Nourishing Herbs for Traditional Holiday Meals

Herbs add flavor and nourish our spirits.  We are going to look at 5 Chinese herbs that can be used to cook with during the holidays to help heal different aspects of our emotions and our spirit based on Oriental Medicine.  We carry emotion with us from day to day and when we cook sometimes we don’t realize our emotions go into our food.

5 elements

The 5 elements are: Fire ⇒ Earth ⇒ Metal ⇒ Water ⇒ Wood



By Guillermina Galvan

Associated with each element is the spirit yin organ.  Fire is the heart which houses the Shen better known as the soul which encompasses all the parts of our spirit.  The heart’s emotions are love and trust.  Earth is associated with the spleen which houses the Yi, the spirit organ of mind and thought.  The spleen’s emotion is anxiety.  Metal is associated with the lungs which houses the Po, the spirit organ associated with the corporeal soul whose emotion is grief.  Water is associated with the kidneys the house of the Zhi, the spirit of willpower and the emotion of fear.  Wood is associated with the liver that houses the Hun, the ethereal soul which reincarnates and the emotion is anger.

How does this relate to our cooking of holiday meals?  When we are overburden by eating too much food we have food stagnation, this can cause an imbalance within our body.  Stagnation in the body causes irregular emotions along with physical manifestations such as: bloating, nausea, diarrhea and constipation.  All the herbs listed here help alleviate food stagnation.  Included are associated emotions, in case you want to focus on helping heal something specific for your loved ones during your holiday meals.

Cardamon (Bai Dou Kou)

Targets:  lung, spleen, stomach

Emotion:  grief, anxiety

Spirit:  Po, Yi

Flavors:  spicy, warm, aromatic

Cook:  bread recipes, rice recipes or add to smoothies raw

Functions/Indications:  alleviates food stagnation, moves qi (energy), strengthens stomach, stops vomiting, relieves nausea

Contraindicated:  avoid if you are anemic

Garlic (Da Suan)garlic

Targets:  large Intestine, lung, spleen, stomach

Emotions:  difficulties releasing the past, grief, anxiety

Spirit:  Po, Yi

Flavors:  spicy, warm

Cook:  thinly sliced garlic with almonds and virgin olive oil on low heat to simmer -use as a dressing for salads, thinly sliced garlic cooked with asparagus and coconut oil -as a side dish

Functions/Indications:  alleviates food stagnation, kills parasites, disperses abscesses, reduces swelling, expels toxins, warms stomach, resolves toxicity, diarrhea, tinea of the scalp, natural antibiotic/antifungal

Contraindicated:  do not use if you get heat sweats during the night

Magnolia Bark (Hou Po)

Targets:  large Intestine, lungs, spleen, stomach

Emotions:  difficulties releasing the past, grief, anxiety

Spirit:  Po, Yi

Flavors:  bitter spicy, warm

Cook:  place a few pieces in a gauze pouch and cook it with your vegetable soup the last 20 min then remove

Functions/Indications:  alleviates food stagnation, moves qi (energy), warms center, transforms/dissolves phlegm, descends rebellious qi (hiccups, nausea, vomiting), calms wheezing, chest/abdominal distention/fullness, diarrhea, cough, wheezing

Caution in pregnancy

Radish Seed (Lai Fu Zi)

Targets:  lungs, spleen, stomach

Emotions:  grief, anxiety

Spirit:  Po, Yi

Flavors:  spicy, sweet, neutral

Cook:  rice recipes or can be added raw to salads

Functions/Indications:  disperses food stagnation, eliminates distention, descends qi (hiccups, belching, vomiting, nausea, acid regurgitation), reduces phlegm, fullness and distention, abdominal pain with diarrhea, cough, wheezing

Contraindicated:  should not be dry-fried, do not take long term

Hawthorn Fruit (Shan Zha)Cardamon

Targets:  liver, spleen, stomach

Emotions:  anger, stress, anxiety

Spirit:  Hun, Yi

Flavors:  sour, sweet, slightly warm

Cook:  added to pumpkin pie (remove seeds before placing a few in), or prepare as tea

            How to make hawthorn tea:

Take a handful of dried hawthorn berries place in 1 L of water and soak for 20 min.  Then bring to a boil over medium heat, simmer for 20 min.  Strain to allow to cool, sweetening to taste.  Ideally with natural sweeteners approved for your diet by your Healthcare Practitioner i.e. raw stevia or honey if you are not diabetic or hypoglycemic.  After cooled place in fridge –lasts about 3 days in fridge. 

Functions/Indication:  reduces food stagnation, transforms blood stasis, diarrhea, hypertension, coronary artery disease, elevated serum cholesterol, abdominal distention/pain, postpartum abdominal pain

Contraindicated:  pregnancy, weak stomach spleen

Chinese herbs can make an amazing holiday meal beneficial to the emotions and spirits of your loved ones.  Take the time to prepare your meals with the right intention while in a fabulous mood.  Then all that wonderful energy will go into everyone who eats your meals—making the holiday season even more filled with love and happiness.

Chat Now With: Guillermina Galvan

Chat Now With: Guillermina Galvan


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