Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was the standard form of healthcare in China for millennia. Many customs and traditions in China have their root in Chinese medicine and the principle of yin and yang. TCM explains that there are cycles in the natural world; that we must work with these cycles and be balanced with them. Balance creates harmony, which in turn leads to health. Let’s look at how TCM can help women find balance.
In nature there are many cycles: the seasons, the 24-hour clock, and even human life. These examples follow a distinct rhythm and pattern. In the same manner, our bodies also have cycles. According to TCM, men have an 8-year cycle and women have a 7-year cycle. In the female cycle, kidney energy increases at age 7, menstruation arrivesat age 14, and a woman is fully mature at age 21. Her kidney essence peaks at this age and so the cycle continues every 7 years. From a TCM perspective the kidney is an important organ for reproduction, growth, and development. A woman also has a 28 day monthly cycle, and according to TCM this is a special time when she must take care to nourish her body, mind, and spirit. One of the ways to do this is through the diet.
Traditionally, food items that have been helpful for women are dates, red beans, and red sugar 븐鎌, also known as brown sugar. In Chinese medicine it’s important for women to build sufficient blood so they do not become deficient during their period. From a Western medical perspective we know this to be true; iron deficiency anemia is common in women with heavy periods. In ancient times perhaps these foods had been originally chosen for their red color, but now we know that these food items are actually high in iron. Another typical food for women, especially after giving birth, is black chicken. It’s traditionally made as a soup, in which the meat and bones are cooked for a long time with added herbs like ginger, goji berries and dates. According to TCM this soup gives women nourishment, can relieve fatigue, and helps build blood. In recent years there has been great interest in bone broth and its medicinal qualities. We know that chicken extract has many beneficial nutrients, including various amino acids, minerals, and trace elements. This black chicken is a breed called silkie, and not only is the flesh black but also its bones. Black chicken meat contains twice the amount of iron as conventional chicken. Isn’t it amazing to think that people figured out the importance of these foods for women thousands of years ago?
TCM tells us the importance of living in harmony with the rhythms and cycles of the natural world. There is a wisdom there, and from a Western point of view we are finally beginning to understand.
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Dr. Melissa Rodriguez is a naturopathic doctor and mother of two, who works at Beijing United Family Hospital. To find out more, check out her website at www.drmelissarodriguez.com.
This article originally appeared on page 25 of beijingkids 2017 February Issue. Download the digital version here.