6 PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE IN EVERY DAY LIFE

(A TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE)

Practicing and living in Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts isn’t hard!  It’s actually all about what you consume, when you consume it, your lifestyle (which includes sleeping patterns, weather considerations, what you let in and out of your body), and ultimately paying close attention to your body through observations (we’ll talk about how you can stay sharply attuned to your own body, including some part that’s intuitive!).

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

What about Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts help me?

In the end, TCM is about finding balance in the person as a whole.  While I know primarily it addresses more the physical construct of the body, it also does support the mental portion in some ways such as calming the spirit and calming the mind.

Paying attention to so many of the little things (that may seem obscure and external) are actually more important than you realize.  TCM is built on a holistic (and more natural) approach that is more general than specific.  For example, looking at yourself as a whole system that is interconnected in all its parts (like your family doctor) rather than having a heart doctor (cardiologist) only look at the heart.  This is because TCM will not look at the heart in isolation and say, oh the heart has a problem!  There usually are challenges and connections with other organs, blood and Qi flow, imbalance of yin or yang in various states.  

Drink warm water first thing in the morning

  • I want to cover temperature first (even though I know this article is about flavour).  As the stomach is the first place where food is received for true processing (in which it’s converted to a vital nutrient), cold foods will put a strain on the stomach as it will then need additional energy to heat it as the digestion process needs warmth.  This then means this energy is pulled from other organs and parts of the body that could have otherwise be used for something more useful.  And, we have control of what temperature the food goes into our body!  You can check out this video on why I drink warm water (all day long) and especially first thing in the morning when I wake!  Honestly, I even drink warm water on a run or ride… it’s weird, but did take some getting used to!

Use warm ingredients over cool

  • You can check out this post on the warm and cool ingredients of Chinese soups as a start
  • As the stomach is the first place where food is received for true processing (in which it’s converted to a vital nutrient), cold foods will put a strain on the stomach as it will then need additional energy to heat it as the digestion process needs warmth.  This then means this energy is pulled from other organs and parts of the body that could have otherwise be used for something more useful.  And, we have control of what temperature the food goes into our body!  You can check out this video on why I drink warm water (all day long) and especially first thing in the morning when I wake!  Honestly, I even drink warm water on a run or ride… it’s weird, but did take some getting used to!

Relax!  The flow of your Qi can is impacted by tension in the physical (and mental) domains

  • Qi is essentially the “energy” that flows within us.  It is also known as “life force” or “vital force”, but in modern day physics, it’s known as energy.  In modern day physics, there exists a continuum between matter and energy and flows throughout the universe.  TCM also similarly follows these concepts.
  • Qi for the body is what helps us move, transforms, transport, protect, warm up, and raise up things within the body.
  • For example, the liver is associated with Qi and when the Qi is good in the liver, it helps us move our blood and Qi around the body, creating good flow so that nutrients and blood can flow where it needs.
  • In contrast, if you are tense, you clench your fist, there is tension in your body (or mind), this affects the flow of Qi (and blood) and because we are preventing liver Qi from flowing, we may get headaches, foggy minds, tension headaches, stomachaches, digestive issues.

User observations rather than “tests” 

  • There’s a balance between understanding and deciphering your own intuition about your body versus what tests can tell you about what’s happening in your body (for example, blood tests, MRIs, scans)
  • This is why a Chinese doctor will look at everything in totality, including pulse, skin color and texture, tongue size and color and moisture, the color of your eyes and brightness.
  • Sometimes, you just feel your tongue is rough and feels bumpy, well that’s a great initial indication of excess yang (or yin deficiency) and heaty conditions in the body

Protect the body from cold and wind (conditions)

  • These are known as external pathogens
  • Cold is what increases yin and also counters what the body is naturally – warm (in temperature)!  By introducing cold elements into the body and even exposure to cold wind and weather, the wind can enter through the skin and our pressure points (you’d be surprised how many we have on our bodies that are potential exposure points!), you’re utilizing your Qi and energy (in an inefficient way) to stay warm.  This is inefficient use of your energy, which is similar to how your stomach needs more energy to warm up cold drinks and food you put into it.
  • A great example of this is how cold and wet hair, if it sits too long, ultimately does penetrate into the body and that’s why you hear old Chinese ladies tell you to not go outside with wet hair, or to dry your hair in the roots (at a minimum).  With wet and cold hair, this introduces both yin and dampness into the body, both of which create imbalance.

User observations rather than “tests” 

  • There’s a balance between understanding and deciphering your own intuition about your body versus what tests can tell you about what’s happening in your body (for example, blood tests, MRIs, scans)
  • This is why a Chinese doctor will look at everything in totality, including pulse, skin color and texture, tongue size and color and moisture, the color of your eyes and brightness.
  • Sometimes, you just feel your tongue is rough and feels bumpy, well that’s a great initial indication of excess yang (or yin deficiency) and heaty conditions in the body

See the mind and body as connected and whole rather than separate.  See the organs as connected and shared, rather than as individual organs.  Think of yourself as one unit, one system.

You are whole.

 

The great thing about understanding how yin and yang is balanced is that this also pairs with the cooking styles of Chinese soups!

You can follow this post on “How Different Styles of Chinese Soups are Made“.

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

For further reading, I’ve found some more scientific and published articles.  Here are some to read up on: 

EQUIPMENT USED

To answer your questions on what equipment I'm using, I've built a section here where you can find and explore what I'm using to make soups.  Ingredients are a little harder, but I will do my best as I source them around.  However, you can always message me on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or Facebook, and I will reply and try to point you in some direction!  

A great help for fish or small bones in soups, including small ingredients such as barley, fox nuts, spices just to keep everything together.

A MUST HAVE in the kitchen!  Energy saving, cost effective, and perfect for busy chefs!  Check out my article here that explains it.

Another MUST HAVE in the kitchen for soups!  It's so fine that it will scoop off the top oil and foam layer when using meats in your soup!

I use these types of stove top safe tea pots to make most of my herbal teas!

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