As we move into the autumn season, we enter the time of year of the Metal Element.
The Metal Element relates to the Lungs, immune system, and elimination. It is one of the 5 elements in Chinese Medical Theory. The 5 elements are the web between the natural on the outside, as well as the natural world on the inside of the body. It teaches the circadian rhythm, and the ebb and flow of nature. As Metal relates to autumn, Water relates to winter, Wood relates to spring, Fire relates to summer, and Earth is really the transition time between all, but is also viewed as the harvest season. Each element also relates to an organ pair, and keeps a close watch on the health and function of the paired organs.
By having a clearer understanding of the natural order of the seasons, one can live in close harmony, protecting his or herself the dangers of imbalance. Our health depends on understanding the seasons, and monitoring ourselves. The 5 element model is such a tool, to empower our self and help keep our health optimal.
The Fall season is the last attempt for your body to rid itself of toxins, or pathological factors before Winter when your body naturally slows down and rests.
This is a time for spices. A time to purge the body and build up resources for the upcoming season. The flavor of the Metal Element is Spicy, but not necessarily spicy hot. Spicy can be ginger, or garlic, or cloves, to give examples. We use spices as a flavor to a main dish, but we never pay too much attention to the healing properties of them.
Being that we are moving into colder weather, we transition between being outdoors to being more indoors, we should drink hot fluids, more specifically, hot teas. This is the perfect season for hot, spiced teas. Our culture uses hot apple cider with cinnamon during this time, and we indulge in baked goods that are baked with spices. However, they can be too sweet, and cause congestion and poor immune function. The spiced tea is the correct drink for this time of year.
To understand the greatness of this drink, let’s explore the spices used in its preparation. In an authentic Chai tea there are: Cinnamon, Ginger, Fennel seeds, Black Peppercorn, and Green Cardamom Pods. There are other spice combinations due to taste; the five above are usually the base of a spiced Chai drink. Some people prefer to add allspice, or anise, cloves, coriander, and even nutmeg. For this article we will be focusing on the health benefits of the base spices of Chai.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Cassia): Controls blood sugar, improves brain function and long term memory. It protects the heart against heart disease, and some studies have found that it improves colon function. It has shown to prevent cancer, improve circulation, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It helps prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases, reduces cholesterol, and is an antimicrobial that treats respiratory conditions. Cinnamon also reduces pain due to arthritis.
Cinnamon lowers the risks of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, it reduces spikes in blood sugar after meals, improves wound healing, and slows down the formation of new blood vessels to cancerous tumors.
Ginger (Zingiber Officinale): Reduces nausea of any kind, and reduces pain due to menstrual cramps. Ginger has been found to help prevent and treat arthritis, and prevent colds and flu. It is an antifungal, antiviral, and antitussive (reduce cough). Ginger can reduce the risk or prevent asthma, cancer, and cholesterol issues. It also reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, heartburn, indigestion, and migraines.
Fennel Seed (Foeniculum Vulgare): Is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and is antimicrobial. Fennel seeds are also an expectorant, a diuretic, and are rich in antioxidants. They are also a depurative which means they remove toxins from the body. Fennel seeds aid in digestion and reduce gas and bloating, can reduce colic and menstrual cramps. Fennel seeds have been found helpful in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, colitis, dementia, glaucoma, heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes.
Black Peppercorn (Piper Nigrum): Improves nutrient absorption and digestion. It encourages weight loss, and relieves gas and bloating. Black peppercorn also loosens phlegm and clears congestion. It is antimicrobial, and reduces pain from arthritis. Black peppercorn also fights cancer, lowers blood pressure, and improves brain function. It is helpful in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease, constipation, depression, difficulty swallowing, heart disease, indigestion, memory loss, smoking addiction, and thyroid conditions.
Green Cardamom Pods (Elettaria Cardamom): is an antiseptic (stops the growth of microorganisms), is rich in antioxidants, and is antispasmodic (reduces muscle spasms). Cardamom reduces gas and bloating, improves digestion, and is a diuretic. It is an expectorant, improves bad breath, detoxifies the body, and regulates heart rate and lowers blood pressure.
Aside from their many healing and curative properties, all of these spices are also a natural source of many vitamins and minerals. These vitamins and minerals are necessary for optimal health and organ function.
Brewing a Cup of Chai Tea
As with all recipes I offer to my patients, I strongly encourage them to be creative. I give enough to be a start, but everything is to taste. Some people may add allspice, nutmeg, or star anise. This is for your enjoyment. Also the sugar is necessary to help encourage the flavors of the spices. Think of sugar as a spice and not the main component of the meal. This rings true for the milk too. Some may be on strict diets, in that case become creative, try a milk substitute.
Ingredients: (serves 8 cups)
1 tablespoon fennel seed
12 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 (1/4-inch) piece ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
6 black peppercorns
7 cups water
2 tablespoons Darjeeling tea
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup milk
- In a medium saucepan, combine the fennel seed, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, ginger root, peppercorns and 7 cups of water.
- Boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and steep for 10 minutes.
- Add the tea, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
- Strain mixture, discard spices and return the tea to the saucepan.
- Stir in the brown sugar and milk.
- Serve immediately.
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Simply Natural Saturdays by Pistachioproject.com
Recipe courtesy of Kathleen Daelemans