Ying Yang Xue

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

Archive for the tag “SP”

Curry favor with your Spleen

This week gave our spleens a chance to recover from midterm exams in a most delicious fashion.  B. drew upon his experience at Thai restaurants and made us his version of an “Emerald” curry.   He paired this vegan coconut milk-based dish with the most delightfully aromatic rice you can imagine.   It was so good that half of us stayed after class to eat more!

TCM DOS: Spleen Qi deficiency

TCM Diagnosis: Spleen Qi deficiency

Western Diagnosis: Gastroenteritis, Indigestion, Chronic Diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome

C/C: Digestive problems: Abdominal fullness and epigastric Pn after meals; Abdominal bloating in between meals; frequent loose stools.

S/S: Diminished appetite, sallow complexion, bland taste in mouth, fatigue, lassitude, borborygmus, BM’s 3-4x/day, loose, sometimes watery. Occasional intestinal cramping on evacuation, tenesmus. Feeling of general heaviness. Symptoms worse after eating fresh fruits or vegetables. Symptoms worse during menses and week after menses.Symptoms improved with use of hot water bottle on abdomen, Pepto-Bismol.

Tongue: Pale body, slightly swollen, scalloped, thick white coat

Pulse: Deep, moderate, slippery

Treatment Principles: Tonify Spleen, transform damp

Foods and lifestyle that Tonify Spleen Qi: Sweet flavors with neutral to warm temperatures. Cooked, smaller portions eaten on a regular schedule. At least one warm meal per day. Grains, poultry, vegetables and certain fruits strengthen our middle burner.

Foods and lifestyle that injure Spleen Qi: Cold foods, especially iced drinks, frozen foods, ice cream, raw foods, cucumbers, watermelons, citrus, pineapples. Irregular eating, skipping meals, eating too late or too large a meal, eating while emotionally upset. Extended periods of mental activity can also weaken the Spleen.

Cooking methods that tonify Spleen Qi: Warming techniques like baking, frying, roasting, boiling and simmering increase the yang energy in foods, make the food easier to digest, balance the nature of cooling foods like vegetables, and strengthen the middle burner.

Curried Vegetables with Cardamom Rice

(makes approx 8 servings)
16 oz organic baby carrots, sliced
8 oz snow peas, sliced
(8) organic small red potatoes, quartered
(1/2) white onion, sliced
(1/2) head of cauliflower, cut into medium florets
(1) 8 oz can water chestnuts
(1) 8 oz can bamboo shoots
16 oz frozen petite green peas
(3) 14 oz cans of coconut milk
3 cups water
2 oz fresh Thai basil, chopped
2 tbsp dried Thai basil, chopped
2 oz fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp green curry paste
2 tbsp red chili oil
2 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated
4 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
12 white cardamon buds, crushed
1 piece of cinnamon bark
1 cup white rice (before cooking)
Cooking Directions:
Rice: Place rice, cardamom, cinnamon bark and appropriate amount of water in
steamer and cook for 35 minutes.
Vegetables: Combine coconut milk, water, curry paste, onion, ginger, carrots, potatoes,
and chili oil in large sauce pan. Place on medium heat, bring to simmer for 10 minutes.
Add water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, cauliflower, snow peas and dried seasonings.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in parsley, basil, and green peas and lower heat,
cover and simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes and
serve over steamed rice.

Sweetness of coconut milk and brown sugar combined with warming spices (chili oil,
black pepper, cumin, curry) energizes middle burner. Ginger harmonizes middle, xforms
damp. Simmering warms the cool nature of the vegetables. Carrots, peas, and potatoes
strengthen Spleen. Aromatic spices move qi, invigorate spleen. Steamed rice
harmonizes Stomach, strengthens Spleen, stops diarrhea.

Requisite action shot!

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!)

Foods to help boost Spleen Qi

D.R. created our inaugural spread, and what a spread it was!  She outdid herself, creating a calming, therapeutic environment in which to eat this healing food.  She even used yellow utensils and plates (yellow being the color of the Spleen in Five Element Chinese Medicine) and used LED tealights and sounds of nature MP3 for ambiance!  She requested that we do a 2 minute meditation before eating, and then we all ate in silence for 12 minutes (chewing our food very carefully).  What an experience!   Here are the details of D.R.’s project below, in her own words::
~  ~  ~  ~

TCM Pattern: Spleen Qi Xu (Spleen Qi Deficiency)

  • Western Diagnosis/ Correlation:: Diarrhea, gastroenteritis, anemia, gastric/duodenal ulcer
  • Signs & Symptoms:: poor appetite, fatigue, sallow complexion, abdominal distention, loose stools
  • Pulse:: weak
  • Tongue:: pale, thin white coat, possibly swollen, teeth marks as condition worsens
  • For Dietary Therapy Choose:  Foods that are warm, neutral and sweet, chewed well in small to moderate amounts, or congees or soups.
  • Avoid: Raw foods, salads, salsa, milk, cheese, and excesses of fruit, juices, and sugar.
Today’s Menu:
  • Sweet potatoes with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Brown Sugar (small amount)
  •  Black beans with Leeks and Black Pepper
  •  White Beans with Carrots
  •  Yellow squash with Black Pepper
  •  Brown rice
Cooking Methods chosen:
  • Baking  supplies yang energy
  • Boiling/Simmering Prolonged boiling at several hours at medium/high temperature adds yang energy to yin foods although vegetarian stews can decrease the energetic process over time so warming spices can be adds to increase yang energy.
  • Frying with little oil high heat/short time (similar to woking)- supplies food with yang energy.


Sweet potatoes: clean poke holes in to vent,
                          Bake at 325 degrees x 1 hour,
                          Peel put in mixing bowl
                          Add dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, and brown sugar to taste
                          Mash to soft consistency adding water as needed until desired consistency
Black beans:  canned or dry-cook beans in their own juice add water as needed
                      2 medium leeks cleaned and cut to desired size
                      Black pepper to taste
                      Boil over med heat until soft, decrease heat to low and simmer 3-6 + hours
White beans:  canned or dry beans
                       Cook beans per instructions in their own juices
                       Carrots cut into ¼ inch pieces
                       Black pepper to taste
                       Boil over med/ high heat until soft, decrease heat to low and simmer 3-6 + hours; add vegetable broth if desired
Yellow squash:  clean cut into ¼ inch pieces,
                            Heat pan to high with small amount oil and spices red/black pepper, dash sea salt, fry quickly until slightly browned and soft turning frequently.

In Chinese Medicine it is recommended to eat foods in a relaxed atmosphere, chewing each bite at least 10- 15 times before swallowing.  Positive emotions generally promote good qi flow and during meals allow free flow of spleen qi to support smooth transportation for transformation to begin.  Negative emotions may block smooth digestive qi flow for spleen and stomach.

Of note in dietary therapy for spleen, any strengthening of blood also will supplement the spleen.

The classic texts recommend:

“When angry, it is easy to swallow food, but hard to digest it.  When sad, it is hard to swallow and digest food.  When experiencing strong emotions, it is advisable to delay eating until they have disappeared.  Foods should always be ingested at the proper time, this makes it easier to digest them.  Delaying eating and being able to digest food is better  than eating too soon and not being able to digest.  Digestive problems are accompanied by trouble, while good digestion frees a person from worry.  It is not advisable to eat when strong emotions are brewing.”

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