Chinese Medicine and Drinking Tea By The Season
Chinese Tea, Seasonal Energies – Yin, and Yang.
In the old Chinese Taoist culture there was an understanding of how the natural forces and energies of the world functioned and how humans interacted within these cycles. The Yin/Yang Symbol represents this universal energy cycle. This is something that has been lost in today’s busy life however, ironically, modern science is now starting to validate this old esoteric knowledge.
Earth’s path in its orbit around the sun is responsible for the different seasons we experience. It has been demonstrated that we need sunlight to perform many biological functions within our body. The same is also true for plants and other animal life. Sunlight has over the 1500 wavelengths which, when exposed to them, stimulates beneficial biological activity within our bodies.
The abundance or lack of sunlight impacts our health and it effects our circadian rhythm, endocrine systems (hormones) and nervous systems.
The waxing and waning of the moon effects large oceans and lakes of water. It also influences the function of electrolytes in our body and other chemicals. The moon influences the level of moisture in the soil, hence farmers once planted by the full moon so seedlings benefited from a higher water content in the soil during this full moon. The moon affects humans, most notably the female hormonal cycles.
In Taoist and Chinese medicine philosophy it is stated that each season regulates and influences a different organ in the human body: Spring-Liver/Gallbladder, Summer-Heart/Pericardium, Late Summer-Spleen/Stomach, Autumn-Lung/Large Intestine, Winter-Kidney/Bladder. These organs and energies are also associated with different emotions. If they are unbalanced then the emotion will be in excess: Spring-Anger, Summer-Joy, Late Summer-Worry, Autumn-Grief, Winter-Fear. If the seasons influence the chemical processes and endocrine/hormonal systems of our bodies then it is easy to see that our emotions can also be influenced.
Sunlight, Seasons, Health and Science
One example of solar seasonal influence upon our emotional health and well being is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that affects many people who live in countries with limited sunlight (1, 2). Many people experience depression when they are not exposed to enough sunlight. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in response to sunlight. It’s long been known that the pineal hormone – melatonin, plays an important role as a chemical mediator in human biology with regards to the effects of season (3).
Sunlight seems to regulate our levels of serotonin (4, 5) which is one of the hormones/neurotransmitters responsible for mood and happiness. Another hormone (steroid hormone) affected by the seasons and sunlight is Cortisol (6). Cortisol plays a part in regulating the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (7). Some recent studies have found that our DNA is also influenced by the seasons and weather (8). Another interesting example is the down regulation of testosterone and up-regulation of oestrogen in men during winter (9, 10). This could also be true for women but there hasn’t been ant studies in this regards. It seems that our endocrine systems experience a type of hormonal hibernation during winter.
Chinese Medicine and Season Diets
Chinese medicine and Taoist philosophy have understood that as the seasons change so should our diet so as to counter-act the effects of the seasons. The great Chinese medical classic called the Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic – Huangdi Neijing (11) explains that we should eat foods based upon the seasonal energies.
In Chinese medicine the element (water, wood, fire, earth and metal) associated with each of the seasons tends to have a stronger energy manifesting in the body depending upon a particular season.
To maintain the balance within our body and organs we should eat foods that would not make this energy any stronger than it already is, we should try to modulate this energy by eating foods that moderate the abundant energy.
For instance, in spring the flavour/taste associated with spring is sour. We should not eat sour foods in this time as they will increase the livers energy. The predominate emotion of the liver is anger therefore sour foods would impact our emotions by raising the levels of anger. We should eat mildly sweet foods as they promote the energy of the spleen (earth) which needs to be reinforced when the liver energy is exuberant.
Drinking Teas by the Season.
After all the information that has been presented we can see that our bodies do in fact respond and interact with the seasons and weather. Now it is time to explain the teas that we should be drinking during the changes in the seasons. In spring it is desirable to drink white tea as this teas energy corresponds to the season of spring. In mid summer we should be drinking yellow tea. In late summer we should be consuming green tea. In the autumn we should be drinking oolong tea and in the winter we should be drinking black tea and pu-erh tea.
When we analyse the antioxidant contents of the teas we see that the less processed white tea, yellow tea and green tea have higher levels of polyphenols (catechins/EGCG) that play a role in cleaning up any free radical oxidants in the body. These free radicals can be from outside the body (exogenous) or produced within the body (endogenous) as a result of biological metabolic activity (hormonal or enzymatic) that is up-regulated in the spring and summer seasons.
When the hormone/endocrine system is awakening in spring and strongly functioning in summer our body will produce more endogenous oxidants than we would in winter time when our endocrine system goes into a semi-hibernation. Therefore, in spring and summer, we should be consuming white tea, yellow tea and green teas which have a cooling down-regulating effect upon our body.
We should consume oolong tea in autumn when our endocrine system is down-regulating while still not as slow as it would be in the winter season. Autumn is the season of transition between summer and winter. Oolong tea has the energies of both summer as well as winter. Because oolong tea is not fully oxidised it has the nature of a green tea (polyphenol catechins/EGCG) as well as a black tea (polyphenol theaflavins & thearubigins).
When we analyse the antioxidant content of black tea and pu-erh tea we see higher levels of the polyphenols called theaflavins and thearubigins. These type of polyphenols have the effect of up-regulating and maintaining the metabolism and enzyme activity in the body thus producing a less intense endogenous and exogenous free radical antioxidant function whilst facilitating a tonifying warming function in the body.
Golden Ocean Chinese Tea
Specialising in various kinds of Black tea, Green tea, White tea, Yellow tea, Oolong tea, Dark tea, Pu Erh Tea, Scented tea, Flowering tea, Herbal tea and Tea Powder, Tea ware, Tea pots, cups, mugs, Tea canisters, Tea containers. We supply the finest and rarest Chinese teas imported directly from China.
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