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Chinese health theory: the body heat

The Chinese Theory of Body Heat

It is a very common symptom and very common diagnosis in Chinese medicine — body heat .

As I write these two words down, I could almost hear my husband laughing… :( actually, not only him, many other friends (non Chinese) would laugh as well — they really make a big fun of it — but it is a very very common Chinese medical diagnosis, well, it is so common and obvious, that it does not even need a doctor to diagnose it.

What is body heat ? In Chinese, it is originally called “growing fire”, in some other regional languages or dialects, these exact words might be understood as “anger” :). Despite the different words, the definition of this symptom is always the same: the “heat” generated from inner body, which shows in various ways, for example, (the most common symptoms) spots (those spots with big hard roots, can grow bigger and contain white liquid), constipation, often tired and sweat a lot (not because of the hot temperature), dizziness or nausea (specially) in the summer etc.

Body Heat Imbalance

According to Chinese medicine , every body has fire - body heat which keeps your body having a smooth flow cycle, and is believed to influence the functions of inner organs, for instance, liver, kidney, heart. Normally, it is well-balanced, but once it is imbalanced, you will have uncomfortable symptoms.

One of the most common causes of body heat imbalance is stress. Others include some food intake which the body doesn’t take it very well, for example, too much spicy food, or some environmental influence, for example, too hot weather. Different causes might trigger body heat and show different symptoms, the fire might be from different parts of the inner body depending on the “immune” strength.

Although no such medical term exists in the West, this theory has been passed on generation after generation, and it is well-documented in many Chinese medicine books . So, you can say it is a cultural thing.

Most of the symptoms only cause discomfort, do not bother you much, and nothing is very serious. And if the symptoms develop, they are normally treated according its individual problems, at the same time, if you want, “cooling down” the body heat.

For example, years ago, I had one of those spots growing between my shoulder and upper chest, because of its particular location, it eventually caused my upper shoulder area swallow badly, so I had to go to doctor to get treated.

If left untreated, the body can normally balance the heat out by itself after some time, but if you have some other illness like heart problem, it is better to be careful.

Balancing the Body Heat

There are a few kinds of Chinese teas or herbs called Niu huang jie du wan for treating body heat imbalance . These normally have very few side effects (sometime mild diarrhea), more like detox. The medicine can be very bitter, well, like most Chinese medicines . :)

Otherwise, you can have some particular food for helping it. Phew… We come back to food again. :)) Mung beans are the most common food for this, especially if the “fire” comes from the stomach. But since mung beans are not medicine, a diet rich on mung beans takes some time to work. Mung beans are good in any form. I prefer to make them into congee. It is very simple to make, but takes some time.

Before making mung bean congee, it is better to soak the beans for a few hours or overnight, then just add more water (around double or triple then you would make for boiled rice), slow boil it for around 1 1/2 hours. I like to have it with sugar, it is good to go with Chinese “ice sugar”, (it is a crystal like sugar chunk, they can be broken into smaller pieces before putting into the congee), or just have it as it it. My husband prefers it with a pinch of salt. :) Mix mung beans with boiled rice is also good.

Anyway, I am talking about this is also because summer is here, it is good to have mung beans time to time to have a natural balance of your body heat. I love its taste as well.

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Culture Note: Three meals a day in China
Cooking note: adding water
Culture note: the names of Chinese dishes
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