Energetics of Food: Why is it Important?

yin_yin-yang_yang-imageThe energetics of food can be quite the tricky concept for the Western mind to understand. It’s definitely not impossible to understand; it’s more that the concept of energetics is a cross current pattern of thoughts that collide against the way in which most Westerners think about the food that they consume. I am one of these Westerners; my Western mindset gave me a lot of applicable and helpful knowledge. However, this mindset also led me astray when it came to my own health. I was so engrossed with consuming items that had phenomenal nutrient profiles that I had not considered the energetics of the food that I was eating. Once I accounted for the energetics of food, applied these Eastern concepts into my diet, and began Western nutritional supplementation, it was then that my health came back online.

energetics-apple

This image uses special photography to see the energetics of this apple. This is a real image of an apple. http://kirlian.com/

If you’re wondering, “what does the energetics of food even mean?” then please read this phenomenal series by Kaely Shull: Power of Energetics: Food as Medicine, Power of Energetics: Yin and Yang, Power of Energetics: 5 Properties, and Power of Energetics: 5 Flavors (Part 1) & Part 2. These blogs do an amazing job at exploring the dense, broad, and integral concepts related to this topic.

I am writing this blog post to share my personal experience with you: optimal health can sometimes require both Eastern and Western methodologies of medicine.

Over the last 8 years I have been attempting to widen my perspective to include ideas, concepts, and ways of being that are not aligned with my culturally adopted way of thinking. Chinese medicine—and the vital knowledge of energetics—has been one of the avenues which deeply expanded my thought processes, and more recently, has shifted me into better understanding how the energetics of food directly affects my body. To be completely honest, this transition into Eastern thinking literally feels as if my brain is turning inside-out and upside-down from its normal Western alignment. I feel like a ship lost at sea with only a half-working compass.

Not to worry though! Our minds and our bodies have the ability to make sense of this “lost” feeling. Eventually we can re-calibrate, and quite naturally, these two mindsets can learn to live harmoniously. The synergistic relationship between these two seemingly opposing ways of thinking can begin to inform one another and a new level of health can be established—one which would be almost impossible with either side being alone by itself. As with anything, this is an ever-growing process, and it is one that I am currently adapting to because of a recent health issue in my own life that has resurfaced from my past: dermatitis.

I’m currently 28 and this recent health issue, although in a new area of my body, was not something that I hadn’t experienced before. As a child I had extreme (well, to me) spouts of diagnosed eczema that had ebbed and flowed throughout my life and throughout different parts of my body. This form of dermatitis had been diagnosed and treated by Western medicine specifically via applying steroid creams and pharmaceutical liquids; this ‘fixed’ it for the time. After my body went through puberty my symptoms of eczema mostly stopped, and every once in a while since then, a small patch would show up in what seemed to be random parts around my body and I could not figure out what caused it. These small patches were minor and didn’t affect my daily life. I began to notice that my skin was my “Achilles heel” since I hardly got sick outside of skin issues, so I began changing my diet in the ways I knew best.

superfoodOver these last 8 years I have tried a multitude of different ‘healthy’ superfoods, drinks, smoothies, practices, etc. in order to optimize my own wellness and to detoxify my body from the things that I consumed before I became aware of the importance of food as medicine. However, my thought processes which lead me to these ‘healthy’ items was confined to my Western model of thinking—one which had overlooked the importance of the energetics of food, and instead, singularly focused on the nutritional profile. I was so busy seeking various superfoods containing abnormally high amounts of antioxidants, anticancer-agents, omegas, fiber, and protein that I unintentionally disregarded the importance of also utilizing the energetic qualities that were imbibed within these healthy sources: yin & yang, 5 properties, 5 flavors, 5 elements, and the 4 directions.

path_through_the_forest-t2My lack of applied knowledge, within the vital field of the energetics of food, led me astray. My hand flared a fiery red with inflamed dermatitis; the discomfort associated with this kept me from sleeping and was a constant struggle of attempting to rehydrate it will various oils; the less I slept, the more I stressed, the worse my hand inflamed. I then saw Donna, our practitioner here at East-West Wellness, and she reminded me of the importance of the energetics of food. After a month of this, I was finally able to see through the forest and know the path that I needed to take. I back-peddled through my mind to try to find where I went wrong. What was I doing that could have caused this to happen? If there isn’t a directly specific cause, then what things are feeding this fire on my hand?

Here lies one of the things that started the fire on my hand: my most recent blog posts (written 3 months before this blog and about 1 month before my hand flared) were written about the energetics of turmeric (Part 1 & Part 2). Turmeric has a plethora of amazing benefits for the body so I decided to prescribe myself ‘therapeutic dosages’ of turmeric. Even though I wrote this article with the intention of expressing its energetic qualities, I again still focused on the Western sense of a nutritional potency: I made a golden paste (highly condensed turmeric) and put this into most of my foods; I would sprinkle turmeric on almost every meal that I ate; I would also add it into my coffee and cacao drinks. I did this heavilTumeric and tumeric powder.y after I wrote that set of blogs, and then after a month of heavily consuming turmeric, my hand slowly exploded with dermatitis that got worse day by day.

Turmeric has a warming energetic constitution; this energetic quality of turmeric—even though it is also anti-inflammatory in Western terms—most definitely fed the inflammation on my hand. I also love spicy foods of all sorts, so naturally I had been consuming many spicy foods at the same time as this new influx of turmeric came into my digestion. Donna explained to me that the dermatitis on my hand has a hot energy to it (as it was obviously inflamed, red, and felt very hot in temperature), and therefore I should remove all energetically warming foods, begin to include more cooling foods, and to also use a topical neem cream with added vitamin D. I did all of this as well as ingested Chinese herbs prescribed by her which helped to clear the extra heat that I had in my system. After a blood test, I was also prescribed a few Western supplements to bring my nutrient levels back into an optimal state.

energetics-pear

Visual Energetics of a Pear

Almost two months later, after being urged to become aware of the energetic impacts of the food that I choose to consume, I now feel and see an immense improvement in my hand. The inflammation has receded, the pain has gone away, and my skin is beginning to feel normal again (FINALLY!). The miraculous thing about this improvement is that this improvement in health was able to occur during my most intensely stressful semester of college-level chemistry and biology (which was definitely among one of the causative factors).

All of this to say that by me shifting my perspective into applying the importance that energetics can play within my own body was a mind-body altering experience for me. Now, I can’t say that turmeric and warming foods were the only culprit—that is very obvious to me—as the ways in which I was dealing with my stress was also a contributing factor, and there were many other things that I had to become aware of (e.g. ingredients in soap, my need to increase exercise, etc.). However, I do feel that being armed with medical knowledge from a multitude of cultures, and now the direct experience of how the energetics within all foods affects my biology, became a key concept that allowed me to take control of my own health. This applied knowledge allowed me to be empowered in the decisions I make every day: what will I eat today? How will this food choice affect my energetics?

Now this doesn’t mean that I can never eat spicy foods or turmeric ever again—unless of course I took a food sensitivity test and found out otherwise. It does mean, however, that I need to learn how to balance my foods in relation to the qualities that these foods bring into my body. This is an art within itself; one that I am immensely excited to learn more about and integrate into my ever-evolving diet.

I know within my heart that this disruption in my health was a blessing in disguise. It is my hope that this experience can also be of help to those of you who read this. Feel free to post if you have any questions or comments =)

energetic-temperature-of-food

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Energetics of Turmeric: An Honourable Herbal Spice with a Multitude of Applications (Part 2)

turmeric-heart-320x209This blog on turmeric is part 2 of 2; if you haven’t read part 1 yet, then click here and check it out.

The use of turmeric as a spice, and as a household remedy, has been utilised across various cultures and has known to be safe for centuries. To date, no scientific studies in either animals or humans have discovered any toxic effects associated with the use of turmeric (Lao et al. 2006), and it is clear that turmeric is not toxic—even at very high doses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has conducted its own clinical trials with turmeric and published a 300-page monograph. The FDA has declared turmeric, and its active component curcumin, as GRAS (generally regarded as safe).

Turmeric has been scientifically tested in a multitude of aspects and has a substantial list of observed benefits. These health benefits span a wide range of useful applications: anywhere along the spectrum from anti-aging qualities to anticancer functions.

Turmeric has been observed to:Turmeric

-Support collagen production: collagen is the ‘glue’ that holds the body together. This connective tissue is the most abundant protein in the body. Turmeric also provides a mineral, manganese, which helps to rebuild/replace old collagen in the skin and elsewhere throughout the body—thereby keeping skin young-looking, soft, and less prone to wrinkles

-Help to hasten gallstones out of the gallbladder: great preventative for those whose family has a history of gallbladder stones/removal or those that may be on the brink of needing gallbladder surgery.

-Be at least 10 times more active as an antioxidant than vitamin E (Khopde et al., 1999). Extracts can scavenge free radicals, increase antioxidant enzymes, and inhibit lipid peroxidation (stops cell damage due to free radicals).

-Be antimutagenic: this means that its compounds can prevent the mutation of your cells & genes. If the body has too many toxins, free radicals, etc. then genetic mutations can occur; these mutations cause disease and illness. Because toxins lie within everyone’s bodies, ingestion of antimutagenic agents become imperative.

-Prevent damage to the liver (Miyakoshi et al. 2004) and also serves to protect the heart (Mohanty, Arya, and Gupta 2006)

 turmeric list Specific Ailments Turmeric is Beneficial for:

Turmeric is used as an herbal medicine for rheumatoid arthritis, chronic anterior uveitis, conjunctivitis, skin cancer, small pox, chicken pox, wound healing, urinary tract infections, and liver ailments (Dixit, Jain, and Joshi 1988). It is also used for digestive disorders; to reduce flatus, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, and colic; for abdominal pain and distension (Bundy et al. 2004); and for dyspeptic conditions including loss of appetite, postprandial feelings of fullness, and liver and gallbladder complaints.

It has anti-inflammatory, choleretic (increases bile/solids secretion), antimicrobial, and carminative actions (decreases gas/bloating) capabilities (Mills and Bone 2000). Turmeric targets the digestive organs: in the intestine, for treatment of diseases such as familial adenomatous polyposis (Cruz-Correa et al. 2006); in the bowels, for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (Hanai and Sugimoto 2009); and in the colon, for treatment of colon cancer (Naganuma et al. 2006). For arthritis, dosages of 8–60 g of fresh turmeric root three times daily have been recommended (Fetrow and Avila 1999). For indigestion (dyspepsia), 1.3–3.0 grams of turmeric root is recommended. No known interaction of drugs with turmeric has been reported by the monographs of the German regulatory authority, Commission E (Blumenthal, Goldberg, and Brinckmann 2000).

In a study with human subjects, the effect of turmeric was examined on patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When 1 or 2 tablets of turmeric extract were given daily for 8 weeks, the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome was significantly decreased, as was the abdominal pain/discomfort score (Bundy et al. 2004).

Turmeric volatile oil is also effective against respiratory tract disorders (pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, etc.) . The volatile oil is active in removing sputum, relieving cough, and preventing asthma. Thus, turmeric volatile oil may be an efficacious drug in the treatment of respiratory diseases (Li et al. 1998).

Anticancer Properties Observed:

cancerTurmeric inhibits cancer cell multiplication (cell proliferation), induces programmed cell death (apoptosis) of cancer cells, and thus has many anticancer properties (Azuine and Bhide 1994; Deshpande, Ingle, and Maru 1997; Garg, Ingle, and Maru 2008). This fact is vitally important because cancer’s main ability to grow and replicate is due to its cells having an ‘infinite’ life program. This means that it can continually replicate and grow without needing to live by the rules of other healthy, non-cancerous, cells. Therefore, turmeric combats cancer by attacking its main forms of living/growing/replicating.

turmeric pillsThese animal studies have also shown turmeric to fight against the development of skin cancer (Villaseñlor, Simon, and Villanueva 2002), breast cancer (Deshpande, Ingle, and Maru 1998a), oral cancer (Azuine and Bhide 1992a), and stomach cancer (Azuine and Bhide 1992b). Turmeric prevents the formation of cancer at various steps, including inhibiting mutation (Polasa et al. 1991), detoxifying carcinogens (Thapliyal, Deshpande, and Maru 2001), decreasing cell proliferation, and inducing the death of tumor cells (Garg, Ingle, and Maru 2008). Certain organic chemicals within turmeric are able to infiltrate cancer cells and destroy them from the inside out: this process can be likened to well-trained ninjas; the cancer cells have no idea that they have invited in those who will destroy them. Even though these studies were all observing turmeric on animal subjects, it seems that multiple cultures throughout history—over a 4,000 year span—have had phenomenal reasons to apply this medicinal herb into their diets.

Further Health Benefits:

Would you like to increase the functioning of your gut? Turmeric acts as a potent digestive stimulant. As a dietary supplement, it enhanced the activities of pancreatic lipase, chymotrypsin, and amylase; each of these are important digestive enzymes that reside in different parts of the digestive system. Moreover, turmeric mixed with other spices such as coriander, red chili, black pepper, and cumin brought about a pronounced stimulation of bile flow and bile acid secretion (Platel et al. 2002). Mixing any of these singular herbs with turmeric creates a synergistic relationship where each herb becomes more effective. Increasing the bioavailability of turmeric in this way will induce higher amounts of bile flow which allows for the liver to detox more effectively, lessens the likelihood of gallbladder stones, and simultaneously increases the effectiveness of the digestive process.

Turmeric Golden Paste Recipe:Turmeric-Paste

-1/2 cup – turmeric powder

-1 cup – filtered water (estimated; might need more depending on desired thickness)

-1 1/2 tsp – ground black pepper

-1/4 cup – high quality cold pressed organic oil of your choice (olive, avocado, coconut, etc.)

 

Directions:

-Gently heat water in a pan (do not use Teflon coated or aluminium pans, if possible)

-Add turmeric powder & ground black pepper into the pan as it heats

-Gently stir until you get a thick paste (~6-10 mins)

-Add oil & stir more

-When you have desired thickness, then turn off the heat and allow to cool

-Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks

As stated earlier, black pepper assists turmeric in becoming highly bioavailable which helps it to be more effective within the body. The added oils will allow for the stomach to more easily absorb and assimilate the golden paste.

This paste can be used as an herbal remedy when feeling a flu or cold. It can also be used as a way to prevent illness and keep your immune system healthy and within the optimal range. Turmeric paste can be mixed with milk or water an d taken to treat intestinal disorders, colds, and sore throats. This paste can be eaten by itself, added to coffee, a smoothie, or your favorite dish. Get creative and enjoy!

Check out this website or this website for further information on ways to use this golden paste =)

 

Resources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/

http://www.turmericforhealth.com/

Organic Non-GMO Turmeric

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Energetics of Turmeric: An Honourable Herbal Spice with a Multitude of Applications (Part 1)

Turmeric is the root structure used from the Curcuma longa plant (a leafy plant that is related to ginger). It has an extensively long history of medicinal use which dates back 4,000 years and spans a multitude of cultures. turmeric_600Modern medical sciences are beginning to recognize its importance: there are currently over 3,000 scientific publications researching turmeric—all of which have been published within the last 25 years. So, what’s the health buzz about?

Turmeric has been found to be a potent anti-agent-for-almost-everything: antioxidant, antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, antitumor, and anticancer. Furthermore, turmeric helps to protect the heart, lungs, kidneys and assists in protecting the body from radiation exposure. Combining turmeric with foods has also been shown to assist—and effectively improve—the digestion of foods.
As with any food/herb/spice/supplement, always keep in mind that some people (this could or could not be you) can be allergic, intolerant, and/or sensitive to things that go into the body. When deciding to implement something new into your diet, always feel into your body and listen to its language of comfort/discomfort. Read our Food Sensitivity Testing page to get a better idea as to how your body might be affected by the food you’re eating. If you’re interested in this personalized testing and diet protocol, then contact us to work with Donna to see what your body is allergic to and how you can (re)discover your optimal wellitude! With that said, let’s explore this phenomenally multifaceted spice!
Cultural Historical Applications and Energetics of Turmeric:
Over the centuries, turmeric has been used in therapeutic preparations throughout different parts of the world. In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric has many medicinal properties including strengthening the overall energy of the body, relieving gas, dispelling worms, improving digestion, regulating menstruation, dissolving gallstones, and relieving arthritis. Many South Asian countries use it as an antiseptic for cuts, burns, and bruises, and as an antibacterial agent. In Pakistan, it is used as an anti-inflammatory agent, and as a remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, turmeric is used to cleanse wounds and stimulate recovery by applying it onto a piece of burnt cloth that is placed over a wound. Indians use turmeric, in addition to its Ayurvedic applications, to purify blood and remedy skin conditions. Turmeric paste is used by women in some parts of India to remove superfluous hair. Turmeric paste is applied to the skin of the bride and groom before marriage in some parts of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, where it is believed to make the skin glow and keep harmful bacteria away from the body. Turmeric is also currently used in the formulation of several sunscreens.

$_32In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is a well-documented treatment for various respiratory conditions (e.g., asthma, bronchial hyperactivity, and allergy), as well as for liver disorders, anorexia, rheumatism, diabetic wounds, runny nose, cough, and sinusitis (Araujo and Leon 2001). In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used to treat diseases associated with abdominal pain (Aggarwal, Ichikawa, and Garodia 2004). From ancient times, as prescribed by Ayurveda, turmeric has been used to treat sprains and swelling (Araujo and Leon 2001). In both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, turmeric is considered a bitter digestive that relieves flatulence. Unani practitioners also use turmeric to expel phlegm or kapha, as well as to open blood vessels in order to improve blood circulation. It can be incorporated into foods, including rice and bean dishes, to improve digestion and reduce gas and bloating. Turmeric is a cholagogue—stimulating bile production in the liver and encouraging excretion of bile via the gallbladder, which improves the body’s ability to digest fats and helps to detoxify the body.
Turmeric is warming to the body and has a bitter taste; it has been used to improve protein digestion, reduce uterine tumors, reduce joint swelling, decongest the liver, dissolve gallstones, increase ligament flexibility, and reduce menstrual pain.
If taken in small amounts, turmeric will stimulate the qi energy of the liver and thereby remove liver qi stagnation. It will also dry up virus-feeding dampness. This spice is extremely versatile and can be added to a plethora of meals, tinctures, salves, and drinks. As with anything, turmeric affects everyone differently, so a general dosage suggested is ¼ – ½ teaspoon daily (as a spice or taken in capsules).

 

Scientifically Observed Properties:
More than 100 chemical components have been isolated from turmeric. The main component of the root is a volatile oil, containing turmerone and curcuminoids, which are found to be powerful natural antioxidants that have anti-tumor capabilities (Ruby et al. 1995; Selvam et al. 1995). Curcumin (one among the many healing substances found in turmeric) is one of the main antioxidant chemicals that help the immune system to subdue free radical formations within the body. It is vitally important to eat foods that have antioxidant properties because free radicals dismantle healthy cells within the body. When there are too many free radicals the body then becomes more prone to disease, illness, and will be unable to achieve optimal wellness.

In a 2007 research study, nutritional analysis showed that 100 g of turmeric contains 390 kcal, 10 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.2 g calcium, 0.26 g phosphorous, 10 mg sodium, 2500 mg potassium, 47.5 mg iron, 0.9 mg thiamine, 0.19 mg riboflavin, 4.8 mg niacin, 50 mg ascorbic acid, 69.9 g total carbohydrates, 21 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugars, and 8 g protein (Balakrishnan 2007). Turmeric is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid (Goud, Polasa, and Krishnaswamy 1993).

How-to-Remove-Turmeric-Stains
-Regulates the immune system: a healthy and balanced immune system is one of the foundations to optimal wellness
-Is the most efficient at killing H. pylori when turmeric was tested among other herbs (O’Mahony et al. 2005)
-Improves insulin resistance: this can help current diabetics, those pre-diabetic, and those whom are looking to prevent diabetes
-Increases metabolism: can help to lose weight more effectively (always best in combination with other weight loss protocols/healthy lifestyle changes)
-Acts as a repellent against both day and night-biting mosquitoes (turmeric volatile oil specifically) (Tawatsin et al. 2001)
-Reduces skin inflammation; helping to relieve and heal acne, cuts/wounds, psoriasis, eczema, etc.

Recipesginger_and_turmeric_aromatic_rice

Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice by Julia @ The Roasted Root
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: Serves 3 to 4 people
Ingredients
• 1 cup basmati brown rice
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil or oil of choice
• 2 large cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated
• 1 teaspoon turmeric, peeled and grated*
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 2 cups boiling water
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• ½ cup dried cranberries
For serving:
• ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
• ¼ cup pine nuts
Instructions
1. Pour the dry rice into a bowl and cover with cool water. Soak for 15 minutes, then drain.
2. While rice is soaking, put on a kettle of water and bring to a full boil.
3. Add the coconut oil, garlic, and ginger to a medium-sized pot and heat to medium. Sauté until very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the rice, turmeric and salt, and sauté an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Add 2 cups of boiling water, reduce heat and simmer, covered until water is absorbed, about 30 to 35 minutes.
6. A few minutes before rice is finished cooking, stir the fresh lemon juice and dried cranberries into the rice. Re-place the cover and continue to cook.
7. Serve with fresh cilantro and pine nuts alongside your favorite main dish.

T-honey-mask-1-1-650x978Turmeric Honey Face Mask
By Kacey @ DEARcrissy
Ingredients:
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon raw honey
Optional: up to 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. This will add extra antibacterial properties and hydrating benefits to the mask-though it will also make oily in a way that leaves the mask less of a paste and more of a spread, so it may not go on as thick as if you left the coconut oil out altogether.
Directions:
1. Mix the 2 or 3 ingredients together until everything is nicely combined. If opting to not use the coconut oil, you may want to use a pinch more honey or even a few drops of water. When you’re ready to use the mask, apply to a clean, dry face. This mask shouldn’t be uncomfortable at all, but as with anything new, if you have rather sensitive skin, you may want to dry a small test area of skin before applying all over your face. Leave on for up to 20 minutes, this can be repeated weekly to help clean out pores and clear skin. Follow with a light moisturizer, or even just a tiny dab of coconut oil.

 

 

Resources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/

https://draxe.com/turmeric-benefits/