The human body is a continuous circuit in which energy flows. Energy is our life force – it is called Ki in Japanese medicine, Qi in Chinese medicine or Prana in Indian medicine. Energy runs through the body in pathways called meridians that are associated with each organ system.
If Qi (chee) is not properly flowing in any organ or meridian, it can affect the entire body.
Pain, aches or stiffness along meridians or at a specific point can indicate dysfunction, stagnation, excess or deficiency, within that organ system. The body always talks to us with symptoms to let us know something may not be flowing well.
Once energy begins flowing again the organ receives the proper nourishment it needs and discomfort usually disappears.
Each organ and its corresponding meridian system can be nourished or harmed by a specific flavor; sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungent/spicy.
The Nei Ching (the Yellow Emperor’s classic of Internal Medicine) says, “If people pay attention to the five flavors and blend them well, their bones will remain straight, their muscles will remain tender and young, breath and blood will circulate freely, the pores will be in fine texture, and consequently breath and bones will be filled with the essence of life.”
The flavor associated with the lungs is pungent/spicy. That means, especially at this time of year when respiratory ailments run rampant, both too much or too little of this flavor can affect the health and proper functioning of the lungs.
During the winter months, it’s imperative to give the lungs the flavor it needs to function optimally otherwise you may likely suffer from respiratory trouble, nasal congestion, and/or excess phlegm.
The sense organ associated with the lungs is the nose and the ability to smell and taste. The pungent and spicy flavor helps to clear the sinuses and stimulate the lungs into action. We can all witness the action of this flavor when we eat a spicy red radish or some green wasabi at a Japanese restaurant – those radishes will “open” your nasal and respiratory passages for sure!
Below are some favorite spicy/pungent foods I highly recommend at this time of year to help nourish the lungs and keep your mucus in check:
- Red radishes
- Daikon radishes
- Mustard greens
- Cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes
Don’t wait until you start feeling congested to incorporate these foods into your diet, start right now so you can breathe easier throughout the entire winter season.
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