Saturday, 3 September 2016

September 2014: Traditional Chinese Medicine



“The whole art of the true physician is exerted to induce nature to interfere and take up the case of his patient; and when he sees signs of her gracious presence, he only reverentially looks on, and confines himself to removing impediments in her way.”
Dr. James Esdaile (1808-1859)

Half a year ago I started to have kidney trouble. I did not really want to use antibiotics [1], and as my problems were not too severe I went for the food approach. I spent hours to find out every single detail of 'kidney infection' and 'kidney disease', but my ever more rigorous adherence to the prescribed diet yielded no progress.
Till my acupuncturist's throwaway comment that the kidney was 'yang deficient', sent me to the computer with new vigour. A 'yang deficient kidney' was an altogether different story, with a new exciting diet. Which worked straight from the start!
This is not a recommendation to avoid your doctor, or to dismiss their advise. But for me it opened a new world, and I have been exploring it gratefully ever since.

While most forms of traditional medicine have become extinct, traditional Chinese medicine continues as a separate branch of modern medical practice. Within China, it is an important part of the public health care system, and shows no signs of disappearing.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, based on thousands of years of empirical knowledge, believes that:
- the human body is a miniature version of the larger, surrounding universe.
- harmony between two complementary forces, called yin and yang, supports health, and disease results from an imbalance between these forces.
- qi, a vital energy that flows through the body, performs multiple functions in maintaining health.

Man, as an integral part of nature, is in constant and intensive interaction with his environment. This relationship is considered vital: disease is a deviation from natural conditions. Well-balanced bodies can usually handle most everyday bacteria and virus, which are ubiquitous and fast changing; disease happens only if there is an imbalance in the body.

The downside of western drugs is that they kill not only the bad bacteria and virus, they also severely intervene in our body's proper functioning. This worsens the unbalanced human internal system and makes patients more susceptible to other types of dis-ease.
The Chinese view is that western medicine pays too much attention to lab reports and too little to the overall feelings of the patient. And many of us with experience of western doctors, will agree with that! [2]


Do you still use tablesalt? Invest in some (fine grain) seasalt: it will last for ages and is far better for you. See the October 2010 issue.

Veg: broad/runner/french beans, marrow, squash, courgette, lettuce, turnip, peas/mangetout, aubergine, capsicum, spinach (beet), chard, sweetcorn, shallots, tomatoes, cauli, carrots, cabbage, beet, globe artichoke, cucumber, fennel, radish, kohlrabi, calabrese, chicory, endive, celery, broccoli, swede.
Fish: Threat to our wildlife, delight on your plate: "Why We Should Eat More (American Signal) Crayfish", [3]. Otherwise mackerel, seabass, black bream, crab, mussels, scallops.
Meat: rabbit, lamb, wood pigeon, duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison.

spring cabbage, spinach, turnips, oriental vegetables, landcress, rocket, corn salad, winter lettuce, winter purslane. Plant overwintering onion sets, garlic.

1200g cleaned marrow, 2 carrots, 2 potatoes, 2 onions, (few lettuce leaves), 1/2 tsp mild curry powder.
Prepare all the veg and put them in 2l boiling water or stock with the curry powder (and thyme, bay). Cook till done, mash. Good with croutons.

I always make this when we have a glut of runner beans. It's simple:
Cook spinach (or use leftovers). Cook runner beans (or use leftovers). If you have something else leftover, like potatoes, throw it in! Keep cooking water. Add this water and/or stock, whizz with a whizzer. Season. Nutmeg, coriander, cayenne pepper are all good. Add sour cream. Serve!

450g French beans, 125g chopped mushrooms, 3 tsp chopped fresh parsley, 1 tblsp softened butter, 2 chopped garlic cloves.
Mix first 4 ingredients, add pepper. Cook beans, mix in mushroom butter, just heat through.

Zest of 1 lemon, 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 kg scrag end, 1 chopped onion, celery, 4 tsp tomato purée, can chopped tomatoes, 1l water, 400g quartered potatoes, 1 bay, 2 tbsp chopped dill, 300g sliced runner beans, 4 tbsp chopped parsley.
Rub zest and 2 tblsp oil over lamb. Let marinate for at least 1 hr, pref overnight. Heat oil in pan large enough to hold lamb and potatoes. Once hot, brown lamb in batches, set aside.
Add onion and celery, cook until soft, add tomato puree. Cook for another min., add tomatoes and water. Bring to boil and season. Return lamb to pan, add bay. Cover and simmer for 1 hr. Add potatoes and simmer for 20 mins uncovered, before adding dill, beans and half the parsley. Simmer for 15 mins until beans and potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with parsley. This dish tastes even better the day after.

1200g (floury) potatoes, 500g chopped apples ideally half sweet and half sour, 10-12 slices smoked bacon, butter or fat for frying,  2 onions, salt, large bunch of watercress, chopped without the thicker stalks.
Chop potatoes and put on with cold lightly salted water. After ab. 10 minutes add most of the apples. Meanwhile fry bacon with chopped onion and the rest of the apples. When potatoes and apples are done, mash. Cut up bacon, and add bacon/onion/apple mix to the mash along with the frying fat. At the last minute mix in the cress, or strew over it when served on the plates.

350g fresh white crab meat, 2 tsp lemon juice, 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling, 8 shredded basil leaves, handful sliced rocket leaves, sea salt, pepper.
Mix crab, lemon juice, oil, basil and seasoning. Make 4 piles of this on so many plates/ Put small pile of rocket next to them. Drizzle more oil over the rocket. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

1 small marrow, 250g chopped mushrooms, 80ml butter, 1 chopped onion, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 80ml plain yoghurt, 2 chopped tomatoes, salt, 1tsp curry powder, 1tblsp chopped green coriander or some ground coriander seeds.
Grind into paste: 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp red chili powder, 2.5cm fresh ginger
Peel marrow, take out pips. Cook in some salted boiling water for 5 mins. Drain, chop in 2cm pieces. Heat butter, fry onion, mushrooms and bay until golden. Add cumin and paste and fry for 10 more mins. Add yoghurt, tomato, salt and marrow, stir well. Cover tightly and cook on low heat for 15 mins. Serve hot, sprinkled with coriander.

[1] "Nothing hits gut populations like antibiotics" see "How to be a good mayor of your body's microbe city" by Jop de Vrieze, see archive, on the right, September, 'Microbe City'.
[2] For a simple introduction of Chinese medicine, see:
A very good one about Chinese medicine and food is
A more extensive overview is at:

Next month: The Common Cold!