Congee is a healing rice porridge used as an everyday medicine to heal and sustain your health
Where does this healthy, simple rice porridge come from?
This ancient recipe from Traditional Chinese Medicine heals your gut health and is a real dish for kings. Food is one of the most important pillars of sustaining health and therefore, congee is high up the list! This silky, savoury porridge is an everyday breakfast in China and in some other parts of the world. Congee is also called jook, khao tom moo, and arrozcaldo.
What are the health benefits of eating congee?
To be straight with you, you have probably eaten more intense flavoured dishes. However, this simple grain soup is easily digested and assimilated, tonifies the blood and the Qi, harmonizes the digestion and soothes inflammation. It ensures an optimal balance for Yin and Yang which results in good health. If you want to detox your body, cure your intestinal flora, lose some weight or enhance energy circulation, eat this creamy rice porridge on a regular basis.
Which health problems can be addressed with congee?
– red skin rashes like atopic dermatitis, eczema, acne – water retention (oedema) – overweight – food allergies – digestive problems, especially stomach burning, soft stools, diarrhoea – hot flashes – cellulite – endometriosis – cysts, fibroids and myomas – chronic bladder infections and urinary tract infections – headaches and migraines – menstruation problems – recurrent lung infections and respiratory allergies – congested nose and sinuses
When should you avoid eating congee?
– during pregnancy – if you are underweight or suffering from anorexia – if you have chronic ice-cold feet and constant freezing – if you are experiencing chronic constipation and hard, painful stools – when feeling very weak and exhausted
To prepare congee, you simply need to simmer a small amount of rice in a large amount of water for several hours (3-4 hours).
1 cup rice (around 100g)
2.5 litre of water
The proportion must be 1: 10. If your digestion is weak, take white rice. Otherwise, I recommend you whole grain rice. Always take organic rice to lower the risk of having arsenic in your rice.
Pressure cooker (needs less cooking time, around 1-2 hours) or saucepan with a lid.
How to cook
Combine the rice and water in the cooker.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and partially cover.
Continue simmering for around 3-4 hours (pressure cooker less). Stir the congee from time to time. If the porridge is getting too stiff, add more water.
Serve the congee in a bowl and enjoy with a spoon. No spices, salt and fat are added.
Congee can also be cooked from other grains depending on the therapeutic goals.
How often should I eat congee?
This depends on which issues and goals you have. You can replace one of your regular daily meals with a bowl of congee. Ideally eaten in the morning between 7 – 11 am as this is when the spleen and stomach are most active. The congee warms up the digestive system and sets a good foundation for the body to absorb the nutrients from the rest of the food that you will eat throughout the day.
If you want to do a rice cure, simply eat the congee for 3 to 7 days. At least 3 days are necessary, as it is during this period of time that a person’s gut bacteria changes. To further help the body rinse out the toxins, it is recommended that you drink plenty of hot, boiled water and herbal teas based on your personal demand. If you have slight problems of evacuation of the bowels, soak some chia seeds overnight in water and add them to your congee.
About the author Carina Greweling
Carina is a state-approved naturopath from Germany who studied after her exam Chinese medicine, craniosacrale therapy and Bach flowers and deepened her knowledge of meditation and yoga while she was living in India. She offers in her practice in Paris tailor-made treatments and is specialised in women’s health. In regular workshops and yoga retreats she proposes to gain deeper knowledge and inspiration about a healthy body and mind. She also gives online consultations.
Many women come to see me for a fertility consultation after being diagnosed with low AMH levels by their gynaecologist.
This can be devastating news as they then believe that they have little or no chance at all of falling pregnant naturally, and also have a reduced success rate of artificial insemination (AI) or in vivo fertilisation (IVF). Furthermore, they often believe that their only option to conceive may be through the use of a donor egg.
What is the AMH hormone and how can it be measured?
The Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) is secreted by cells in developing egg sacs within the follicles of the ovaries. Each woman is born with an ovarian reserve which is the total number of eggs that she will ever produce in her life. With age, the ovarian reserve of a woman naturally decreases until she reaches menopause and consequently, the AMH levels diminish as well. The AMH level therefore reflects the number of eggs carried through the maturation process and will always be looked at on an age-based scale.
The AMH level test can be done on any day of the menstrual cycle. The higher the AMH level, the more eggs a woman has, and consequently her chances of falling pregnant are increased.
Some patients have decreased or very low AMH levels and therefore fewer eggs, this condition is called diminished ovarian reserve (DOR).
Can women with low AMH level or diminished ovarian reserve still conceive?
To better understand this, we need to look closely at the process of follicle maturation. Before follicles develop, they are microscopic in size and are named primordial follicles. Even though they do not produce detectable amounts of AMH, they are still in the tissue of the ovaries.
After a maturation process of approximately 10 months in the ovaries they develop large enough to appear in the ultrasound imaging and are called antral follicles. At this antral follicle size, they begin to produce quantifiable amounts of AMH.
If AMH levels are very low or undetectable, it does not necessarily mean there are no eggs left in the ovaries. However, it will tell us if there are fewer than normal, depending on the age of the woman concerned.
Therefore, women with very low or undetectable AMH levels still have a chance to conceive without an egg donor, and the younger the woman, the better the chance of conception.
Which factors can contribute to reduced AMH levels?
Vitamin D deficiency
Ovarian or cyst surgery
Smoking and drinking alcohol regular
Overweight (BMI >25)
Accelerated aging due to lifestyle
Low blood circulation to the ovaries
How can Acupuncture and Chinese medicine help with low AMH level
In my practice, we will embark on an investigation to work out any underlying causes for your low AMH level and as a result some nutrition and lifestyle changes may be necessary. And, although the egg quantity can’t be changed we can certainly improve egg health significantly and also create better health conditions.
Regular acupuncture sessions and herbal treatment are said to:
promote and increase blood flow to the ovaries
result in healthier eggs with higher fertilisation rates
create an optimal environment for the egg to mature properly
support you physically and emotionally in your process
improve correct hormone functions
maintain a healthy pregnancy and prevent miscarriage
helps optimal uterine lining
increase stress response
lower high levels of cortisol
Diet in Chinese medicine is another very important factor. The nutrition advice differs from person to person due to their given Chinese medicine diagnosis. However, some general advice exists for improving the chances to conceive.
Women with low AMH level should:
eat mostly whole foods and eliminate processed foods
eliminate sugar which can cause inflammation and other health issues
consume protein from vegetables, white meat and fish
reduce or avoid completely red meat
reduce coffee and black tea
Yoga – Can it improve fertility in women with low AMH levels?
Women affected with low AMH levels can increase their fertility with yoga. Through my diagnosis based on Chinese medicine, I know which meridians (energy pathways connected with the inner organs) are concerned and I can offer specific yoga poses which strengthen these meridians.
Yoga for fertility will also help to:
reduce anxiety, worries and stress
improve the blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus
improve flexibility in the hip and pelvic area
can help to improve or heal underlying responsible conditions
A customised set of yoga postures is a real booster for conceiving more easily and can afterwards result in a healthy pregnancy and good delivery.
She is a state-approved naturopath from Germany who studied after her exam Chinese medicine, craniosacral therapy and Bach flowers and deepened her knowledge of meditation and yoga while she was living in India. She offers in her practice in Paris and online tailor-made treatments and is specialised in women’s health. In regular workshops and yoga retreats she proposes to gain deeper knowledge and inspiration about a healthy body and mind.
Libido-Boosting Foods that Improve your Sexual Drive
Do you need fuel for your bedroom fire? Every one of us experiences phases of low libido, and sometimes our need for sex does not match our partners.
However, if your lack of interest in sex lasts for long periods, even though you still desire your partner, it is possible that the cause lies in your health. There are natural ways to boost a low sex drive, and one way is to eat the right foods.
How can diet boost your sex drive
I have selected some sex drive foods that can help to light up your sexual fire.
Oysters – Studies showed that a zinc deficiency can lead to lower testosterone levels and therefore influence the libido. Oysters are very rich in zinc, as well as other nutrients. Make sure to eat fresh ones of high quality!
Black sesame seeds – These little treasures … contain a lot of zinc as well as other essential nutrients like magnesium, calcium and iron. Sesame seeds are therefore believed to prolong life in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Roasted, toasted and in the form of a tahini paste, they can add flavour to foods like a porridge, soup, salad and other dishes. Yummy!
Walnuts – Rich in the plant-based essential fatty acid omega 3 while containing high amounts of copper and vitamin E they benefit, among other things, a healthy cardiovascular system function. They are best eaten in a porridge, salad or with chicory baked in the oven.
Royal Jelly – A pretty amazing secretion made by worker honeybees which contains plenty of minerals, vitamins like A, C, D, E, and is very rich in most B vitamins. Royal jelly also has small amount of testosterone, which may help explain its benefits for libido. It is therefore not only a real boost for the sex drive, but also for the immune system as it is said to also have antibacterial and wound-healing properties. A real sweet and sexy honey bee product!
Watermelon – Often referred to as the natural viagra, watermelon is said to improve sexual desire due to its compound L-citrulline. L-citrulline helps boost the blood flow and decrease tiredness. It is also commonly used in the treatment of high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction. A stimulating starter for every romantic invitation!
Today’s diet rich in sugar, fatty foods, red meat and processed products has a huge impact on the health. An unhealthy diet can lead to inflammation in the body, low energy levels and reduced blood flow in the genital area and therefore a decreased libido function.
Simply eating the above listed foods, while continuing with a generally bad diet, will not produce the desired results. If you want to feel healthy and balanced, one of the first steps is to have a proper, satisfying and complete nutrition. Following the right diet will not just help achieve your dream weight and overall health, but it will also increase your libido.
Why not boost your sex drive right away by cooking something delicious and healthy?
Another Top Tip for increasing sexual pleasure
Have you ever heard of a Kegel exerciser? Regular exercises can train your pelvic floor muscles and therefore help boost libido in both men and women. With a kegel exerciser women can strengthen the vaginal muscles for a more powerful orgasm and it could help men to delay ejaculation. A strengthend pelvic floor can lead to better sexual function and satisfaction.
Nearly everyone of us knows someone who is suffering from a thyroid disease, women are above-average more likely to be affected than men. Hypothyroidism develops when the thyroid produces less thyroid hormones needed for metabolism, energy and other functions in the body. This can have a significant impact on your health and well-being. Sometimes this condition remains undiscovered or is confused with other diseases because the symptoms are likely to be linked to other medical issues. A very common cause of hypothyroidism is the Hashimoto disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Once discovered, symptoms of hypothyroidism, can be eased with the right foods and herbs. Which symptoms could you show when suffering from a hypothyroidism?
Possible symptoms of hypothyroidism could be
Fatigue and tiredness
Constipation or low bowel movement
Weight gain without eating more
Brittle hair and nails
Dry, itchy skin
Chinese medicine and naturopathy offer effective solutions. All the listed symptoms are possible with hypothyroidism and according to Chinese medicine, belong to a kidney yang and spleen yang deficiency with the exception of hair loss which shows a blood/yin deficiency.
A kidney and spleen yang deficiency means not enough fire – warmth – in the body. An easy and very efficient way to build up more warmth in the body is to eat more cooked meals. It takes time, but after applying these nutritional tips for several months you should feel warmer, have a better digestion, more energy and less water retention.
The best foods for easing symptoms of hypothyroidism
Legumes (if you can digest it well): black and green beans, adzuki beans, lentils;
Millet is often advised not to eat as it contains contain goitrogens which could interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Many people suffering from hypothyroidism find relief in their symptoms when eating a gluten free diet.
Implementing the right diet will help you feel better and prevent symptoms getting worse. Herbal plants can support the process and are an efficient aid in your healing journey.
The most powerful herbs for treating hypothyroidism
Echinacea – Improves the immune system function.
Ashwagandha – Helps to balance hormones, to boost endurance and to respond better to stress. It is said to help combat inflammation and to improve your immunity.
Licorice – May help to lower levels of cortisol and to increase energy.
Motherwort – Can help to reduce heart palpitations, hot flashes, anxiety and hypersensitivity of the skin.
Besides eating the right foods and taking powerful herbs for the thyroid, the cooking method and some general lifestyle adaptions can be made for improving your condition.
General advices for hypothyroidism:
Eat a cooked breakfast like a porridge.
Eat a cooked lunch and if possible dinner as well.
Stews, soups and dishes from the baking oven should be eaten often.
Reduce cold drinks, sugar and cow milk products.
Don´t consume ice-cold drinks and ice-cream.
Reduce raw foods esp. tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, watermelon and tropical fruits as they produce a lot of cold.
Don’t drink juice fruits.
Reduce coffee and alcohol.
Do without convenience foods.
Take warm baths and make sure your feet are always warm.
Check your iodine levels regularly.
Verify that your body has enough zinc, selenium, vitamin B12, vitamin A and iron.
If you take levothyroxine medication, make sure to leave 4-6 hours between the intake and vitamin products that contain ferrous sulphate (iron) and calcium carbonate. The reason for that is it may interfere with the absorption of the medication. The same applies for consuming espresso, high fibre foods and soy products.
Healing exclusively with nutrition and herbs is not possible when suffering from a severe under function of the thyroid. They will however, help lower the intake of your medications or to support other natural medicine therapies. With the right foods and herbs you can stimulate the self-healing powers and assist your body. You can achieve better results by getting in contact with a health consultant who helps you decide which foods and herbs are the best for your individual case.
About the author Carina Greweling She is a state-approved naturopath from Germany who studied after her exam Chinese medicine, craniosacrale therapy and Bach flowers and deepened her knowledge of meditation and yoga while she was living in India. She offers in her practice in Paris tailor-made treatments and is specialised in women’s health. In regular workshops and yoga retreats she proposes to gain deeper knowledge and inspiration about a healthy body and mind. She also gives online consultations.
Do you feel restless in the evening and have difficulties falling asleep? Do you maybe feel anxious, dizzy and get easily scared? Then it could be possible that you suffer from a heart blood deficiency.
Traditional Chinese medicine can help alleviate the symptoms through the use of acupuncture and herbal treatments. However, by examining our diets and eliminating some of the culprits whilst increasing the intake of foods that benefit the heart can lead to a renewed healthier physical state.
The heart is considered as the emperor of the body which hosts the spirit also called « Shen ». According to the “Yellow Emperor’s Classic”—the oldest known writings in Chinese medicine—the strength of the Shen is fundamental to good health: “If Shen is strong, the body will be strong; if we lose Shen, the body will perish.” Spirit and Shen are closely linked. For example the spirit can be disturbed by extreme emotions, negative and positive ones and then disturbs the Shen.
Besides treating this condition at my TCM practice with acupuncture and herbs, it is essential to change nutrition and life style habits to attain and maintain a healthy state again. What are the symptoms and reasons for this condition? Which foods can improve it?
The symptoms of a heart blood deficiency
Palpitations (more pronounced in the evening)
Problems to fall asleep
Dream disturbed sleep
Scanty or absent periods (amenorrhoea)
The reasons which lead to it
Consuming spicy foods regularly
Eating too less and nutrient-poor foods
Having too much meat, especially deep-fried and grilled
Constant stress and pressure of time
Drinking too much alcohol and black tea
Severe blood loss e.g. childbirth, after an operation, etc.
Chronic worry and anxiety disturbs the shen
Dietary insufficiencies and over-thinking which causes spleen qi deficiency that can cause blood deficiency
The foods that help
For the successful treatment of a heart blood deficiency it is important to avoid everything what harms the heart (see above under reasons) and to eat the right foods.
Foods that benefit the heart
All kinds of berries
Black sesame seeds
Octopus, oyster and sardines
It takes some time to rebuild heart blood and it is necessary to eat these food regularly and adapted to the season. To strengthen your heart and to support the process you should focus on maintaining a positive outlook, practicing benevolence and compassion, getting enough rest, seeking peace and tranquility, meditating and going out in nature.
About the author
Carina Greweling is a state-approved naturopath from Germany who studied after her exam Chinese medicine and Bach flowers and deepened her knowledge of meditation and yoga while she was living in India. In regular workshops and yoga retreats she proposes to gain deeper knowledge and inspiration about a healthy body and mind. She also gives online consultations.
The liver, associated with spring in Chinese Medicine, is the largest organ of your body and is always busy rinsing your body of toxins and performs over 500 functions. It’s responsible for an astounding variety of life-sustaining and health-promoting tasks. Some of the very important jobs are detoxifying your blood, producing the bile needed to digest fats, balancing cholesterol and your hormones and storing vitamins, iron and minerals.
It is doing a big job! That is why it is so necessary to keep this overachieving organ in optimal shape. The power of your liver to regenerate is incredible. But before we get to the smooth liver detox, let us take a look what Chinese Medicine has to say about this amazing organ and how your body reacts if the liver is in imbalance.
The Liver in Chinese Medicine
The liver regulates Qi, the vital energy, that sustains life and stores blood. It carries Qi around the body and supports the functioning of our organs, limbs and tissues. While you’re awake, the liver controls the flow of blood out into the muscles and sinews during activity, and brings it back to the liver during night to clean it. The liver controls as well the tendons and sinews, opens into the eyes and manifests in the nails. On a physical level it gives us strength and flexibility.
It expresses itself in a free flow of emotions and the emotion of anger is associated with it. Suppressing your feelings or uncontrolled outbursts, lead to an imbalance of the liver energy. When it is in balance, you can express your feelings adequately.
The liver also houses the “Hun”, or soul, which gives us our consciousness and sense of purpose. This spirit is as well responsible for loving kindness, awareness of suffering, empathy, compassion, and tolerance. If the liver energy is strong, you will have a clear overview of your life and you are able to plan, focus and make decisions.
Some signs of bad liver health are bloating, gas, constipation, haemorrhoids, problems to digest fat, skin and eye problems, inability to loose weight, high blood pressure, yellowish skin or eyes, migraines and headaches, fertility problems, muscular weakness and insomnia. The menstruation is also greatly effected by it and keeps your menstrual cycles running smoothly but when in imbalance shows up in absent or infrequent menstrual periods, excessive, prolonged or shortened bleeding, painful periods and clots. Emotionally it can express in unexplained irritability, moodiness, anger, bitterness, unkindness and impatience.
Fortunately, you can help improve your liver’s functioning.
How to do a smooth Liver Detox
While doing a liver detox it is important to reduce stress and demanding physical workouts. Try to create more time for doing the things you love and that benefit your well-being e.g. taking walks, participating in a yoga class, seeing friends, reading a book, just to name a few.
Start your day by drinking a cup of hot water with some freshly squeezed lemon and a teaspoon of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. For the rest of the day continue drinking cooked water and/or a herbal tea with a mix of the following liver supporting herbs: dandelion, milk thistle, parsley, chamomile, licorice, lemon balm, yarrow, orange blossom. A cup of green tea per day is also supportive.
Your breakfast can be a vegetable soup or if you crave for something sweet a cooked porridge is great as well e.g. mix millet and quinoa and add an apple or pear with some dried fruits. At the end of the cooking process you can season it with cardamom and add some nutritional yeast flakes.
At lunch you can eat a vegetable soup, a rice-vegetable dish or another vegan dish. It is important that it is steamed, cooked or out of the oven. Avoid any fried food. Let your dish be accompanied by a salad with endives, rocket, dandelion or field salad with fresh herbs like basil, parsley, watercress, dill or chive. As a dressing, mix fresh lemon with olive or sesame oil.
Your cooked dinner should be eaten before 7pm, as after this time the digestion slows down.
For any hunger in between you can eat an apple or some slices of cucumber.
If you need some inspiration what to cook you can find here some ideas: Recipes
Choose foods which are especially good for your liver:
Grains like amaranth, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice
Vegetables like green veggies (e.g. artichokes, asparagus, celery, dandelion, kale, brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, garden sorrel, leek), fresh green herbs, beets, sweet potatoes, turmeric
Legumes (soak them overnight so that they are easier digestible) like white, kidney and lima beans
Fruits like lemons, limes, strawberries (clean the blood), berries
Start the detox for a week and if you feel well, you can extend it. You should eat vegan during this time and after finishing the detox, introduce other foods step by step. Slight headaches, skin irritations and slight changes in the digestion are normal signs of the detox. However, if you are not feeling well or you experience unexpected discomforts then please stop the detox. When you suffer from any illnesses, then consult your practitioner or doctor before starting.
To sustain a proper liver function you should reduce or avoid the following things in the future
Excess dietary fats, especially trans fat
Refined carbohydrates, including white rice and products made from white flour
Soy protein isolates, found in many protein energy bars and processed soy foods
Regular and too much alcohol, over-the-counter drugs and caffeine
6 Tips to support the Liver
1. Acupressure point liver 3 “Tai Chong” One of the most popular points in Chinese medicine. If you are feeling cranky, irritable or angry, this point has a calming effect. It is also used for menstrual disorders, headaches, dizziness, detoxification, eye issues and promotes the flow of Qi in the body. Just to name a few of the wonderful effects of this point.
You find it on the dorsum of the foot in a depression distal to the junctions of the 1st and 2nd metatarsal bones, slide your thumb up until you feel a depression about 1/2 inch up. Massage or press it.
2. Meditate daily It is a process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. You can use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Regular meditation helps to release stress, calms the mind and improves your concentration significantly. Here you can find different meditations with different length: Mindful Meditations
3. Essential oils for your well-being They are natural remedies used for various conditions and also can improve the health of skin, hair and body. Inhaled, added in a drink or applied on the skin, they can help with emotional and physical problems. Lemon supports the cleansing process, wild orange benefits a healthy immune system and promotes a free flow of liver Qi and lavender has calming and relaxing qualities. You can find here more information of how they can be used and benefit your health: doTerra
4. Move your liver Qi To support a smooth flow of liver Qi, you can try Qigong or another energy practice to get your Qi flowing and release toxins from your body. You’ll feel lighter and less tense in mind-body-spirit.
5. Let it out and free your emotions! Shout or break things (in a safe space) to release your frustrations and anger. I can suggest balloons, bubble wrap, or pillows. Also shouting in free nature can be a big relief (my personal favourite).
6. Sleep According to Chinese Medicine, it is crucial to sleep latest at 11pm in order to support the organs gallbladder and liver in their function. This is because the gallbladder’s most active time is from 11pm to 1am and the liver’s “repair time” starts at 1am for two hours.
She is a state-approved naturopath from Germany who studied after her exam Chinese medicine, craniosacral therapy and Bach flowers and deepened her knowledge of meditation and yoga while she was living in India. She offers in her practice in Paris tailor-made treatments and is specialised in women´s health. In regular workshops and yoga retreats she proposes to gain deeper knowledge and inspiration about a healthy body and mind. She also gives online consultations. Contact her if you have any questions.