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Herbal Explorations

Crossing The Barrier: Applying TCM Food Therapy to American Cuisine

By: JK DeLapp

"It is clinicians that go by the book, and artists that go by their gut. Extreme measures are where science ends and art begins. Good surgeons, especially emergency trauma surgeons, I think, are great artists." --Grey´s Anatomy

A great cook is both a surgeon of the soul, and an artist of the spirit.

For months now my lovely editor, Rosie, has been asking me to write an article addressing weight loss. Since the Fall, I´ve been encouraging my readers to begin slowing down--and through the Winter, to all but stop rigorous activities. With the end of Winter in sight, and Spring heralding on the horizon, the months and months of "waiting on the weight" is coming to a close!

The timing of this is perfect for two big reasons…First off, Winter is a time of Stillness—Spring is a time of Activity and Opportunity. Secondly, the number one New Year´s Resolution in the US is to lose some weight in the New Year. Trying to start something in the Heart of Winter is pretty much begging for either failure--or exhaustion. What better time, after 3 floundering months, than to start the Process of Change within the Season of Activity and Opportunity!?

With that being said…writing this article has been such a challenge! (And a fun one, at that!) Entire books have been written on this subject—extensively—here in the West, as well as in the Eastern Lands on the other side of the pond. So how exactly am I going to boil this down to an article that can be read in a single sitting…while still touching on everything that should be touched on? That´s a good question…!

Closing Out Winter—A Time of Stillness—and Preparation

During Winter, we put our Bodies and Minds and Spirits to rest. At least, we´re supposed to. And I suggest you keep doing that till Spring´s arrival. Failing to do so is like dipping into your savings…burning yourself out from the bottom up. This time of rest, however, is a great time for planning.

If we think of Spring as a time of Activity and Seizing of Opportunity…we can think of Winter as the Resting of the Troops and Planning of Attack.

Spring officially starts on March 20th this year, and there is a Full Moon to be joining us—I take that to mean that this Spring will be starting with an unusual amount of Yang…so it´s like a cannon catapulting us forward. This last month of Winter can be likened to loading the cannon.

So what is it we can do in this last month of Winter in preparation for Spring? Fortunately—not only are these few things a great way to begin the process of weight loss, but they are also a great prep for the Spring Season as a whole!

A Quiet Mind, an Open Body, a Nourished Spirit

The way I see it, there are three overall aspects involved in weight loss, and all three of them involve Cleaning and Ordering, so to speak.

There are many ways to approach this. So many studies have been done, so many books written. It´s daunting to even begin to write about it! Haha...but I´m going to try and break this down to a simple, digestible message. No pun intended.

Quieting the Mind:

There is no price you can put on a mind at rest! I know this from experience...

A quiet Mind is a hard thing to find these days. I have more patients, friends, and family members that have never heard silence. Their minds run ceaselessly. It interferes with their ability to focus, to think, and sleep.

Look at a cat or a dog as it sits in a window. Observing the outside, for hours at a time in a single sitting—all with no fidgeting. They are the perfect meditators. Watching them will help you begin to understand how peaceful a quiet mind can be. And they should also encourage you—if they can do it, so can you!

Without a quiet Mind, the Body and Spirit don´t have clear operating orders. When the Mind is in chaos—so too are the Body and Spirit. The first step in losing weight, in my opinion, is to stop losing your Mind.

Two things to think about: If the Mind resides in Heart, then the Emperor is disturbed, and so will be all of his Council. If the Mind resides in the Brain—the Sea of Marrow, and Governed by the Kidneys—then how little rest we are giving our Water Element! All those thoughts are burning Jing! Either way…it´s a heavy concept to think about.

There are several things that can be done that, over time, can begin to Calm the Mind. Many of these are self-explanatory.

Orderliness: Spring Cleaning. No need for U-Haul´s of mental baggage.

Openness: Rid the Mind of thoughts + Rid the House of Clutter = Opening the Channels.

Focused Intention: Yoga, Martial Arts, Cooking…this list is endless. Focus = Clarity.

Incense: Can fall under focused intention—but I really can´t preach this one loud enough.

I am more and more fascinated by incense. The real thing really is the Real Thing. (Did someone just whisper Coca Cola???) I watch the effect it has on my roommates and friends…burning some will calm everyone almost instantly. Soothes over fights, sets a mood, clears the atmosphere…the people who make the stuff are like herbal magicians! I´ve mentioned them before, and I´ll mention them here again—I really like Shoyeido (www.shoyeido.com). Nothing is synthetic. Everything is made by hand. And most of the herbs used are Kampo-grade, which literally makes them herbal formulas taken through the nose!

Opening the Body:
The body is an interesting one. We are taught that weight gain and weight loss is all about calories in and calories out. I understand the concept, but I don´t fully identify with it—or fully believe it.

I really do believe that having a healthy body and a healthy weight is more easily conceptualized as a Feng Shui concern of Openness. Think about our transportation system…A highway with paved lanes, open channels, and free flow is a highway that can easily handle its passengers without a problem. A highway with potholes, accidents, bottlenecks, and poor planning is a highway that clogs and backs up. That clogging and backing up is "traffic"--often manifested as weight gain. It is an issue of free flow. Traffic in the body leads to Phlegm/Damp.

Another way we can think of weight gain is as a Dampness and heaviness weighing and wearing down the body. It will make sense why peoples of the past have kept "lighter" meals—meals not laden with overly Dampening foods like excess consumption of anything, such as: too many fried foods, too much dairy, too much meat, too much alcohol, or even too much wheat—the most difficult to digest of the grains, over time weakening the Spleen and Stomach. All of these Dampen the body, the organs, and their associated channels.

It´s an interesting concept to think that in the past, being overweight was a sign of wealth, as your "richness" could literally be seen in your body. But I no longer believe this image equates to the modern concept of "richness," as many of our foods are empty foods—bereft of any benefit or nutrition, grown on synthetic stimulants, hormones, and fertilizers. This kind of weight gain is an empty gain—a Gathering of Empty Growth, so to speak, from all the growth-stimulating additives in our foods. You can even feel the difference—in someone who is just a large person, they will feel solid. But empty weight gain will feel soft to the touch—not firm, but soft like bread dough. This is Dampness.

Ultimately, this type of weight gain can be seen as a manifestation of deficiency. As the body becomes more and more depleted of Blood and Yin (Grow! Grow! Grow!...the message from our empty foods inoculated with growth factors), it produces Dampness in their absence to try and fill in the gaps. I think this is why so many overweight people don´t look deficient, per say—nor is their deficiency often seen in the pulse, as the Dampness can mask those signs. Their body has filled in the Deficiency of Vital Substances with Dampness in an attempt to Cool the Deficient Heat.

Think of it from a 5 Element perspective—as the Water Element wears down (Kidney Jing/Yin/Yang deficiency), the Kidneys lose their hardness, and the body is overcome with softness. The organs lose their ability to maintain the firmness of the areas they govern. The Kidney Deficiency "flat tire" around an abdomen is the easiest visual. This happens with all of the Elements. The integrity of firmness is lost and replaced with sponginess.

What I´m trying to say is—weight gain (and I might even say many cancers—as it is an inappropriate growth, often of Phlegm/Damp)—are a byproduct of inappropriate growth stimulation from our modern artificial agriculture and food system. The foods and animals are artificially grown large, but are lacking in any substance. This overtaxes and ultimately depletes our organs. An overweight person is often grown large—and with a fine eye, will be found to lacking the Vital Substances.

This is in large part why eating clean, organic, wild-crafted, wild-caught, pastured, chemical free meats and vegetables is so important. Being largely free of synthetic growth factors, they allow your body to "normalize" to the rate of growth that it should be living at, helping you to drop weight naturally, and reestablishing the Vital Substances in the body. Healthy organs will hold the body firm.

So what am I to do?

The first thing that I think needs to be done is to eliminate the Excesses in order to see the full extent of the Deficiencies. And the best way to do this is with herbs.

Generally, Winter is not the best time to do anything that is draining. However, a little gentle cleaning of the temple (draining a pathogen) can be a great thing to do in preparation of the coming Season of Activity—as Cleanliness and Orderliness lend themselves to Uninhibited Activity.

A fine eye will have to be kept to see where there is an Excess—usually of Damp and Heat, or Phlegm. Many of these Excesses are often Latent Pathogens, often found to be Cold after all the Heat has been excavated.

**When we say weight gain can also be an issue of Cold—that is more an issue of an underlying Deficiency (most usually Spleen and/or Kidney Yang Xu Cold), as most overweight people have a great deal of Cold underlying all of their Heat. (Many Americans overdo cold foods—namely ice cream. Oddly, that Invasion of Cold produces Heat, which, once Cleared, will reveal the underlying Cold in the Stomach) Once the Excess in the organs is Cleared, this will be seen more clearly in the patient´s signs and symptoms.

These formulas often don´t have to be taken for long, but if they do need to be taken for more than a few days—lighten up on the doses. Maybe even just take them 2-3 days out of the week over a period of a few weeks to lighten the burden on the Spleen and Stomach, as well as the organs being addressed.

Often, these patterns do not present themselves classically. For example—I have had a Latent Heat in my Stomach and a retrograded Heat in my Spleen, which has taken me quite a bit of time to isolate (with all the other BS that needed to be resolved…which is funny—I always wanted to be an archeologist). There´s no fever, no chills, no sweating or absence of sweating…nothing classical about it—just thorns on the tip of my tongue and quite a bit of agitation that is often agitated by alcohol or coffee (which I don´t even consume all that much, let alone all that often). Oddly, I took a few rounds of Xiao Qing Long Tang (Minor Blue Green Dragon)-which isn´t even for Latent Pathogens…and it was the first time some of my digestive issues started to clear up, and some of the exacerbation by alcohol and coffee began to dissipate. This is odd—because those are warming foods, and Xiao Qing Long Tang is for a Wind Cold Invasion. I think you get the point…sometimes we have to think outside the box that we´re already thinking outside of.

Sometimes it is Cold, and not Heat that we have to think about. And sometimes we can´t see the Cold until after we´ve Cleared the Heat. Don´t be surprised to find a Latent Cold lurking behind the Latent Heat. With that being said…let´s look at some Heat!

A few formulas we normally don´t think about:

Xie Bai San: to Drain Heat from the Metal Element due to Smoldering Heat and Lung Xu. Often modified to protect the Spleen. Symptoms include skin that feels hot to the touch (and will be worse in the afternoon), cough or wheezing with fever, dry mouth with sputum that is difficult to expectorate. Grind it to a powder and cook it with rice, and eat this before meals—or decoct and drink.
30g Sang Bai Pi
30g Di Gu Pi
3g Zhi Gan Cao
30g Geng Mi (non-glutinous rice) *for decoction—otherwise, omit and cook with rice for eating.
Modified to protect Spleen: Fresh Ginger 1-2 slices

Xie Huang San: to Drain Smoldering Fire from the Spleen. In Japanese theory, Diabetes is viewed as Heat that has retrograded back into the Spleen. This can be a great formula to help Diabetics—or anyone whose blood sugar likes to do summersaults. Some symptoms you may see to trigger your thoughts for this formula are: mouth/cheek ulcers, sores, or swollen cheeks; frequent hunger; tongue thrusting due to Stomach Heat (or a restless tongue), as well as dry mouth and lips. This formula can either be decocted for 30-60 minutes (reduce the quantities for this), or ground into a powder and toasted lightly with honey and wine (3-6g drafts). The amount below is for grinding and toasting:
15g Shi Gao
3g Zhi Zi
120g Fang Feng
21g Huo Xiang Ye
90g Gan Cao

Qing Wei San: to Drain Heat Accumulation in the Stomach. This is for an actual Excess condition—not Excess due to Underlying Deficiency. There is not yet any Stomach Yin Xu in this pattern. Great for toothaches, post-dental surgery, and even post-face lift. Symptoms for this Stomach Heat Accumulation are often really bad breath, dry mouth, problems with your eyelids due to Heat (infections, for instance), bleeding gums or gum sores, toothache that is not due to Wind Cold or Kidney Xu (and the pain will often extend through the channel, or up to ST 8), or a swollen or painful tongue, lips or jaw. Acne along the eyebrow UB line, ear SJ line, and facial ST line are not uncommon. This is also a great formula for cold sores. Can be decocted, but was historically ground and taken as a draft and allowed to cool before drinking. Dosages: Draft (Decoction)
1.8g (3-6g) Huang Lian
3g (3-6g) Sheng Ma
1.5g (6-9g) Mu Dan Pi
1g (6-12g) Sheng Di Huang
1g (6-12g) Dang Gui

Yu Nu Jian: to Drain Stomach Heat with underlying Stomach Yin Xu—which began as Stomach Fire Injuring Kidney Yin. Symptoms for this Stomach Heat with underlying Stomach Yin and KD Yin Xu will be: toothache (from KD Yin Xu), loose teeth (from Yin not Being Firm), bleeding gums, frontal headache, irritability, and thirst with a desire for cold beverages. This formula can be decocted and taken for 2-3 doses a week for 1-3 weeks, as it is very cold on the Spleen.
15-30g Shi Gao
9-30g Shu Di Huang
3-6g Zhi Mu
6-9g Mai Men Dong
3-6g Huai Niu Xi

Dao Chi San: to Clear the Heart of Heat in the Heart or Small Intestine Channels. In my opinion, much of the Heat in the HT or SI channels will clear pretty quickly if the other channels are cleared. However, if there are urinary problems stemming from HT Heat leaking into the SI channel, or sores or bad acne looping around the mouth—then this may be the correct formula. Be cautious using this formula with SP/ST Xu, as it can be a little wearing. Can be ground into powder and taken as 9g drafts, or decocted in full.
15-30g Sheng Di Huang
3-6g Mu Tong
3-6g Dan Zhu Ye
3-6g Gan Cao Shao (the Gan Cao tips—which are especially good for the bladder)

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang: to Drain Damp Heat from the Liver and Gall Bladder. In my experience, people wanting to lose weight often have gummed up Livers and Gall Bladders. Personally—I think emotions, diet, and latent pathogens are the main culprits here, as our emotions tie us up, our diet tends to gunk up these organs, and many Latent Pathogens (often viruses) like to hide out in our LV/GB. If this is the case that you see, all the better to clear it out, as the coming season is the Season of the Wood Element—The Liver and Gall Bladder. How much better to proceed with a clear train of thought in these organs!

Symptoms you may see for this formula: red and sore eyes, hypochondriac pain, head ache, hearing loss, swelling in the ears (surfer´s or swimmer´s ear), bitter taste in the mouth, or irritability or a short temper (or as a teacher of mine likes to call it—"acting Irish").

Of the formulas, it is this one that may have to be taken the longest, as it can take a long time to clear out these two organs. Personally, it took me a rough period of 2 years to clear out some of the LV/GB Damp Heat that I had, for the sake of honesty—years of trouble with. Screw you, Latent Pathogens! haha
3-9g Long Dan Cao
6-12g Huang Qin
6-12g Zhi Zi
3-9g Chai Hu
3-6g Mu Tong

Xie Qing Wan: to Drain Constrained Liver Fire. This is for a Replete Liver—no Dampness present—just Hotness. Symptoms here include red, sore, and swollen eyes, restlessness or irritability, dark urine, and constipation. There may also be tremors or convulsions, as LV Heat can generate Internal Wind. It has been my observation that as Spring approaches and as the Liver gears up for its Season, there may be some Heat generated, or general irritability. The engine is just warming up. The natives are getting restless. If that is what you are seeing, then this may be a great formula to employ. Grind the herbs and form them into pills with honey. A lot easier and more fun than it sounds. One 6g pill (eyeball it) is to be taken twice a day with (or dissolved in) a decoction of Dan Zhu Ye.
30g Dang Gui
30g Chuan Xiong
30g Da Huang
30g Fang Feng
30g Long Dan Cao
30g Zhi Zi
30g Qiang Huo

15-30g Dan Zhu Ye should be decocted and taken with each 6g pill.

→Once the organs have been cleared, we can begin to support each of the systems more fully with our diet, and where necessary, with herbs to begin to rebuild the integrity of each of the systems. In all honesty, this should be done with the diet alongside the Clearing. A solid, nutrient-dense diet will help provide you with the Qi and Blood—the guts and ammo--for the war you are now waging against the junk we´re holding onto that is—no pun intended—weighing us down.

After all this is done and we begin to see more of a clear picture of what is going on, we can begin to think about some formulas that provide us with some guts and ammo. A few examples:

--Liu Jun Zi Tang: to Tonify the SP/ST to Drain Damp.
--Ba Zhen Tang: to Tonify Qi and Build Blood.
--Si Wu Tang: to Nourish Blood—and can be taken alongside any of the above.

**Swedish Bitters: to Regulate the Spleen and Liver. I think Swedish Bitters deserve special mention, as they Clear Heat by Regulating both the functioning of, and the relationship between, the Spleen/Stomach and the Liver. They Improve the Digestive Process, as well as Firm the Bowels and Regulate Movements (most overweight people are either constipated from Liver and/or Large Intestine Heat or have sloppy stools from a SP/ST Xu). In essence—they help to rid the body of digestive inflammation. I suggest anyone trying to lose weight and/or improve their digestion employ the use of Swedish Bitters.

Which brings us to Nourishing our Spirits!

Nourishing the Spirit:

When it comes to properly Nourishing the Spirit, there is no better way to do this than through our meals, as we Nourish our Spirit, as well as Nourish each of the Individual Spirits of each of the organs. Not to mention, since we´re talking about weight loss…who here doesn´t like to eat!?

Once we begin to see more clearly where our Deficiencies lie, we can begin to cater our meals to Nourishing the various elements that are in need of some TLC.

Here are some charts to help conceptualize:

Element Flavor Meat Grain
Fire Bitter &Lamb Corn
Earth Sweet Cow Grain
Metal Pungent Horse Rice
Water Salty Pig Bean
Wood Sour Chicken Wheat

Some things to think about:

--Balance is Key.
--Support one´s constitutional needs, yet provide something from every flavor.
--For Deficiency—Feed the deficient organ and the parent.
--For Excess—Feed the child and the grandparent.

Outward--Fire Upward--Wood Neutral--Earth Downward--Metal Inward--Water
Pepper Asparagus Tofu Barley Bitter Gourd
Cinnamon Beef Mushroom C. Egg White Clam
Clove Sugar Duck Egg Duck Crab
Fennel Carrot Eggplant Pork Kidney Hops
Garlic Chicken Egg Grape Sheep Liver Kelp
Ginger Corn Mung Bean Mussel Lotus Plumule
Green Onion Honey Radish Greens Pork Oyster Shell
Mustard Kidney/Liver Spinach Sweet Potato Salt
Nutmeg Rice Wheat Vinegar Seaweed

Some things to think about:

--For Exterior conditions—use outward and upward moving foods.
--For Internal problems—use inward and downward moving foods.

Hot Warm Neutral Cool Cold
Black Pepper Brown Sugar Abalone Apple Bamboo Shoots
Lamb Beef Chicken Barley Banana
Cinnamon Bark Fennel Carrot Tofu Clams
Ginger Garlic Peanuts Chicken Egg Crab
Green Pepper Green Onion White Sugar Eggplant Lettuce
Red Pepper Shrimp Oyster Wheat Kelp
Soybean Oil Lamb Pork Mushroom Seaweed
  Ginseng Rice Spinach Sugar Cane
  Raspberry Egg Yolk Mung Bean Watermelon

Some things to think about:

--Treat Hot conditions with Cooling foods.
--Treat Cold conditions with Warming foods.

Qi Blood Yin Yang
Beef Beef Abalone Kidney
Beef Liver Blood Clam Cheese Chesnuts
Chicken Chicken Eggs Eggs Chive Seeds
Fish Cuttlefish Crab/Clams Cinnamon
Eel Pig GB Duck Clove
Ginseng Pig Testes Liver Dill Seed
Red Beans Seaweed Rice Fennel
Spinach Spinach Tofu Green Onion
String Beans   Sugar Marrow
Zang Fu Foods:
Bitter Gourd Barley Tofu C. Egg Yolk Brown Sugar
C. Egg Yolk Chicken Carrot Cinnamon Chive
Mung Bean Chive Mushroom Cuck Crab/Clam
Mushroom Clove Corn Kidney Clove
R/G Pepper Garlic Honey Mussels Eel
Red Bean Ginger Peanut Lamb Liver
Salt Lettuce Rice Pork Oyster
Spinach Licorice Spinach Salt Yam
Wheat Lamb Vinegar Wheat Wine

Using these charts, keep in mind:
--The Constitutional Element of the individual—which we determine as practitioners.
--Once the Excess has been Cleared, look for the Deficiency.
--In Excess—feed the Grandparent.
--In Deficiency—feed the Mother.
--For prevention—feed the Constitutional Grandchild.
--Balance your meals in Direction, Flavor, and Energy for optimum health.

WOW—that was a lot of information…can we please talk about what the heck I´m supposed to do with all this info!?

That was a ton of information! Sorry about that. But it really is the basis of how to think about retraining ourselves in the way we think.

To sum up:

Quiet the Mind:
This will help to create the clarity and focus needed, both for our sound mental health, as well as to eliminate the noise in our lives that is undoubtedly causing us harm and leading us deeper into deficiency.

Open the Body:
By opening and freeing the organs and channels, free flow will be reestablished in our bodies. In so doing, unnecessary weight will begin to excavate itself from you. Beginning on March 20th (the First Day of Spring), I suggest revving up your exercise regimen. Be it yoga, swimming, or whatever it is that gets a rise out of you, this movement therapy will also begin to break up accumulations, ultimately returning you to a more optimal you.

Nourish the Spirit:
By eating real foods in their proper energetic balances and going organic to eliminate unnatural growth stimulants in our diets (and increase the nutritional values of our foods—i.e. the Vital Substances), we can reduce the wear and tear on our organs, filling in the Deficiencies, and naturally eliminating any Excesses.

This Month´s Recipes:

When eating to lose weight, don´t think so much about reducing calories as you should about reducing Phlegm and Damp engendering foods, like fried foods, too much meat, and alcohol--as well as eliminating Cooling and Cold foods, such as uncooked foods, salads, dairy, iced beverages, and ice cream.

For the above reasons, it´s also important not to eat anything cooler than room temperature. Room temp and warmer for weight loss!

A lot of attention needs to be placed on Nurturing your Spleen and Stomach. This means lots of cooked vegetables, well-cooked grains (but not too much wheat), easily digestible meats (like game fowl and fish), congees, and eating at appropriate times.

This means eating at proper (and regular!) times, not skipping meals, going heavier at breakfast and lighter at dinner, and not eating past 7 pm.

If this helps to visualize: 7-9am is the time of the Stomach—which is when it is at its optimal functioning. 9-11am is when your Spleen is functioning at its optimal level—which means you get your highest absorption and distribution. Eating late (i.e. 7-9pm) is the Midday/Midnight of your Stomach—the least optimal functioning of your Stomach…which is why it is important to eat earlier than 7pm. 9-11pm is the Midday/Midnight of the Spleen—the least optimal absorption and distribution (i.e. Dampness-engendering i.e. You´re gonna gain weight!). So eat dinner between 5-7pm. You´ll feel better, get more out of your food, lose weight—and sleep better! You´ll also actually be hungry for breakfast, which I find is a huge problem with folks…they eat so late that they haven´t fully digested their food and aren´t hungry when breakfast rolls around, which tends to throw off their eating regularity the following day.

Hawthorn Congee

Especially good for:

As is often the case with many overweight patients, Food Stagnation is commonly a condition that will be present. Chronic overeating coupled with a weakening of the Spleen and Stomach (and often incomplete chewing of food) can make it difficult for the system to properly pass food through the initial digestive process.

Congee, in general, is great for increasing the digestive fire, as well as alleviating stress on the Spleen and Stomach. As long as your Stomach is not burning too hot, this should be a great choice to begin Tonifying the SP/ST while Opening the Earth Bowel.

In China, it is commonplace to have a Shan Zha tea served with heavy meals. I´ve even heard that (served dried or rehydrated) Shan Zha berries are sometimes served at the end of a meal to help aid in digestion.

Of course, an occasional dose of Bao He Wan can help with the initial stages of Food Stagnation that so often accompanies overweight individuals.

This congee can be taken frequently for overweight individuals to help with food retention, as well as hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and Coronary Heart Disease.


30g Shan Zha (Hawthorn Berry)
30g Jing Mi (non-glutinous rice)

** I like adding just a little glutinous or semi-glutinous rice to a pot of this so it´s not so watery, which I think makes it a more fun dish.


1. Decoct the Shan Zha in an earthenware/ceramic pot. If you don´t have one—use what you do have.

2. Discard the dregs and use the liquid to cook the rice into porridge. **You can also cook altogether and just eat the Hawthorn berries, although beware of the Hawthorn seeds, as they are quite hard.

Fresh-squeezed Lemonade

Especially good for:

Lemons ever-so gently Clear LV/GB Damp Heat…gentle enough that it can be drunk every day. Doing so helps to flush the body in a gentle manner that is not draining and does not damage either the Qi or the Blood--and also helps to cleanse the Blood of metabolic waste as one is trying to lose some weight.

Lemons also have an astringent property that helps to bring Blood back to the Liver, and makes for a great sports drink, as this beverage is both hydrating and cleansing.

If adding some fresh mint, the mint´s aromaticness helps to give the Spleen a gentle kick, giving rise to a more proper functioning of the Spleen´s action of Transformation and Transportation. In other words, the mint helps with proper Fluid metabolism in the body.

Lemon + Mint = Gentle Elimination of Damp, i.e. Weight Loss.

I suggest drinking this beverage throughout the day. It tastes great, is gentle on the body, and will help you shed some of those unwanted pounds.


½-1 Lemon
Honey, to taste
Mint, fresh, if so desired


1. Halve and squeeze ½ to 1 whole lemon into a tall glass.

2. Add a few sprigs of fresh mint leaf, if so desired.

3. Top off with water.

4. Add honey to taste, and enjoy as often as you´d like throughout the day.

Oolong Congee

Especially good for:

This congee is great for helping to increase the SP/ST´s ability to digest what you eat, as well as clearing any gunk that has accumulated in the Large Intestine.

Wu Long Cha (oolong tea) has long been drunk in Asia to help digest heavy foods. It is also considered to increase metabolism.

Dong Gua Zi/Ren enters the Lung and Large Intestine to Clear Heat, Resolve Phlegm, and Eliminate Pus.

Chi Xiao Dou enters the Heart and Small Intestine to Promote Urination and Reduce Swelling, Clear Damp Heat, Resolve Blood Stasis, and Clear Toxic Heat and Drain Pus.

(Gan) He Ye enters the Heart, Liver, and Spleen to Clear Summerheat, Raise Spleen Yang (Raise the Clear), and Stop Bleeding in the Lower Jiao due to Heat or Stagnation.

Yi Yi Ren enters the Spleen, Lung, and Kidney to Drain Damp by Strengthening the Spleen and Raising Clear Yang, Clear Heat, and Drain Pus.

In total, this is a tasty, easy-to-make dish that can accompany just about any meal, or can stand alone as one. This makes for a great breakfast dish. Great for anyone with Spleen Xu and Damp—i.e., I wanna lose some weight.


10g Wu Long Cha—Oolong Tea, AKA The Black Dragon
30g Dong Gua Zi/Ren—Winter Melon Seed
15g Chi Xiao Dou—Red Adzuki Bean
20g (Gan) He Ye—Dried Lotus Leaf
30g Yi Yi Ren—Coix Seed, AKA Job´s Tears


1. Rinse the Job´s Tears, Winter Melon Seeds, and Adzuki Beans and then place them in your pot, ceramic if you have one.

2. Add plenty of water and cook until soft, approximately one hour. Some liquid should be left, as we want this dish a little soupy.

3. Wrap the Lotus Leaf and Oolong Tea in gauze, cheesecloth, or a very large tea ball, and cook with the other ingredients 8-10 minutes.

Flash-Roasted Game Hens on a Bed of Veggies

Especially good for:

All game birds will be Sweet in taste and more or less Neutral/Slightly Warm in temperature. They will enter the Spleen and Lung, Benefit the Five Zang Organs, Clear Heat, Drain Damp, and Promote Urination to Resolve Edema.

Winter Melon can be served with this dish if you´d like. Winter Melon Clears Toxic Heat, Eliminates Vexation, Dispels Damp, and Promotes Urination. Roasted, it tastes quite delicious.

Quail or Guinea Fowl are my favorite game birds to cook this meal with. They are fresh and tender, and available at most specialty butchers, Whole Foods, and many health food stores. They are quite a bit of fun to eat, and sadly are no longer regular birds to adorn our tables—so they make this meal feel exotic. They used to be a hunter´s staple in this country, so this is a throwback to the vibrant health of yesteryear.

I think we´ve all seen a movie or two about some New Englander going on a hunting trip for game birds (Wedding Crashers comes to mind)—these used to be staples throughout the US. Although not hunted so often anymore, they are usually available through many specialty grocers and from local farmers.

**Any game birds will do.
** If not available, chicken will work just fine.

Check with your local chapter of:
Slow Foods (www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/local_chapters/)
Weston A. Price (www.westonaprice.org/find-a-local-chapter.html)
Heritage Foods (www.heritagefoodsusa.com)


4 Game Hens, split in half (ask them at the counter to halve them)
4 onions, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 cups carrots, minced
+/- Winter Melon, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. crumbled dried thyme
2 tsp. crumbled dried rosemary
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup white wine


1. Preheat the oven to 500º F.

2. In a large roasting pan, combine the sliced onions, celery, carrots, winter melon, and about half of the olive oil. Sprinkle with about half of the thyme and rosemary and toss together to mix.

3, Onto this bed of veggies, place the game hen halves, skin-side-up.

4. Brush with the remaining olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining thyme, rosemary, and the salt and pepper.

5. Set aside until about 40 minutes before you want to eat. If you are serving an appetizer and/or soup, begin roasting just as you sit down to dinner. And take your time.

6. Place the pan on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.

7. Pour in the wine, stir the vegetables around a bit, and roast until the vegetables are cooked and the game hens are nicely browned - about 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Makes 4-8 servings, depending on how hungry you are.

**There is one book in particular that I really like about tackling the issue of Diabetes and Obesity. It is Diabetes and Obesity by Feng Wei-bin & Gan Guan-jie, and is printed by People´s Medical Publishing House. This book thoroughly covers each of the patterns that will be seen in patients. This can be a really complicated issue to tackle, but it doesn´t have to be. I think this book is a great tool in helping to simplify some approaches in treating our patients. *The Hawthorn and Oolong Congee recipes both came from this book.

Is there something that you would like to be learning about specifically as we journey through the season? Are there any types of foods or dishes that you would like to be learning more about? Any questions and queries that you may have–nuherbs Co. and I would love to hear about them. Please do send up an email–we´d love to hear what you have to say: herbalexplorations@nuherbs.com