Healthy Foods for Fall

traditional chinese medicine foods for fall

The season of fall brings cooler weather and shorter days. As with any season, the world adjusts accordingly. Plants begin to go dormant, animals begin scrounging for food to store to get them through the upcoming winter months and humans start winterizing everything.

As fall descends on the land, it reminds us we need to start cutting back on the numerous cooling foods that are consumed during the summer months. Things like raw foods, salads, juices and fruits should be decreased because they can create too much cold in the body, according to traditional Chinese medicine. continue reading »

Five Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Statistics show eight out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back. continue reading »

Cinnamon-Walnut Congee

Cinnamon-Walnut Congee – makes 3-4 servings

See below for more about the wonderful health benefits of walnuts and their importance in Chinese Medicine.

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup uncooked short-grain rice, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
4-5 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
1-2 teaspoons honey or other natural sweetener, or to taste (optional)

1. Combine the walnuts, pecans, rice, salt (if using), and water in a pot.
2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered with the lid slightly ajar, for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little extra water if the congee is drying out and/or threatening to stick to the bottom of the pot.
3. Add the cinnamon and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
4. Add the honey, if desired, then serve.
5. ALTERNATIVELY, just put everything in a crock pot like John does and let it cook overnight!

Anyone with cold extremities, weakness, impotence, diarrhea, low back pain, poor memory, insomnia, or frequent nighttime urination.

This dish harmonizes the Heart and Kidneys, augments the Kidney essence, and strengthens the Spleen qi.

Kernels of TCM Wisdom: Nuts for Nutrition

(The recipe for this season is Cinnamon-Walnut Congee.  Here is a great article about the health benefits of nuts from a Chinese medicine perspective:  www.china.org.cn/health/2009-02/03/content_17214585.htm)

Eat nuts for your heart, brain, and reproductive system – that’s where your “innate essence” is stored. “Warm” energy nuts are especially good in cold winter.

Nuts are a well-known health food and traditional Chinese medicine recommends nuts as part of a healthy diet, especially in winter as nuts are hot/warm yang energy foods. Eating nuts when it is cold can help reinforce energy, though eating too many nuts in warm weather can cause excessive internal heat.

Nuts are loaded with vitamins, nutrients, and unsaturated fatty acid and can help promote heart health, reduce cancer risk and fight problems of aging, according to Western medicine.

TCM considers nuts especially good in reinforcing the kidneys (the term for kidneys and the reproductive and urinary systems). Nuts promote brain health, sharp thinking and generally build up health.

All nuts are good for you. Walnuts, almonds and chestnuts are especially popular and part of TCM dietary therapy.


Nutrition: Rich in protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Most of the fat in walnuts is linoleic acid, a nutritious unsaturated fatty acid that helps lower cholesterol and prevent hardening of the arteries. The vitamins B and E and phospholipid in walnuts can help delay cell aging and improve memory. Microelements like calcium, zinc, cooper and chromium are essential for metabolism.

TCM function: Walnuts are a “warm” food that benefits the spleen (the term for the digestive system), reinforces blood and kidney energy, nourishes lungs and benefits spirit (the term for brain function). It is widely used to relieve coughing, frequent urination and poor memory.

The surface of the walnut resembles the crinkled brain surface, so it is believed to benefit the brain. This is based on the ancient theory that eating things that resemble parts of the body can actually benefit that body part.

Walnuts also nourish the skin and help prevent gray hairs, according to “Kaibao Bencao” (“Materia Medica from the Kaibao Era”) by Liu Han, TCM doctor in the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Eating a few walnuts every day as snack is recommended for everyone, but don’t eat more than 100 grams, lest it cause indigestion. Eating a few when you feel tired can act as a pick-me-up, relieving fatigue and stress.