Alternative Medicine Healing Foods

Foods for healing have a long tradition in both conventional Western medicine and traditional Chinese healing.

Food is one of the four foundations of Chinese medicine, along with acupuncture, herbal medicine and massage. Chinese medicine approaches food as a balancing of yin (cold and passive) and yang (hot and active) energies within the body, mind and spirit. Different food is believed to affect the body in different ways. Eating the correct foods in the correct proportions keeps the body in balance.

Whole Foods Healing

Whole foods are generally defined as foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, with little or no refining or processing. For example, oranges are a whole food; orange juice is not. The advantage of whole foods is that they contain nutrients as they are found in nature. Many sources also promote organic whole foods because they have less pesticide residue.

Chicken Soup for Whole Foods Healing

Foods for healing colds and the flu have long included chicken soup. Several theories have been posited to explain the healing properties of chicken soup. One suggests that the soup’s steam helps alleviate congestion. Pepper and garlic, two common chicken soup ingredients, are natural healing foods in their own right, and may help relieve congested nasal passages.

Clinical studies have taken these theories one step further. Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (2000) discovered that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties. Chicken soup prevents infection-fighting white blood cells from causing inflammation—a common cause of cold and flu symptoms—but doesn’t interfere with the healing properties of the white blood cells.

Other Natural Healing Foods

Most foods for healing are preventive in nature and most effective when eaten as whole foods. Here are some of the better-known foods for healing:

  • Garlic: Garlic has many benefits, including potentially lowering hypertension and cholesterol levels. Garlic is one of the natural healing foods that may help prevent atherosclerosis, stroke and heart disease. Garlic also has antibiotic properties, although it works best when eaten raw.
  • Ginger: This healing food is well known in traditional Chinese medicine. Ginger has long been used in home remedies for digestive complaints and flatulence. Ginger has also proven to be an effective motion sickness remedy and is used in many home remedies to relieve morning sickness. Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory healing properties: Regular ginger consumption may alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Olive oil: According to the Food and Drug Administration (2009), eating about two tablespoons of olive oil each day may reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. For the most benefit, use olive oil in place of saturated fats and don’t just add olive oil to what you’re already eating. All olive oils are beneficial, but “extra-virgin” or “virgin” olive oils provide more benefits, as they have the most polyphenols (a powerful antioxidant).
  • Tomato: Tomatoes and tomato-based products contain lycopene, an antioxidant that may help prevent prostate, breast, lung and colon cancers. Regular tomato consumption may also reduce the risk of heart disease.

Resources

Dang, Y. (2005). Properties of food from http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/lifestyles/food_property_food_tcm.htmlhttp://www.shen-nong.com/eng/lifestyles/food_property_food_tcm.html

George Mateljan Foundation. (2010) Tomatoes. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?dbid=44