One of the main concepts found in Traditional Chinese medicine is the theory of Qi is pronounced Chi. A vital essence found in all living things. The chi concept gives us a way to understand and measure the chi or energy of people, plants, foods, objects or states of energy. If the chi of a food is a good quality than the food will likely taste better and impart more Chi to the person who eats it. Whatever manifests in a person‘s body and life does so with the help of some type of Chi.
The Chi Vitality in Foods
All grown whole foods contain chi or vital energy. The chi in foods has five main energies or flavors. Sweet flavored foods are pleasing and their energy is directed to the stomach and spleen, pungent flavored food energy is directed to the lungs and large intestines, salty flavored food energy is directed to the kidney and bladder, bitter flavored food energy is sent to the heart and small intestines and sour flavored food energy is directed to the liver and gall bladder. Food also has a yin or cooling nature that conducts chi vitality inward in the body or a yang or warming thermal nature which directs chi vitality outward.
Imbalances in chi can result in blockages which cause chi to accumulate which result in a multitude of physical imbalances and ailments. In our food chi series, you will learn to use foods therapeutically and improve your health by restoring balance of chi or vitality to blocked or “insulted” organs.
There are many good recipes out there just remember to keep recipes simple. When using whole food for their healing properties keep in mind that combining or using other foods such as honey for sweetener or so sauce for saltiness can also alter the use and property of a food.
The Winter or Wax Gourd has a yin or cooling nature and sweet light flavor. It acts as a tonic to the lungs, bladder, small and large intestines. This food can be used to detoxify the kidneys, promotes urination and eliminates congestion in the lungs. Boil cubed was gourd over low heat and drink as a soup or bake until skin appears a little charred. You can eat up to twice a day or ear on a regular bases is to promote urination to help cure edema and help balance weak kidney chi.
The Winter and Butternut Squash have a warming nature and sweet flavor that can be helpful in healing inflammation, relieve pain and strengthen the spleen and stomach. Cook squash with skin and eat to help relieve pulmonary conditions.
The Onion has a warm nature and pungent flavor is useful for inducing perspiration and is beneficial for the weakened lungs and stomach. Traditional uses are a diuretic which helps eliminate excess water and also has expectorant properties which helps break up congestion in lungs. White or yellow onions can be boiled or steamed over low heat. They can be eaten on a regular basis to lower and maintain blood pressure. Onion is also considered beneficial in the treatment of arteriosclerosis.
The Pumpkin is neutral, sweet and slightly bitter. Steamed pumpkin mixed with honey acts as a strengthening lung tonic so it is helpful to people with asthma, and helps to reduce cough. This food is also useful as a diuretic eliminating water retention from damp conditions such as edema.
The Potato has a neutral thermal nature with a sweet flavor. The potato heals inflammation and is used as an energy tonic and spleen tonic. Prepare 5 medium sized potatoes, one onion, clove of garlic, 2 carrots and a stick of celery. Add four to six cups of water. Simmer over low heat until reduced to half. This soup is good for hypertension, malnutrition, bronchial asthma, allergic skin, kidney disease and obesity.
The Sweet Potato also has a neutral thermal nature with a sweet flavor and is used as a spleen and energy tonic. This terrific tuber is also used in china as a kidney yin tonic. Sweet potato can be baked or used in soup. Baked charred sweet potato can be used to induce perspiration and reduce fever. It can also be used in soups to relieve the common cold and strengthens kidney chi.
(Lu H. C., 1986)