nourishment, mothering energy and feeling grounded and connected. It’s about the way food is eaten, ideally sitting down, chewing thoroughly, enjoying regular meals eaten mindfully in a peaceful setting.  The mental side of the Spleen is the Yi (say “yee”) which means intellect.  Students, people who study a lot, or anyone doing a lot of concentration and difficult mental tasks are using Spleen energy which can be supported by these tips here.

Exercise: The Spleen governs the muscle tissue of the body.  Massage is excellent for the Spleen system.  A balanced amount of exercise, neither too much nor too little is ideal.  Listening to your body is important.  Regularity is best, a little each day, even 10 or 20 minutes of walking, dancing, stretching, or weights is great. A stretch for the Spleen channel is a yoga pose called “Reclining Hero Pose”. A Qi Gong exercise for the Spleen can be found at: https://cynthiamcgilvray.com/2013/02/07/5-yin-organ-exercises/

Diet: The Spleen belongs to the Earth element in TCM.  Earthy things are round and have earthy colours such as brown, orange and yellow and as such Spleen foods include grains, squash, carrots, potatoes, and beets (esp. good for women).  The Spleen is associated with naturally sweet foods such as dates, grapes, maple syrup and molasses.  The Spleen needs Yang (warm, dry) energy to function at best so adding some warming foods such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and clove to foods will help with digestion and strengthen Spleen Qi.

Happy Earthiness!

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