Do you want to avoid that sick, overstuffed feeling this Thanksgiving? Try something a little different this year with these yummy Chinese takes on Thanksgiving favorites! These dishes will delight your palate and will leave your body thanking you as well. Not only do these favorites taste good, they also do good for your body according to Chinese medicine.
- Black Sesame Asparagus - This is a great side veggie for your Thanksgiving feast! In TCM, black sesame seeds build yin and Blood and moisten the intestines to help with digestion (definitely a good thing on Thanksgiving!) and the asparagus helps moisten the lungs, which is great for the dry Fall season. Try this recipe from Food.com. All you need is: asparagus, black sesame seeds, a pinch of salt and pepper, and some fresh lemon.
- Holiday Rice and Beans - This dish is often served during the holidays in the Korean culture. It’s ingredients represent: a rich harvest in the year to come, as well as the five good things in life—longevity, wealth, good health, children, and a peaceful death. The 5 main ingredients in this dish are: black soybeans, red beans, coix - or pearl barley, brown rice, and pine nuts. This dish is very healthy and can help build energy, memory, hair growth, and address insomnia. Check out the recipe by Pacific College Faculty Member Yuan Wang HERE.
- Purple Yam Dessert - If you normally make yams for Thanksgiving dinner, try them in a dessert this year! This yam recipe is good for counteracting fatigue, weakness, lack of appetite, and constipation. All you need is: a purple yam, unsalted walnuts, goji berries, honey, and vegetable oil. Check out Yuan Wang’s recipe HERE.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”
Oriental medicine (OM) operates on the belief that everything is connected. No symptom or pain in the body occurs in a vacuum—it’s always related to something else, and there are both external and internal factors to take into account. In OM, health is considered closely related to nature. As our bodies are organic, balance can be achieved by aligning our lifestyle and diet habits with the natural environment around us. Eating seasonal foods and altering our sleep patterns to correspond with daylight hours are some of the examples of living in accordance with the seasons. When it comes to nutrition, paying attention to the seasons and the environment that surrounds us is a powerful force of illness prevention.
Have you noticed that Eastern civilizations appear to avoid many of the pitfalls of diet-related diseases like colon cancer, obesity, and heart disease? The foods consumed by these “healthier” cultures are not only as natural as possible, but they also align with an area’s seasonal produce and the body’s needs.
Whole foods are recommended for almost all diet patterns. The widely held belief of holistic health practitioners stipulates that foods should not be broken down into nutrients, but instead consumed in their natural forms, sans processing. This coincides with the notion that nature provides the best nutrition and the most balanced diet, removing the need for vitamin and mineral supplements so popular in our culture.
In our current Western culture, the health benefits of foods are evaluated by looking at the proteins, calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, and other nutritional contents. However, in a traditional Chinese diet (and that includes herbs), not only vitamins and minerals are taken into account, but also the energetic properties of food such as energy, and flavor. Other less important aspects include meridian tropism and common and organic actions. These refer to specific internal organs or the meridians on which the foods can act. For example, celery acts on the stomach and lungs, carrot on the lungs and spleen. According to OM, foods can act as herbs. Like herbal remedies, food can be selected and prepared appropriately to tonify, cleanse, and regulate the body.
A whole-foods diet helps ensure that your entire body gets the required nutrition it needs. That’s because whole foods carry out the major functions of a good diet, which includes absorption, assimilation, and elimination, everything a healthy body needs. In contrast, synthetic, processed, and refined foods may interfere with your body’s normal functions. In time, unnatural foods may leave you vulnerable to disease. For more insights on whole foods, pick up a copy of Healing With Whole Foods, 3rd Edition by Paul Pitchford.
For more information on cooking according to a whole foods inspired traditional Asian diet, check out the book co-written by Pacific College of Oriental Medicine professors Yuan Wang and Warren Sheir (written with Mika Ono), Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing, and Long Life.
And if you’re curious about which herbs and spices have healing properties (many of which are based on Chinese medicine), check out Bharat Aggarwal’s Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease.
When allergies strike, it can affect almost every activity you do—from your voice and breathing, to headaches, and how you approach your workflow, allergy symptoms can make it difficult to get through the day. One of the most common forms of seasonal allergies is allergic rhinitis, which affects the sinuses. Symptoms include sneezing, congestion, runny nose and red, itchy eyes. Western medicine typically prescribes antihistamines, decongestants, or drugs that act on the nervous system. Steps can also be taken to avoid the allergens altogether. While these prescriptions may be effective in treating the allergic response, they often have undesirable side effects, such as drowsiness, immune system suppression, or over-reliance on medications.
Holistic medicine like Oriental medicine (OM) can offer a natural alternative to these Western approaches, one that doesn’t include side effects. OM strives to treat the whole person and recognizes that people with chronic allergies often show signs of other health imbalances like what’s known as spleen or kidney deficiency, or even lung problems. OM considers allergies or hay fever as a manifestation of wind invading the upper body. This occurs because one’s qi (or energy source) has been weakened, which explains why a Chinese herbalist may address these allergies by building up the body’s immunity and defensive qi.
An acupuncturist or OM practitioner’s goal is not just to treat a patient’s current symptoms and provide immediate relief, but also to treat any underlying immune system imbalances that may be the real cause of one’s allergy problems. Such treatments may take the form of acupuncture and revising one’s diet, including the addition of specific herbal formulas.
If you’re suffering from allergic rhinitis, there are some foods to avoid. Certain foods like full-fat dairy products, cheese, and chocolate, can create more mucus in the body and should be avoided. Sugar and soy-heavy foods can also cause this problem for some people. Reduce your intake of white flour and pastas, as well as dried fruits and wine, which contain sulfites and can spark this allergic condition.
The organs of your body have their sensory touches at the bottom of your foot; if you massage these points you will find relief from aches and pains. This sort of guideline is used in acupuncture and other holistic therapies.
OM in the news this week! Check it out!
OM in the news this week! Check it out!
Chinese Olympic swimmer Wang Qun was spotted with clear cupping treatment marks during training. She uses cupping for back, neck, and shoulder pain. To find out more about cupping see these articles:
Overwhelmed by all the massage style choices out there? Do you wonder which massage type is right for you? Check back to see new awesome massage demo videos right here! Today’s feature is Thai massage with Pacific College Faculty Member Tracie Livermore. Learn all about Thai massage and what its stretching yoga-like qualities can do for you.
Check out the Integrated Medical Discussion Group on “Oncology” at Pacific College with Dr. Paul Brenner! Want more? See the other panelists here.