Traditional Chinese Medicine – the basics.

Although almost everyone has heard of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the majority of people can’t tell exactly what it is and the fields it covers. TCM isn’t just one form of medicine, it’s an all-encompassing Asian vision to become and stay healthy. It breaks down into several medicinal methods such as acupuncture, a series of Asian massages, forms of movement, and the Chinese nutrition- and herbal philosophy. This article will teach you the basics of this last area.

When it comes to health, it’s all about balance. This is the base of everything within Traditional Chinese Medicine. Chinese doctors and experts believe that our body exists out of Meridians, or easier said: energy pathways. When these flow smoothly and correctly, and thus are balanced, you’re considered to be a healthy individual. Logically, this also applies the other way around: when the Meridians are blocked you’ll probably be suffering from some health issues. To keep the right balance within the Meridians, the Chinese believe that food plays a substantial part. You’ve probably heard the saying that food is equal to medicine, and is, therefore, the best tool for creating and maintaining good health. Let’s dive into this vision some more.

The connections within our body.

Our body knows a total of 14 Meridians that flow through as energy (Qi). 12 of these pathways exist of a Ying and Yang pair of organs, where the Yin organs are connected to Yang organs.

In turn, all of these organs are connected to five natural elements – wood, fire, water, metal, and earth – that are linked to the five seasons of the Chinese calendar; spring, summer, mid-summer, fall, and winter. Are you still following it?

And then we get to the part where food comes in; every kind of ingredient and all herbs connect to these elements, and therefore it is connected to the organs and Meridians. In short; the right foods, adjusted to the elements – and thus the seasons – keep our energy pathways flowing smoothly, balanced, and healthy. And just like that, every season has ingredients that are most beneficial to eat.

The perfect food for summer.

We’ll close off this article with some practical food tips for the summer months. This is the season where the sun is at its highest, connected to the element fire. The heat makes us move and sweat more, that part of a detox process. According to TCM, the summer is linked to the Meridians connected to the heart, small intestines, and paired organs, which makes it the best season to cleanse them. 

Due to the warm weather, our body retains heat and loses lots of fluids by sweating. Eating the right foods can restore this balance and counter associated complaints such as constipation. Cucumber, tomatoes, celery, watermelon, and also vegetables that wouldn’t pop up in your head as quickly such as eggplant does the trick. An additional benefit of eating these ingredients is their ability to lower blood pressure.

To counter the ‘fire’ in our body, it’s also beneficial to eat lotus seeds and bitter squash – also called bitter gourd. This last vegetable isn’t that known in the Netherlands yet but is immensely popular in the Surinam, Indian, and (of course) Eastern cuisine. Lastly, high temperature is the perfect circumstance for bacteria to reproduce, and that’s not what we want! Try adding garlic, onion, leek, or chives to your summer dishes as these ingredients are perfect for battling the reproduction of bacteria.

A final tip to close off with? Where you would think cold products such as ice, would relieve your body from its high temperature, the exact opposite is true. It will in fact give it a sign to work harder, which will only lead to an increase. Instead, try to eat a bit more spice this summer. This helps boost our metabolism and therefore abduct unhealthy substances from our bodies.