The following is a question emailed to me recently following one of my cookbook demonstrations. “Hi Jo -After you had left the class someone said she forgot to ask you what food you recommend for people with vertigo.”

Over the last week I have had a succession of similar questions, cases and light bulb moments that all relate to dizziness, light headedness and insomnia. So it must be time for a post…

In Chinese Medicine general dizziness, fainting and palpitations are all caused by the “shen”, the consciousness not being housed in the heart blood. This in itself can be due to a variety of reasons but in the main I often find that when the blood isn’t strong, vital and healthy it is hard for consciousness to settle and it becomes scattered in its energy causing symptoms of insomnia, fainting and dizziness. Sometimes there maybe blood deficiency because of excessive bleeding through heomorage or menstruation, also if the blood stagnates and doesn’t circulate but here I want to focus on blood deficiency, when the blood is not able to nourish organs and functions of the body. Whilst this has similarities to the Western diagnosis of anaemia it is not quite the same as it refers to many other functions of the blood rather than simply too few red blood cells.

In Chinese medicine everything in the body is in service to the heart. Unlike all the other organs which transform or excrete substances, the heart sits like a king receiving the dues and protection from the body. Like a king or queen, s/he governs the overall realm to give vibrancy and life to blood. It is in the heart blood that the “shen”, our consciousness, is said to reside. If it is a wise ruler they have perspective and can see the whole picture. They don’t get involved in battles that will be detrimental to the kingdom just to bolster their kingly pride or ego. They do what is best for the realm. A healthy heart doesn’t attach to eternal objects and people or internal emotions in the same way. It has perspective to see the bigger picture and act from a place of love not simply self gratification. That’s why east or west it’s the connection to the heart we often use as a symbol for true love. It’s not the self gratification or self serving love but the wise Solomon style love that says “May all beings be well may all beings be happy.”

So that’s the esoteric, energetic thoughts but what can we eat to become a king or queen in our own body? What can we eat that will build the blood and bring our heart home… Noodles well not just noodles, there are a whole range of ingredients that build blood in Chinese Medicine but the following recipe is my favourite of the moment and covers quite a few of the bases. Common foods for increasing blood strength would include a lot of animal proteins however that is not essential as the vegetarian recipe below shows.

Three Colour Noodles (taken from the book Ancient Kitchen, Modern Wisdom

  • 1 handful wakame seaweed
  • 1 bundle noodles
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 50ml rice vinegar
  • 50 ml tamari sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 spring onions

All seaweeds are good for the blood and wakame seaweed contains high levels of Vitamins, Calcium, Magnesium, Iodine to build blood strength and as an effective diuretic reduces water from the blood and therefore blood pressure. Often wakame comes dried and ready cut but for this recipe I recommend the uncut long variety as it blends together well with the noodles and brings extra texture.

Seaweeds and Buckwheat noodles are great source of easily absorbable protein. Eventhough meat products contain high levels of protein often they pass through the body without being digested and absorbed. Pound for pound some surveys reveal that 30% of the protein in steak is absorbed whereas 90% of protein found in seaweeds and blue grean algae such as spiriulina are absorbed by the body.

Buckwheat is not a wheat product or a grain as it sounds but rather the triangular seed of Fagopyrum esculentum plant, related to rhubarb. It lowers blood sugars more slowly than rice or wheat products which is beneficial for the inflammation of the blood vessels and contains rutin, a mineral which can further assist in lowering blood pressure.

I have substituted tamari for the Soy Sauce in the original recipe as its fermentation process in production may have the ability to bring vitamin B12 and other amino acids to the body which further builds blood and can be hard to access as a vegetarian. Finally the vitamin c in the raw carrots aid the absorbtion of minerals and especially iron into the blood.

How to Make: Firstly soak the seaweed in a little water to rehydrate then add the noodles to boiling water. These should take 3-5 mins depending on your brand. Meanwhile chop the spring onions into thin lengths. The carrots I like to use a peeler and shave off lengths. Mix these into the rice vinegar, tamari and sesame oil which have already been blended in a large bowl. Strain the cooked noodles and add to the bowl along with the hydrated wakame and toss so all the ingredients are combined and chow down.

In the original request for advice the person forgot to ask the question when they met me and so I would also look at the stomach and spleen which is responsible for mental recal and for digesting food and creating blood but that’s enough information for now so until the next post …… may you be happy may you be well …..

Joanne will be teaching recipes for a Healthy Heart from a Holistic Vew on Saturday 28th June 2014.