HomeTraditional Chinese MedicineArticlesLecturesAikidoBioContact

The Practical Herbalist

Of Food And Funerals

Herbal medicine is really about how foods and herbs make you feel. Food in particular is far more than the utilitarian function of just providing nourishment. Food is social, it binds us culturally and it provides cultural ritual to ease difficult times. Most human celebrations involve food. Many of us have a food that takes us back to a different time. We can have positive and negative responses to food that have little to do with the food itself but rather what that food means to us. We all know deep down that food is more than what the nutritionists can classify out of the materials that make up the food we eat.

Food is the fuel of life. What we often forget is that the fastest way to use up the fuel we have is not sports or movement, but the control of our emotions. Emotions use a lot of energy. Culture does not always allow us to show the emotions that we feel. The restraint of emotions can demand more of our bodies than just about anything else. This is why people naturally provide a lot of food at funerals. Funerals are of course times of great stress as people try to keep very strong emotions in check. The result is a desire for heavy familiar comfort food that not only provides the calories we need, but sits heavily in the system, giving us a grounded stable feel from which we can keep the emotions in control.

Chinese herbal medicine understands this concept very well. There are many traditional herbal formulas for dealing with emotional issues. Most of these formulas fall into two categories. One type uses heavy minerals, sea shells and rocks of various sorts to "weigh down" the emotions. These types of materials provide the heavy gut feel that comforts a person and makes them feel more in control. The other type of formula uses herbs that are heavy, but nourishing in nature. These would include meats and dense roots that provide the energy for a more active control of the emotions. This type of formula is not unlike the heavy comfort food that you often see at a funeral, where it provides the means for people to self medicate at a time of great stress.

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