Have you ever wondered why some people catch more colds than others? or why you tend to catch colds more in the autumn? or most importantly, how you can protect yourself against those colds and flu’s?
Well, I share some of my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to show you why and how.
Just like western medicine which talks about our Immune system – Chinese Medicine has talked about Wei Chi for thousands of years. It’s the energy that forms a powerful boundary around your body, defending you against invading virus’s and pathogens. Chinese medicine likes to describe the body as a kingdom where each of the organs have particular roles: The Heart is the Emperor, the Lung is the Chancellor in charge of regulation, the Liver as the General for planning and executing orders and so on…… the Wei Chi is the wall that fortifies and protects the kingdom within.
If your defensive system is robust and the pathogen weak, you don’t get sick. But if the pathogen is strong, and your boundaries are weak, the higher the chance the invading virus makes it into your body and you “catch a cold.”
There are a few strategies to improve your defences such as good sleep plus being in-tune with your environment and dressing appropriately but most importantly, within the kingdom of your organs there must be balance.
What I do as a Shiatsu practitioner is to listen to your body and diagnose which of your organs is out of balance; what is too Yin and needs support or what is too Yang and needs calming, thereby creating harmony in your internal environment.
Without specialised training, you can do this by simply paying attention to your symptoms and following the 5 element system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, laid out clearly in my book, showing you what needs Yang warming and moving and what needs Yin cooling and nourishing.
As we move into Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, we can experience extreme external changes of cold winds, warming sunshine and drenching downpours, all in one day, so it is important to keep the internal system in balance.
Following the 5 element system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the pungent flavour moves and warms the internal body. It moistens the Lung & Large Intestine, the organs associated with this season and largely responsible, together with the Spleen, for the strength of Wei Chi Immunity. They stimulate blood circulation and prevent the accumulation of internal dampness which can be pernicious in Autumn.
These pungent foods include onions, scallions, radishes, ginger, wasabi mustard, garlic and horseradish. Here I share one of my favourite Autumn recipes from my first, smaller 5 element cookbook – Vegetarian French Onion Soup, which strengthens the Lungs, warms the Large intestine and fortifies your Wei Chi.
All through the month of October in Chi Flow with Jo every morning we are practicing Qi Gong exercises, recipes and acupressure points to benefit breathing. In November we will move specifically to focus on the Immune system. Doors are closed to join Chi Flow with Jo until Sunday 24th October but you can join the wait list and receive free classes at the end of the month. (see form below)
If you can’t wait that long you can always buy my books which lay out clearly what foods to eat for which organ and time of year or why not book an online consultation or in person Shiatsu if you’d like a personal diagnosis.
In the meantime try this wonderfully warming, pungent soup and fortify your inner kingdom
Vegetarian French Onion Soup
25 g butter
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1.5 kg onions
Large sprig of fresh thyme
4 crushed Bay leaves
Good splash of toasted
2 pints miso stock (to taste)
Melt the butter together with the oil, add the onions and fry for a minute or so on a high heat. Give them a shuffle and a stir, making sure the butter doesn’t burn and the onions don’t stick.
Throw in the herbs, bay leaves, a splash of sesame oil and turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting leaving the lid on. The onions need to cook for at least 20 minutes until they are a toffee colour and sticky consistency. Pour in the miso stock and simmer for at least another 20-30 minutes.
The longer the better. A slow soup in the making but worth the wait.
As you are cooking the miso, you retain the delicious flavour, but will kill most of the probiotic contained within the paste. So just before cooking use a mug to remove some of the soup, dissolve a further tablespoon of miso into the mug of removed liquor, turn off the heat and stir back into the soup. Remove the twiggy stalks of thyme and serve with delicious spelt bread which is the following recipe in Shiatsu & the Art of Conscious Cooking.