HomeTraditional Chinese MedicineArticlesLecturesAikidoBioContact

The Practical Herbalist

Out of Place Food

Herbal medicine is really based on food. Cooks of the past paid attention to how food made a person feel. With that understanding an extreme shift in the types of food a person eats could then be used as medicine. In our modern age we often have available to us, foods that are not appropriate to our lives. We ship in fresh fruit from tropical regions out of season and eat amounts that are beyond what we need. In essence we are eating foods that have a particular effect, without regard to whether our bodies need that type of food.

We are what we eat, and we function well when we have the right food in our system. I talk to many patients who in trying to be healthy living on iced fruit smoothies and salads. Appropriate foods in the summer when it is hot, but not helpful in the winter. It would be silly to think of the Inuit hunters of the Arctic living on papaya and coconuts, just as the equatorial natives would not feel good eating a diet of whale blubber. Even in our modern stores we can see watermelon sales go down and hot chocolate sales go up as winter approaches.

ur modern buildings shield us from much of the changes in weather, and as a result we don’t always adjust our diets to the changing seasons as well as our ancestors. This is why we see an increase in colds and flu's in early winter and in late spring. During these times, people are often still eating the types of food for the previous season, rather than adjusting and preparing the body for the upcoming season. The body is unprepared for the rapidly changing weather and becomes depleted and susceptible to catching a cold.

The real goal to healthy eating should not be to micromanage the nutrition chemistry of our diet. The goal should be to eat what your body needs. Adjust your diet to activity level, and try to make the bulk of your diet, match the season. A winter diet should focus on hot cereals, soups and stews, meats, root vegetables, squash, and northern fruits like apples, pears and cranberries. Summer diets should focus on fresh greens, tropical fruits and melons, lean meats and fish. Spring and Fall should be transition times where you are looking ahead and adjusting your diet to the upcoming season.

Paying attention to the foods that make you feel good as part of eating for the season, can be a great way to eat healthier. Eating appropriately can do far more than any "immune enhancing" herbs in protecting you from the sniffles and sneezes that are going around the office. Even if you do catch a cold, your system is more likely to recover quickly if your system is in balance with the season and strengthened by the right foods at the right time.

David Bock

This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"

Return to the Articles archive

David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066