Ever wondered what gives Christmas meals that “Christmas-y” flavour? Many Christmas dishes are made with similar herbs and spices, and believe it or not, some of these herbs and spices are actually commonly used in TCM.
If you take a look at the recipes for Christmas turkeys, Christmas hams, fruit cakes, ginger breads etc., you may easily find ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, fennel seeds, star-anise or nutmeg.
These spices are used in TCM as well, and have the common property of being “warm” in nature. From the TCM point of view, it is practical to use “warming” herbs for Christmas meals to warm up the body during the winter.
What can warming herbs do for the body?
1. Reduce Pain
How Cold Causes Pain
In TCM, a common cause of pain is the presence of “cold”. It is believed that “cold” freezes up the Qi and Blood in our body, resulting in a poor circulation of Qi and Blood. Without sufficient Qi and Blood flowing to a certain area, that area cannot receive sufficient nourishment, thus leading to pain (this is a somewhat similar concept to frostbite).
Warming herbs work by introducing heat to reinstate proper flow of Qi and Blood, thus eliminating the pain.
Cold ➙ poor Qi and Blood flow ➙ pain
Here are some examples of pain that can be managed using warming herbs.
Cloves and cinnamon can relieve menstrual pain caused by “cold”.
Cloves, star-anise, nutmeg, fennel seeds and ginger are known for warming the stomach and relieving cold pain in the stomach.
Painful lower back:
In TCM, the lower back is closely associated with the Kidneys, and a lack of Yang energy in Kidneys may cause lower back pain. Since cinnamon is well known for warming the Kidneys, it can be used to relieve lower back pain caused by Yang deficiency.
Cinnamon – good for replenishing Kidney Yang
2. Warm the body, treat "cold" ailments
What Happens When There is "Cold" in the Body?
An organ that is "cold" (due to a lack of Yang energy or an attack by “cold” pathogens) can function inadequately and display symptoms that are characteristic of “cold”. For example, insufficient Yang in the spleen may cause digestive problems (poor digestion, bloating, diarrhea) and cold pain in the stomach. Symptoms can be worsened after taking cold food or drinks. Warming herbs help to restore the proper function of the organs and alleviate the “cold” symptoms by replenishing the Yang energy or expelling the cold pathogens.
Urinary incontinence due to insufficient Yang in Kidneys:
One cause of urinary incontinence is a lack of Yang energy in the Kidneys. This is often accompanied by symptoms such as feeling cold easily or having a sore waist or back. Cinnamon is one of the many herbs used to replenish Kidney Yang and promote better control of urine output.
Poor digestion due to insufficient Yang in Spleen:
Dried ginger can be used to replenish spleen yang to treat poor digestion, loose watery stools etc.
Vomiting due to cold in stomach:
Cloves and ginger are often used to warm the stomach and spleen to relieve vomiting.
These are some examples of how the appropriate food can support our health. When in doubt, please consult your TCM practitioner for dietary and home remedy recommendations.
寒凝气血 ➙ 气血不通 ➙ 不通则痛