Traditional Asian, Chinese and Macrobiotic Medicine
practitioners often stress that to achieve and maintain
good health one needs to tend to one's physical, emotional
and spiritual well being as well as caring for others.
Treatments of various forms such as shiatsu/acupressure,
acupuncture, energy healing, etc. can help greatly and
at times are deemed necessary. Yet, they are meant to
be conjunct with daily fundamental practices of healthy
eating, regular movement, exercise, and active work.
These comprise a personally and socially interactive
Dietary guidelines and recommendations are devised
on the basis of Traditional Chinese and Macrobiotic
intake and diagnosis for general use and/or for one's
specific and personal health needs of body/mind. Food
Energetics and Diet therapy involve the removal of foods
that perpetuate the imbalances at hand, and supplementation
with food types which help heal and correct the imbalance.
Chinese Medicine and Macrobiotics liken the body's
environment to that of nature. The practitioner observes
and assesses the possibilities of phenomena manifesting
within the body. Phenomena include cold, damp, wind,
heat, dryness, and yin and yang harmony, along with
the synergistic emotional and spiritual manifestations.
When these present themselves in what is termed either
"excess" or "deficient" amounts,
the mind, body, and spirit can be adversely affected.
Each food type is understood to have warming, cooling,
drying, moistening, descending/ascending, and yin and
yang qualities. Some foods act with more than one energetic
influence. A simple example is that if an individual
is seen to have internal heat, the practitioner is likely
to choose foods that balance and create more internal
cooling in order to help disperse the heat appropriately
for that person's condition. The guidance includes foods
for the particular health concerns if any, the season,
emotional needs, and energy needed for daily work and
life. The practitioner assesses the person's ability
to understand the recommendations and to practically
implement them into their lives.
Through the lens of the 5 Elements, looking at the
whole person and their environment, we apply the way
food is chosen, prepared, and consumed, and how this
impacts the type of energy-Qi-that the body produces.
The effect of food on the state of well being is paramount.
An understanding of Food Energetics plays a vital role
in creating harmony and is a powerful and very useful
tool towards restoring balance. Self-empowerment should
be encouraged and inspired to be a goal for the person
receiving guidance and treatment.
Food Energetics and Diet therapy are not necessarily
concerned with weight loss, although it is known to
help tremendously. It brings about internal organ balance
and strengthens the underlined organic weaknesses so
that the foods ingested are transformed with the least
amount of strain on organ/energy output, while providing
the maximum dietary benefit to build essential body
essences as Qi, Fluids, and Blood.
While looking at the 5 Elements (a magnificent and thought
provoking study containing easy and complex insights)
and their relationship in health, nutrition, and healing
we need to be cognizant of the reality that there is
no fixed or static method to understand others and ourselves.
We need to be flexible with our knowledge and to continually
activate and be in touch with our intuition and spiritual
higher selves for solving problems and for creating
the most value from them.
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
This is harmony." Quote from the Tao DeChing
Recommendations for Nourishing the Elements:
A preferred time to nourish an element is considered
to be through the nourishing/parent element, which is
the preceding element/season.
Spring is when living things begin to grow and express
expansive yang qi. The external influence of wind may
invade a person making one vulnerable to colds, flu,
or a relapse of a past illness.
The sour taste in moderation nourishes the strength
of liver Qi as in citrus, lemon, pickles, sauerkraut,
yogurt, plum, umeboshi, liver, leeks, barley, wheat,
chicken, and leafy greens with especially the sharp
taste such as watercress and scallions.
If liver Qi is stagnated the emphasis is on lightly
cooked foods with more sharp and pungent tastes and
less dense foods as dairy, meat, and baked flour products.
Some recommended foods include lemon, pickles, dandelion,
spinach, corn, celery, onion, lettuce, mustard greens,
yam, barley, wheat, sesame seeds, dates, peanuts, onions,
cilantro, bamboo shoot, mushrooms, and quinoa.
Emotions, negative-anger, resentment, frustration,
irritability, bitterness, "flying off the handle".
There may be a tendency for unresolved frustrations
to emerge in inappropriate ways as arguments, negative
expressions towards others, and impatience with oneself
often related to unfinished projects or perceived failures.
From a Buddhist or psycho-spiritual view what we feel
are failures are potentially great opportunities to
re-establish our self-confidence, to see the benefits
of the experience and to create new seeds and goals
for our future.
Balanced wood energy is reflected in our ability to
manifest patience and compassion, foremost towards ourselves
while reaching out to help others from a base of a smooth-unfettered
life force to create peaceful, affirming dialogue, relationships
Also See Water.
In the summer heat is rising and in order to maintain
good health it is important to restore and maintain
normal levels of yang as well as to balance one's health
with yin, cooling influences and foods.
The bitter taste nourishes the heart Qi as in dandelion
root and greens, sesame seeds, celery, quinoa, scallions,
asparagus, alfalfa, citrus peel, wine, lamb, and apricots.
If heart Qi is overly yang the emphasis is on lighter
grains and cooking styles, cooler foods as salads with
dandelion, lots of alfalfa tea, light leafy greens such
as nisuma, sprouts, tofu, natto, and less or no spices,
baked foods, or alcohol.
The daily diet should contain more cooling preparations,
salads, vegetables, and fruit to stimulate the appetite
and provide fluids. One should avoid heavy, oily, and
very salty or sweet foods. External influences of summer
heat and dampness are common in summer causing people
to be sweatier, thirstier, and more irritable and tired.
Emotions, negative-lack of enthusiasm and vitality,
mental restlessness, depression. There may be a lack
of lightheartedness or ability to laugh and enjoy life;
or, the opposite-constant laughter and incessant chatter.
Balanced fire energy is reflected in the ability to
emanate joy and to experience and show a love of giving
and receiving for oneself and others. The more we honor
and put love and joy into our own lives, like a magnet
the more love is available to come to us-from various
people and sources.
Also see Wood.
In late summer yang is still prevalent while yin qi
begins to predominate as we are cooling from summer.
Nature is in its central position of balance as it quiets
the fire and moves deeper within, preparing for autumn.
The sweet taste nourishes spleen and stomach Qi as
in pumpkins, cooked onions, squashes, sweet potato,
peach, dates, apple, cherry, beef, millet, almonds,
coconut, and cooking with mirin or maple, barley, or
rice syrup. One may increase animal foods as the climate
begins to cool.
If spleen Qi is deficient the emphasis is on more root
vegetables and longer cooking styles, using easy to
digest yet strong dishes such as Oden Stew or Congi
with brown rice or millet. Avoid dairy and damp, heavy
foods such as cakes and ice cream. The movement of fire-active
foods will help replenish. Chewing food and eating smaller
meals will strengthen earth energy and therefore our
digestion. One should be conscious that eating excess
fruits and oils in the summer may give rise to mucus,
phlegm and discomfort in the late summer affecting the
stomach and lungs.
Emotions, negative-worry, dwelling or focusing too
much on a particular topic, excessive mental activity,
and work. Sitting for long periods of time can deplete
earth Qi. The negative splenic disposition can be one
of suspicion, that is, lack of trust in oneself or others.
The flip side of this is a tendency to be overly sympathetic
and to easily become co-dependent on others.
Balanced earth energy is manifested by reliability,
composure, empathy, and an inner sense of self-value,
all which help create trust of and from others in our
Also see Fire.
Things begin to fall and mature in autumn; yin qi continues
to predominate and yang qi to wane.
It is advisable to eat more food with pungent, salty,
sour, and sweet tastes.
The pungent taste nourishes the lung Qi as in raw or
lightly cooked onions, mustard greens, daikon radish,
ginger, less oily fish, mustard, soy beans, lotus root,
cloves, cayenne, basil, mint, tofu, rice, salads or
steamed veggies with lots of greens, wheatgrass juice,
pear and an increase of sea veggies such as hiziki,
wakame, and kombu which will strengthen the blood, and
circulation of qi.
If lung Qi or large colon are sluggish or congested
a remedy is a ginger or mustard compress on the back
shu point area-between the shoulder blades-of the Lungs
or for the colon on the lower back or Hara-lower abdominal-area.
(Use compress only if you know it is safe at that time
or if recommended by an experienced guide.)
Pungent foods assist the lung Qi to disperse. Sour flavors
are cool in energy and tend to move downward benefiting
the lungs' descending function. Salty foods are necessary
in moderation all year and at this time they can be
increased to assist the oncoming winter/water season.
A focus is to moisturize internal dryness caused by
lack of body fluid from dry heat and/or a dry climate,
and thus help restore normal lung function.
Emotions, negative-grief, sadness, detached. There
may be a tendency to suffer loss and not feel able to
let go when it is time to move on from a challenging
Balanced metal energy is manifested in an openness to
life's experiences, being flexible, able to forgive,
and to truly let go of past painful attachments, to
create, and to accept new people and experiences, prosperity,
and abundance in one's life.
Also see Earth.
This is the time when yang qi becomes latent and yin
qi dominates and we need to conserve energy and build
strength to be ready for spring. Storing our reserves
is vital for the strength of our kidneys. It is advisable
to eat more food with salty, sour, and bitter flavors.
Eating excess glutinous, uncooked, and cold food damages
the kidneys, spleen, and stomach, and should be taken
in moderation. Foods with more oils help to retain warmth.
The salty taste nourishes kidney Qi as in sea veggies,
sea salt, aduki beans, black soybeans, burdock, pork,
fish, walnuts, black sesame seeds, dark leafy greens,
figs, kombu tea, shiitake, cucumber, reishi, and daikon.
If kidney Qi is deficient nourish with combined sea
and land vegetable dishes such as dried daikon in stew
or dark leafy greens in fish stew.
Nourishing kidneys, which are highly active in winter,
strengthens their storage function helping to preserve
their essence, which means preserving core life energy.
Although individual sea vegetables can be targeted
for nourishing each element this rich source of minerals
is highly important for nourishing and strengthening
the kidneys, bones, and blood. Use hiziki, kombu, arame,
wakame, dulse, nori, black fungus, kelp and more.
Emotions, negative-fearful, weak willpower, insecure,
aloof, and isolated. There may be a tendency to hold
in one's dreams and goals, to withhold sharing with
others, and to have little faith or confidence in one's
ability to make things happen in life.
Balanced water is manifested when the desire, will,
and courage to manifest movement and changes in life
are prevalent. Self-confidence is known to be housed
in and reflected by our kidney Qi which becomes strong
from foods, exercises such as qi-gong, and spiritual
growth, as well as the courage to find, believe in,
and move towards our higher goals and dreams. When we
positively activate and direct water energy the planning
and manifesting stages of wood and fire become active
and the spiral of change continues to flow.
Also see Metal.
The Nourishing cycle shows around the circle
The Controlling cycle shows inside with arrows
Water Wood Fire
Wood=Green/Liver/Gall Bladder=Parent-Nourishes Fire=Child
of Water Controls Earth
Fire =Red/Heart/Small Int.-Ht Gov./T.Heater=Parent-Nourishes
Child of Wood Controls Metal
Metal=White/Lung/Large Int=Parent-Nourishes Water=Child
of Metal Controls Fire
"The Five Elemental Energies of Wood, Fire, Earth,
Metal and Water encompass all the myriad phenomena of
nature. It is a paradigm that applies equally to humans."
The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (second
May we all be fully nourished with abundant health and
Krieger, L.Ac., MS, Diplomate of the NCCAOM in Acupuncture,
Oriental Medicine and Shiatsu-Asian Bodywork Therapy,
MEA in Health and Nutritional Counseling and Teaching.
Founding Member and Certified Senior Shiatsu Instructor
of the AOBTA. Susan has been treating and guiding thousands
of people throughout her 30+ years in practice. She
is an internationally recognized practitioner, teacher
and counselor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Contemporary
Macrobiotics, Asian Healing Arts, The Energetics of
Foods, Medicinal Remedies, Whole Health Nutrition, Women's
Health, Qi-Gong Yoga, Ki-Shiatsu-Acupressure, and Meridian-Self
Shiatsu of over 33 years. and teaches in the US and
Canada and Europe.
She produced The Ki-Shiatsu Instructional DVD and lectures
for the UN, universities, acupuncture, cooking and bodywork
schools, hospitals, women's organizations, corporations
and health and healing centers. Susan has an active
private practice in New York City.
For queries and to invite Susan to present for your
events she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone- NYC 212.-242-4217 www.susankriegerhealth.com
Posted March 2008
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