In my last post, I shared an Acupressure Point that I found personally useful during panic attacks, palpitations and shortness of breath that I suffered just after I had children 16 years ago. Even though they are teenagers and way more stressful now, I have learned and used many different tools to balance my body so that the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline don’t flood my body and fry my mind.
I’m grateful for the work I do, which is using a Japanese Bodywork system called Shiatsu. In a very calm and peaceful environment I listen to clients bodies, interpret the symptoms and treat the body accordingly, using acupressure points, meridian stretches and dietary advice conforming to the five element system of Chinese Medicine. I love having a toolkit of different techniques with which to balance the body. So here I share a simple recipe which helps to calm the mind and bring the heart home, aiding sleep and relaxation. It worked well for me when I thought I had to think of everything. I went through a phase of feeling that if I wasn’t on top of all my work, it would fall apart. My mind often wouldn’t let me sleep. It wouldn’t turn off. I spent hours where instead of falling asleep I would run through future scenarios and presentations. Irrationally my mind thought it could control outcomes, if only it thought of them all, especially in the middle of the night. It was exhausting, physically and mentally. This was in the 1990’s when I was just embarking on my Shiatsu journey and my teacher introduced me to the power of lettuce as a natural sedative and it really worked. I would drink the tea in the early evening and I would find that my sleep was better. If I did wake in the night I would take a shot of pre-prepared Lettuce Juice in the fridge and I’d go straight back to sleep.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, Lettuce has a bitter flavour and so benefits the heart. The heart is said to be where our Shen, our consciousness, our spirit lives. so eating foods with this flavour such as herbs, radish, beetroot, chicory, endive, and pomegranate will help heart function and provide a home in which the Shen spirit can settle. Helping with insomnia, heart palpitations, anxiety, overthinking and restelessness of the mind
It all sounds very poetic but believe me it works. Lettuce contains a chemical called lactucarium which is the white milky substance you see when you break the leaf along the stem. As opposed to opioids this substance has no harmful side effects. Try and see for yourself. Pour a litre of boiling water over the outer leaves of a head of Romaine or Butterhead lettuce, simmer in a pan with the lid on at a low temperature for ten minutes, strain and drink. It’s a very refreshing tasting tea whilst being able to physically relax the body, relieving fullness in the chest and tightness in the mind.
Chinese Medicine is over 4000 years old and the 5 elements give a system where we can understand your symptoms and the cause of them. If you would like to find out more you can read all about the system in Shiatsu & the Art of Conscious Cooking. This lists all the five elements, their flavours, times of the year, emotions, ailments and offers recipes plus acupressure points to transform them.