Episode 4

Published on:

17th Jul 2023

Food as Medicine

A quote from Sun Simiao (translation by Dr. Wilms):

“When a person’s body is balanced and harmonious, you must merely nurture it well. Do not recklessly take medicinals, because the strength of medicinals assists only partially and causes the persons’ organ Qi to be imbalanced, so that they easily contract external trouble. All things that contain Qi provide food and thereby preserve life. Nevertheless, eating them unawares has the opposite effect. The common people use them daily without awareness, and so they hardly recognize when water and fire draw near... For this reason, food is able to expel evil and secure the internal organs, and to please the spirit and clear the will, by supplying blood and Qi. If you can use food to stabilize chronic illness, release emotions, and chase away disease, you can call yourself an outstanding practitioner. This is the special method of lengthening the years and eating for old age, and the utmost art of nurturing life.”

Inspired by that quote, we look at the following questions:

How can we use food as medicine? How do we nurture essence? What makes food nourishing? How can we help our patients, friends, and family decolonized their experience of embodiment by rediscovering their innate ability to sense what is good or bad for the body, and for their jīng 精 “essence” in particular? What does that mean for immigrants in the US who are craving the taste of home? Lastly, what are some of the dangers of popular diets and fads, in particular the Keto diet and elimination of carbohydrates, or of nutraceutical extracts? What is the difference between a carrot and a carrot, and between losing weight and losing jīng “essence”? What are some of the other magical aspects of flavor or wèi 味 in Chinese, which the Nèijīng already mentions as the key to supplementing jīng Essence?

We have fun as we look at factors ranging from love and fermentation to refrigeration and round-up, and even Mexican Coca-Cola and, of course, German “Gummibärchen.” And as a special bonus, our conversation concludes with Z’ev’s favorite breakfast congee recipe so make sure you listen closely all the way to the end…

For today’s episode of A Pebble in the Cosmic Pond, titled “Food as Medicine,” I am your host, Dr. Sabine Wilms, as usual supported by Leo Lok, our resident Purveyor of Multiple Perspectives among the Seven Fools of the Bamboo Grove. In addition, we are joined by Z’ev Rosenberg who you may be familiar with from Episode 2 of our podcast on the “True Medicine of Yangsheng.”

If this has got you really interested, check out my follow-up conversation with Leo Lok in the Imperial Tutorial episode on "Jing and Wei: Essence and Flavor," exclusively produced for the members of my Imperial Tutor mentorship. Find out more at happygoatproductions.com/imperialtutor.

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About the Podcast

A Pebble in the Cosmic Pond
Old and New Stories from China's Healing Traditions
Tune in every other week for inspiring, joyful, and informative conversations on transforming ourselves, our communities, and the world, in the spirit of ancient Chinese medicine, spirituality, and philosophy. Separating fact from fiction, we aim to bring you medicine from China's distant past, translated here to meet YOUR needs today, in clinic and beyond.
I am your host, Dr. Sabine Wilms, medical historian, recovering university professor, and author and translator of more than a dozen books on the Chinese healing arts, from gynecology and pediatrics to medical ethics and materia medica, published by Happy Goat Productions. In addition to writing, I teach and mentor at https://www.imperialtutor.com/, about the roots of Chinese medicine and its larger cultural background. In addition, I will bring in insights from my checkered past as a biodynamic goat farmer and musician, all under the banner of my favorite phrase, “cosmic resonance,” a.k.a. the Chinese ideal of harmony between the three realms of Heaven, Earth, and Humanity. I really love to inspire people and spread around some good vibrations, which is what I aim to do in this podcast, with the assistance of some of my favorite clinical and academic colleagues, friends, and guides, like Leo Lok (our self-proclaimed "Purveyor of Multiple Perspective") and Dr. Brenda Hood, master physician and specialist in all things Daoism.

New episodes will generally drop twice a month, with a free one on the new moon and a bonus one for Imperial Tutor members on the full moon. Check out https://www.imperialtutor.com/membership for more information on my mentorship. Episodes will be roughly an hour long and will follow the format of what you may already be familiar with as the Imperial Tutor’s Tea Time Talks: loosely structured conversations that provide education, inspiration, and connection. If you want to be notified of new episodes, why don’t you subscribe to my newsletter at https://www.happygoatproductions.com/connect?
Here are our three main goals:
1. Bridge-building: We gather to explore the liminal sweet spot, in between Heaven and Earth, the distant past and the present moment, East and West, the clinic and the academy, the healer and the scholar, the discernible and the unfathomable, oral lineage and written text, and, ultimately, between Yin and Yang.
2. Collaboration: The treasure house of traditional Chinese medicine is bigger than any single person's expertise, no matter how vast. We actively pursue and embrace a diversity of opinions so that we can collectively deepen our understanding.
3. Authentic Transmission: Translation, from the past to the present, from Chinese to English, from texts to clinical application, etc., invariably involves an alteration and adaptation of the original message. How do we stay as true as possible to the insights expressed in the ancient Chinese texts while still making sense to our listeners? We invite you to consider the creative challenges of this task with us.

Potential future topics include: Meditation Sickness and Qigong Psychosis; The Difference Between Responsibility and Fault; Daoist and Confucian Perspectives on Humanity's Role Between Heaven and Earth; The Creation, Development, and Transmission of Medical Knowledge and the Dangers and Benefits of Lineage; Buddhist Perspectives on Reality and Expedient Means; The Wuwei Way; The Weasel and the Yak, and The Frog in the Well; Simple Questions: How to Read the Classics; The Cosmos in Six Lines: The Yijing as a Tool of Healing; Translation, Transmission, Transcendence, Transcreation; Pointing to the Moon: How to Name the Unnameable; Should Return and A Hundred Meetings: What's in a Name; The Fish’s Delight: The Limits of Sense Perception; Clear Talk: Creating Light in Dark Times; Reverberations of the Valley Spirit; Lotus in the Mud: Buddhism and Medicine...
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About your host

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Sabine Wilms

I am the producer, manager, director, and (whether I like it or not) person in charge of this podcast. I take full responsibility for this project and vision but do not necessarily agree with anything anybody else says on my podcast, whether it is framed as an opinion or a fact. You can find out more about my books at happygoatproductions.com, my mentoring at imperialtutor.com, my classical Chinese offerings at translatingchinesemedicine.com, and my gynecology courses at traditionalChinesegynecology.com.