Traditional Natural Medicine Healing Foods

Using food for healing has a long tradition in both conventional Western medicine and traditional Chinese healing.

Healing Foods and Chinese Medicine

Food has long played a role in traditional Chinese medicine. Food is considered one of the four foundations of Chinese medicine, along with acupuncture, herbal medicine, and massage.

Chinese medicine approaches food as a balancing of yin and yang. Different food is believed to affect the body in different ways. By eating the correct foods in the correct proportions the body is kept in balance.

Whole Foods and Organic Food

Food-based home remedies work best if whole foods are used. Whole foods describe food that contains all-natural nutrients: Whole foods do not contain any synthetic substances or additives. Whole foods also contain their original phytonutrients (nutrients present in food but not considered essential for health).

The most common example of whole foods is organic foods. Organic food is grown without the use of pesticides or fungicides. As a result, foods produced organically contain fewer toxins, and have higher than normal nutritional values.

The Ultimate Healing Food: Chicken Soup

Home remedies for colds and the flu have included chicken soup for hundreds of years. Moses Maimondes first prescribed chicken soup as a healing food in the 17th century for flu and asthma symptoms. Since then, it has become perhaps the most famous of all healing foods.

Several theories have been broached 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 healing foods in their own right, and may help relieve congested nasal passages.

Clinical studies have taken these theories one-step further. Results of research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center by Dr. Stephen Rennard discovered that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties. Chicken soup prevents infection-fighting white blood cells from causing as much inflammation-a common cause of cold and flu symptoms-but does not interfere with the healing properties of the white blood cells.

Although scientists were not able to pinpoint the exact ingredient in the soup responsible for these health effects, it is thought that the vegetables in the soup are to thank. By the way, Dr. Rennard used his grandmother’s chicken soup recipe.

Other Healing Foods

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

Garlic: Eating garlic has many benefits, including lowering hypertension and cholesterol levels. Garlic is also one of the healing foods that help prevent atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart disease. Garlic is also a potent antibiotic, although for optimum effectiveness the garlic should be eaten raw.

Ginger: Ginger’s abilities as a healing food are 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 help alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Olive oil: The Mediterranean diet is healthy because of the liberal use of olive oil. When olive oil is the primary fat consumed, the risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma, and colon cancer all drop. Olive oil is one of the healing foods capable of lowering cholesterol, and some evidence exists that olive oil may help reduce arthritis symptoms.

Tomato: Tomatoes and tomato-based products contain lycene, an antioxidant that helps prevent prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancer. Regular tomato consumption can also reduce the risk of heart disease.