Getting Rid of Turkey Day Bloat
By Rebecca A. Petrovic, LMT
Regardless if you are having deep-fried turkey, or a beautiful ham, or the new-fangled tur-duck-en (for those who missed it, this is an amazing Franken-bird made of turkey, duck, and chicken), Thanksgiving for most Americans includes overdoing it on fatty foods, meats, breads, starches, and desserts. Chinese medicine (and many folk traditions as well) use certain berries, bulbs, seeds, roots, twigs, and herbs to deal with “food stagnation.”
One recipe that stands out to me in this case is for Cranberry-Hawthorn Berry Chutney. It is a simple thing to make. You will need a bag of fresh cranberries, and some fresh hawthorn berries. You can find hawthorn berries often at Whole Foods, or at one of the Asian food markets. Here in Chicago you will easily find them at the markets in Chinatown or near Argyle and Broadway.
The great thing about hawthorn berries, known as shan zha, or crataegi fructus, is that they specifically address food stagnation from meats and greasy, heavy foods. In the Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, 3rd edition (Bensky, et al.), it states that:
Crataegi Fructus (shan zha) awakens the spleen, unbinds the stomach, promotes food intake, and assists digestion. It is particularly useful for problems due to overindulgence in meat and greasy foods… It also enters the liver channel blood level to disperse stasis, invigorate the blood, transform clumps, and reduce distention. In this way it treats food stagnation, epigastric and abdominal distention, childhood nutritional impairment, watery diarrhea and dysenteric disorders. Because it invigorates the blood, it is also used for amenorrhea, abdominal masses, blood stasis following parturition (childbirth), and prolonged lochia (discharges of mucus, blood and tissue debris from the vagina after childbirth).
Caution: Because of the blood-moving quality of hawthorn berry, it is strongly cautioned that pregnant women do not ingest much of it. Bensky states, “Large doses are absolutely contraindicated during pregnancy, as this can lead to fetal death.” A normal dose is about nine to twelve grams, that’s about how much is in one serving.
Cranberry-Hawthorn Berry Chutney
1 package (12 oz) cranberries (about 4 cups) -washed and checked.
1 cup hawthorn berries- washed and checked.
1 cup sugar (I prefer an organic sugar, but any will work.)
1 cup water
**Optional- orange peel (or other citrus peel), cinnamon, or nutmeg.
It is best to use a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel saucepan. The aluminum can interact with the food you are cooking, and is not good to use when cooking herbs and medicinals.
Bring water to a boil, stir in sugar to dissolve. Once sugar is dissolved, and cranberries and return to boil, reduce heat. Simmer for about ten minutes, until the cranberries break open.
Once the cranberries are ready, you add the hawthorn berries; they only need a few minutes on simmer to be cooked enough. Add orange peel, cinnamon, and or nutmeg for added flavor and digestive aid.
Remove from heat. Allow to cool completely, before chilling it in the refrigerator. It will thicken as it cools. (Makes about 2.5 cups- about 5 servings)
Citrus peel- aka chen pi, ju hong, or hua ju hong- these three peels have nearly the same properties and all three enter the lung and stomach channels, chen pi and hua ju hong also enter the spleen channel. Spleen and stomach are the two top channels for digestive function (small intestine is a close third). The lung channel relates to digestion only in that if it cannot properly descend the food and waste to the stomach and intestines, then the proper digestive functions don’t happen. So ju hong (red tangerine peel) is mainly helpful for belching, vomiting and treating a phlegm-damp cough. The other two are more for actual food stagnation. Fresh peels are very acrid and drying, therefore only a small amount should be used. If you have dried peels you may use more.
Cinnamon- aka gui zhi, or cinnamomi ramulus is mainly known for its help with the “common cold” in this case, it is just the fact that it is warming and ameliorating. It helps the digestive function run smoother (like a gas treatment for your car). It allows the other organs to do their jobs and helps along the other herbs to get things going the right way. Also, a caution for pregnant women and women with excessive menstruation, do not eat too much cinnamon (eat less than 6 grams of cinnamon).
Nutmeg- aka rou dou kou, or myristicae semen- enters large intestine, spleen, and stomach channels. This allows for warming the spleen and stomach, promoting the movement of Qi, and binding up the intestines, which stops diarrhea.
Happy eating!! And Blessings to you all this Thanksgiving! I am thankful for each one of you. : )