Happy Chinese New Year!
It is always interesting to see what Chinese customs suggest about what we can expect from the coming year and the animal that is said to govern it. According to Chinese tradition, each new year is represented by a a different animal and a different element. The year 2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster with some referring to 2017 as the year of the “Pheonix” because the Fire Rooster is considered to bring rebirth and transformation, concepts often related to “the Pheonix rising from the ashes.”
Whether you follow and take to heart the predictions of the governing animal for the coming year, each new year is still a great time for reflecting on our habits, work and health and making plans for improvement in the months to come. For many people, 2016, the year of the Fire Monkey, left them feeling depleted and exhausted. If this is you, or if you have had nagging health issue you need to tackle, this is the year to focus on and be vigilant about your health – especially your liver health. We are going to show you some simple ways to do this in this article!
According to Narrye Caldwell, a Chinese Astrologer and Doctor of Chinese Medicine, “the Rooster has one special super power — the ability to delay gratification and focus on the long term goal. Roosters can actually separate the reward from the work required to get it, and they can do this over long periods of time…like years. So whatever feelings you may have about the upheaval created in the Monkey year , the Qi will now support you to focus and apply yourself to the task at hand with discipline and diligence…keep chipping away without wavering, Apply yourself. That’s what this year is all about.”
In the year of the Fire Rooster, it is important to cleanse the liver and purge toxins. The liver is a major organ responsible for storing blood during rest and releasing it to nourish the tendons and muscles throughout the body during physical activity. According to TCM, stagnant liver Qi disrupts emotional flow producing feelings of stress, irritability, anger and frustration. Liver stagnation also causes muscle tightness, muscle spasms, menstrual cycle irregularities, insomnia, dry eyes and skin and more.
To restore healthy liver function, focus on feeding the liver with Chinese herbs that help remove toxins and cleanse the liver. Eat foods that are in season, cut back on alcohol and caffeine consumption and make sure to incorporate blood moving exercises into your routine. Start learning Yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong. Your liver is an amazing organ with the ability to regenerate and repair itself, but it requires some focused attention on removing toxins, providing nutrition and moving the blood.
Wu Wei Zi (Schizandra berry, Schizandra chinensis) is known to be gently cleansing to the liver organ, helping to purify the blood and protect the body from toxic substances. Schisandrin B, one of its primary liver-protecting elements, has been widely used as an antihepatotoxic agent proven to have hepatoprotective effects against chemical and immunological liver injury. In several reported studies, schizandra and its chemical compounds like Schisandrin B were observed to exhibit “significant anti-hepatitis B virus activity.” (*) Schisandrin B was also demonstrated to have shielding effects against acetaminophen-induced liver disease from over the counter drugs, like Tylenol. (*) Schizandra berry tea decoctions, like our Super Antioxidant Longevi-Tea are well-known for their ability to enhance the eyesight and beautify the skin with extended use because of the positive effects it has on the liver.
Ling Zhi (Reishi mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum) is another major tonic herb known to have powerful shielding effects on the liver organ. Its main active compounds include a group of antioxidant triterpenes called ganoderic acids. Ganoderic acids are known to improve the functions of the liver, increase oxygen utilization and also act as a natural antihistamine. It is therefore particularly helpful for those with autoimmune disorders or allergies. As a liver tonic reishi helps to cleanse and nourish the blood and its antihepatotoxic constituents, like ganoderic acid A and ganoderic acid B, have been shown to guard against liver damage. In studies, it has been reported to stimulate the regeneration of liver cells and has achieved positive results for those with hepatitis. (*) Check out our Reishi-Astragalus Chai Training Tea!
Chai Hu (Bupleurum, Bupleurum chinense), also known as thorowax root, is one of the most widely used liver herbs in Chinese medicine and is a common ingredient in many patent formulas. The root is used to cleanse and “cool” the liver of heat and is frequently prepared with blood building herbs. It is traditionally used to promote blood circulation in the liver organ, regulate liver energy and clear liver congestion. The roots principle components include triterpene glycosides referred to as saikosides. Bupleurum is commonly combined with other tonic herbs like peony, dang quai, licorice root, poria and atractylodes for a number of different treatments. It is frequently used in simmered teas or is encapsulated as an extract.
Jiang Huang (Turmeric root, Curcuma longa) is a commonly used Ayurvedic herb that acts as a digestive aid, carminative, and anti-inflammatory but is also a cleansing herb, potent blood builder and detoxifier. Good for anemic individuals, as it is naturally high in iron content, the root is also useful for cooling excess heat and increasing blood flow. In Chinese medicine, yellow foods are believed to be of particular benefit to the liver and gall bladder. It is an often incorporated ingredient in many herbal formulations specific to dissolving gall stones and sediment accumulation. Studies indicate that its active compound, curcumin, may be useful for increasing the detoxifying antioxidant glutathione, which is synthesized in the liver. (*)
Yellow dock (Rumex crispus) is a prolific wild edible plant, like dandelion, that grows in many parts of the world. It comes from the family of “docks” but is specifically characterized by its very yellow-golden root. (*) It is another building yet cleansing herb for the liver that is enriching to the blood. It is likewise an excellent detoxifying herb that helps with the digestion of fats and sluggish elimination. Containing a compound known as “nepodin”, yellow dock has been researched for its inhibitory actions against the blood parasite that causes malaria. (*) The root of the yellow dock plant is rich in various minerals, especially iron which helps to enrich the blood and prevents anemia.
Plum Dragon Year of the Fire Rooster Recipe Pick
Since the metal element of year of the Fire Rooster is associated with the Lung, we are advised to take more precaution than usual against outbreaks of respiratory illness and flus. This Chinese herbal chicken soup recipe is perfect for nourishing the body’s immune and nervous systems, boosting energy and strength and bringing healing.
- 500 g chicken parts – skin removed
- Plum Dragon’s Chinese Herbs for Chicken Soup, Herb Pack
- 8 cups water
- Salt – to taste
- Blanch chicken pieces in a (non-metallic) pot of boiling water for a few minutes until you see the scum and dirt float up. Remove and set aside.
- Rinse all the dried herbs briefly to remove dust and dirt. Put the dried herbs and water into a claypot and bring to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, add the chicken parts.
- Lower the heat to the smallest flame and simmer for at least 1.5 hours or 2 hours the most. The chicken should be tender but not falling apart.
- Season with salt before serving.
2. Chicken on the bone is recommended for this recipe and not chicken breast as the former is more tender.
Below is a brief description of some of the Chinese herbs for chicken soup and its curative properties.
1. Dried Chinese Yam – Shān Yao
Chinese yam strengthens the spleen and stomach to aid digestion, nourishes kidney, lowers blood sugar, promotes longevity, treats loss of appetite, body fatigue, diarrhea and other diseases
2. Wolfberries – Gǒu Qǐ Zǐ (枸杞子)
Wolfberries have many nutritional values. Among them, it improves immune function, increases energy and has anti-fatigue effect, anti-cancer, improves eyesight, improves brain function and enhances learning and memory capabilities.
3. Soloman’s Seal – Yù Zhú (玉竹)
These slivers of curly herb are yellowish in colour and is believed to treat ailments related to the lungs and throat. It helps with dry cough, sore throat and thirst.
4. Astragalus Root – Huang Qí
Astragalus is said to prevent and treat common colds and upper respiratory infections, and it’s usually combined with other herbs that also help support and strengthen the immune system, such as ginseng, angelica and licorice.
5. Codonopsis Root – Dǎng shēn (当参)
Main Codonopsis uses and indications include deficiency in lung and spleen, shortness of breath and heart palpitations, reduced appetite, loose stools, deficient asthma and cough, and heat diabetes.
6. Dried Red Dates – Hóng Zǎo (红枣)
Dried red dates balances qi and nourishes the blood. It also helps to improve insomnia, reduces cholesterol and protect the liver.
Clockwise from top left: Soloman’s Seal (Yù Zhú), Rhizoma Ligustici (Chuan Xiong), Wolfberry Seeds (Gǒu Qǐ Zǐ), Astragalus Root (Běi Qí), Dried Chinese Yam (Huái Shān), Codonopsis Root (Dǎng Shēn) and Chinese Angelica Root (Dāng Guī) – (credit: Souper Diaries: Chinese and Asian Food Recipes)
Our best advice to starting off this Chinese New Year on the right foot is this: Make some soup, take some Reishi capsules, and drink some liver supporting and cleansing tea!
Happy Year of the Fire Rooster, Everyone! May your health be restored and revitalized in this coming year.
From the entire Plum Dragon Herbs team 🙂