Ying Yang Xue

"If something is cold, heat it. If something is hot, cool it." –Huangdi Neijing

Archive for the month “December, 2011”

Foods to Treat Damp Heat

We finished off the fall semester with an ode to clearing dampheat–something very topical after weeks of Thanksgiving feasts and pre-winter holidays treats.  B.C. took the task to heart, discovering which vegetables were ideal for clearing damp-heat, and then inventing a classic autumnal soup around those ingredients.   He also made some delicious Dandelion Root tea (or as we called it, “Dandeloot Rion tea!”) to give us some additional damp-draining, heat-clearing power!

TCM pattern: Damp-heat

In TCM, dampness is an excess of the water element and heat is an excess of the fire element. Dampness is associated with water retention or swelling and feelings of heaviness or sluggishness. Dampness and heat together are associated with nausea, fever, thirst, dizziness, loose stools and poor appetite, according to AcupunctureToday.com. Illnesses associated with dampness include high cholesterol, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer and fibromyalgia. Damp heat conditions may also include inflammation, high blood sugar, urinary tract infections, weight gain and food allergies. (you can read more from Livestrong.com here)

 Drain the Damp Heat Soup 

Carrots, Asparagus, and Celery have strong effects on the body to drain damp heat.

2 lbs Carrots
1 bunch of Asparagus
I bunch of Celery
2 cups of Almond Milk
1 table spoon of cinnamon
2 table spoons of nutmeg

Boil separately the Asparagus and the Carrots.
Blend Asparagus, Carrots, and Almond milk. Add water for right consistency.
Pour into pot.
Chop celery and add to mixture.
Add nutmeg and cinnamon.
Simmer for 2 hours.

We ate the soup so quickly, there was no time for Glamour Shots! Sorry, B.C.!

Foods to Treat Phlegm

M.E. had the very special & daunting task of making delicious food that not only didn’t contribute to damp or phlegm in the boy, but actually combatted it!   This was a particularly timely meal, too, as most of our heartier winter and holiday dishes lend themselves to damp formation.   We were all especially pleased to indulge in a dessert which “sopped up” the dampness that the natural sugars could potentially create!

TCM pattern: Phlegm

Phlegm can be defined as yin fluids other than blood*, thickened and eventually hardened by heat or dryness (internal or external, full or empty), usually causing obstruction and stagnation of qi and blood in the channels and collaterals, vessels, tissues, and functional structures within the zangfu. It often combines with other pathogenic factors, especially heat and dampness, because the two will form phlegm if allowed to persist together; but it can also combine with wind, which can induce a wide variety of conditions from wandering bi to stroke. Dryness is a factor that may congeal yin fluid into phlegm in the absence of heat, but is a less common pairing.

* Blood stagnation is a separate pathology treated by moving qi and blood to break the stagnation, whereas phlegm is transformed or expectorated.

Signs and symptoms of phlegm pathologies include coughing, shortness of breath, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, chest oppression, lumps or nodules in the chest, abdomen, or extremities, but particularly along the channels, shen disturbance, high LDL, cancers, lethargy, depression, difficult to eliminate stool, tophi, sleep dysfunctions, certain discharges, and many more.

Foods to avoid are ones that typically increase dampness or heat which will exacerbate a phlegm condition. These include dairy, rich meat, roasted peanuts, concentrated juices such as orange or tomato, wheat, bread, yeast, beer, sugar, and fats. Some of these were difficult to eliminate as traditional dishes tend to be fairly balanced and include some of everything, or small amounts of items contraindicated to phlegm necessary for taste or construction.

For my menu I primarily chose foods that transform phlegm and drain dampness, as well as some moderate spiciness (warm and acrid) balanced with enough cooling action to neutralize the heat yet not increase dampness. Dishes and their ingredients are as follows:

Spicy Beans
Almond Oil, Garbanzo Beans, Great Northern Beans, Garlic, Sweet Onion, Thyme, Orange/Lemon Peel, Jalapeño, Mustard Seed.

Beans were soaked and simmered for long durations, then combined with the other ingredients until flavors cooperated.

Mixed Whole Grain Rice, Cucumber, Celery, Garlic, Thyme, Coconut Oil.
Rice by rice cooker (steam) for 2hrs, then combined with other ingredients.

Pear, Mandarin Orange, Banana, Walnut, 5 Spice.
Crust constructed first, then filled and baked for 1-2hrs. The fresh fruit made for a very moist filling such that it could have gone longer. Foil was used to cover the edges and top to prevent burning during the second half while liquid reduced.

Pie Crust
Walnut, Whole Wheat Flour, Mandarin Orange, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice.

Each of these dishes were prepared with proper amounts of the main ingredients and seasoned to taste, including small amounts of spices which are not listed. Unfortunately, exact recipes were not compiled during preparation due to seat-of-pants flying. Apologies to those wishing to recreate their favorites!

The three dishes were chosen to illustrate the variety of possibilities of phlegm resolving foods, that not only potent ethnic foods have this ability, and that one mustn’t cause their nose to run in order to eliminate this pathogenic factor.

Foods to Nourish Blood

When we speak about a “blood deficiency” (or “xue xu“) in Chinese Medicine , it oftentimes correlates with a clinical anemia.  In these cases, many practitioners guide their patients towards incorporating more meat in their diets.  Anemia is typically related to either a vitamin B12 or an iron deficiency, with animal flesh being a good source of both these micronutrients.  However, addressing a blood deficiency with the diet goes beyond supplementing with those two nutrients; it addresses the multiple organ systems in charge of creating, storing, and circulating the blood.

This week, S.V. has made a blood nourishing meal that is devoid of all meat.  The class chose to address blood deficiency in this meatless manner because it is very often our vegetarian or vegan patients who are also blood deficient.  It would be beneficial for every practitioner to have a way to address this imbalance that fits in with a vegetarian diet.   So, without further ado–building blood without meat!


TCM pattern: Xue xu (blood deficiency)

Xue Xu is d/t:

1. an inadequate intake of nutrients

2. an inability of the body to absorb nutrients

3. blood loss through GI bleeding or excessive menstrual flow

4. chronic disease process

5. blood stasis preventing the production of new blood


Dizziness, palpitations, nervousness, pale or sallow complexion, pale conjunctiva, lips & nails, insomnia, somnolence, lassitude, forgetfulness, tinnitus, SOB on exertion, thinness, spots in the vision field, unusual hair loss &/or premature graying & thinning of hair, dry skin & hair, fingernails that are flat or fragile, numbness in hands & feet, light menstrual flow, puffiness of the face, and edema of the lower limbs.

Tongue & Pulse vary according to TCM dx:

1. Qi & Blood Xu:  pale & swollen Tongue w/ thin coat; weak & thready Pulse

2. LV Yin & KD Yin Xu:  red Tongue w/ thin coat; thready, rapid, & forceless Pulse

3. SP Yang & KD Yang Xu:  pale Tongue; deep & thready Pulse

Chinese dietary therapy:

Foods to include would be tonics for the Blood & Qi since they usually occur simultaneously.  “Qi is the leader of Blood and Blood produces Qi.”

Not only is it important to include foods rich in iron, but also foods that contain adequate amounts of high quality protein, copper, vitamin C & B vitamins as these are needed for iron absorption.

Therapeutic foods include whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouts, green foods and vegetables.

Some examples are blackstrap molasses, kale, avocado, black sesame seed, seaweed, cereal grasses, nettles, spirulina, spinach, lychee, apricot, blackberry, longan, cherries and raisins

To purify blood:  beets, celery, cucumber, grapes (dark colored), lemon/lime, raspberry, salt, tomato, vinegar, watercress

To tonify & build:  blackberry, chlorophyll, dang gui, grapes (dark colored), mulberry, raspberry, spirulina, turnip, watercress

For your xue building pleasure today, we will be enjoying:

~Freshly Juiced Beets, Carrots, Apple, Celery & Lemon

~Roasted Beets and Ginger Root Dice Topped w/ Toasted Honey-Glazed Walnuts & Black Sesame Seeds

~Gently Browned Garbanzo’s with Cumin Spice Blend

~Japonica, Spinach, Raisins and Carrot Dressed Lightly with Bragg’s Amino Acids

Juice recipe

carrot, beet, apple, celery, lemon juice

in that order of ingredients to preference

Roasted beets & ginger root dice topped w/ honey-glazed walnuts & black sesame seeds

roasted beets:

preheat oven to 350

scrub beets to remove dirt; cut to desired size whether sticks, chunks or rounds

lightly coat w/ toasted walnut oil & put into baking dish

add fresh dice of ginger root (peeled)

baking time will depend on the size of the cut; but check after 20 mins and adjust as needed

when done, top w/ toasted honey-glazed walnuts & black sesame seeds

Honey-glazed walnuts & black sesame seeds

place saute pan on burner and turn stove on to med heat

add small amt of toasted walnut oil (or oil of choice) and spread on bottom of pan

add walnuts; stir to coat w/ oil

lightly brown walnuts (keep them moving)

add black sesame seeds

add slow drizzle of small amt of honey & keep stirring

add small amt of brown sugar; keep stirring

add small amount of warm water to dissolve sugar & to coat walnuts

add small drizzle unsulfured blackstrap molasses

as all of these ingredients are being added, keep the walnuts moving in the pan to keep from burning

sprinkle w/ cinnamon, racked sea salt & crushed red pepper

Gently browned garbanzo’s w/ cumin spice blend

1 bag frozen organic garbanzo’s thawed

place saute pan on stove over med heat

add oil of choice to pan & spread on bottom of pan

add garbanzo’s & brown to desired color

sprinkle w/ cumin & touch of india spice blend

drizzle small amt of honey

finish w/ glaze of bragg’s amino acids

Japonica, spinach, raisins & carrots

cook japonica according to directions and set aside to cool

once cool add:

baby spinach leaves sliced into fine ribbons

carrot shreds


gently mix & add braggs amino acids and a drizzle of toasted hazelnut oil


This meal was prepared mindfully using organic vegetables and spices (beets & parsley are local!)

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