Treating Cardiovascular Disease With Chinese Nutritional Therapy

The concept of medicinal food preparations refers to the nature/temperature and flavors or tastes of foods and to which energy channels foods enter, as well as the movement orientation (outward, inward, downward, upward) and general qualities (draining, moistening, drying, cooling, warming, etc.) of the foods. Foods can be described as hot, warm, neutral, cool, and cold; this corresponds to the Four Chi with each food having only one Chi. Foods are chosen based on the classifications defined in traditional Chinese herbal medicine. The Five Tastes (pungent/acrid, salty, bitter, sour, sweet) determine the kinds of healing function to target organs and/or meridians. Sour ingredients, for instance, target the liver while bitter ingredients are anti-toxic in action and target the heart.

Similar to TCM herbal formulation, ingredients also are chosen based on their roles in the actions of the recipe. These are classified in the following order: envoy, assistant, deputy, and chief.

Polished round-grain rice is neutral and sweet. The envoy controls the formula to a certain anatomical location and harmonizes the flavors of the recipe. It balances the flavors of foods and also stimulates the middle burner (your center of digestion), which makes it a perfect envoy.

Assistants boost the effect of the deputy (helping aide or assistant) or chief. They can also minimize toxicity or harshness (opposing assistant). Onions, which enhance the function of beef and other Chi-strengthening meats, are helping assistants. One powerful antidote to neutralize actual poisons found in foods and herbs is fresh ginger; therefore, it is considered an opposing assistant.

The recipe’s primary function is determined by the chief ingredient in a recipe. Meat in any recipe would be a good example. The deputy includes a secondary function and supports the chief action.

Dietary foods are chosen after a differential diagnosis (using pulse and tongue diagnosis) is done, and after the envoys, assistants, deputy and chief are chosen. Cardiovascular disease treatment is one of the more extremely important uses of Chinese nutritional therapy. From the viewpoint of TCM recovery, cure, and prevention, coronary artery disease is considered an ideal condition to resolve. TCM differentiates coronary artery disease into two categories: deficiency and excess. For your heart, the primary dietary foods/herbs are Chinese chive (xie bai), hawthorn (shan sha), dried longan fruit (long yan rou), lily bulb (bai he), red jujube seed (suan tsao ren), hoelen (fu ling), gan jiang, cinnamon bark (rou gui), and white chrysanthemum (ju hua).

Sargasso (hai zao), dried ginger, kelp/laminaria (kun bu), and garlic (da suan) are used for diagnosing Chi deficiency, Blood stasis, Yang deficiency, Yin deficiency, Phlegm stasis, and Chi stasis. Dietary foods/herbs are eaten as flavoring for congee or rice porridge, condiments, or snacks. More complex recipes are ideal for inclusive therapies and better outcomes.

Wild garlic porridge and hawthorn, for instance, can be used to treat precordial pain related to Chi deficiency. Soybean, sargasso, and kelp soup can address coronary disease accompanied by high cholesterol and hypertension. Chinese red sage, Chinese ginseng and hawthorn can treat Chi deficiency and Blood stasis.

An ideal sample meal would be:

Breakfast: rice porridge, wheat berry (fu hsiao mai), red jujube or red date (da zao). This healthy nutty porridge regulates and strengthens Heart Chi (signs and symptoms of deficiency may include insomnia; fatigue; tired spirit; slow, confused muddled thinking, and palpitations). The chief food is Red date; it activates the Stomach, Spleen, and Heart, and is neutral and sweet. This recipe can nourish the Chi of the Heart. The deputy is Wheat berry which is cool and sweet, and activates Lung and Heart. It also regulates Heart Chi in this recipe.

Christina Prieto is an Orlando acupuncturist, a certified Yoga instructor and the founder of Harmony Wellness center in central Florida.