As the days are shorter and fall is winding down, most Michiganders are physically and emotionally preparing for winter. Boosting the immune system is important during this time of the year, especially in the wake of Covid, flu and RSV. While diet, exercise and good rest is always an important piece of this puzzle, Chinese Herbal Medicine can also be used to help support immunity. There are several well known Chinese herbs that are used in cooking and can be found at the local grocery store. These include garlic, ginger, cinnamon, scallion, cardamon and miso. Cooking with these herbs on a regular basis can help boost immunity and even treat the early stages of colds and viruses.
Miso soup is a version of a common Chinese herbal formula (Cong Chi Tang) that can be used in early stages of a cold. (when just starting to feel a little more tired, a little more congested and a tickle in the throat.) The classic formula is made up of just 2 herbs—fermented soybean and scallion. These two herbs are used to expel the pathogen from the body and support the body’s defense (immune) qi. In practical use, make sure to add a plentiful amount of fresh scallions! The spicy flavor helps to “expel wind pathogens” (which translates to the virus, in Chinese medical terms). See below for a classic Miso Soup recipe.
Cinnamon twigs are also an important Chinese herb to use during cold and flu season. Use it daily in your coffee or tea and increase the dose once any mild cold symptoms begin. Enjoy!
If you are looking for a medicinal formula, Chinese herbs are most commonly prescribed by an acupuncturist in the form of tinctures, tea pills, capsules or granules. These formulas are made up of a combination of herbs and are the most effective means of strengthening immunity to lessen the severity and duration of any infection. These herbs are dispensed at our clinic and are often utilized during the fall and winter seasons for prevention and reduction.
BASIC MISO SOUP
1/2 cup wakame or kombu, cooked and cut into small pieces.
2-3 tablespoons miso
1 1/2 cups chopped vegetables (see options below)
4 cups water (soup stock or seaweed/soak in water)
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
Sauté vegetables along with seaweed. Add water and bring to a scald. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered 15 minutes. Cream miso in a little broth, return to soup. Bring soup back to scald and remove from heat. Garnish. Serves 4-6.
Vegetables: Daikon, leek, onion, burdock root, eggplant, mushrooms, turnips, carrot, cabbage, potatoes, spinach, lotus root, sweet potatoes, bean sprouts, wild vegetables, chrysanthemum, tofu, wheat gluten, and seaweeds.
Basic Miso Soup recipe courtesy of Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford