When I prepare the healing foods and food combinations for my patients I usually recommend four meals instead of three, the fourth being afternoon snack with herbal tea. I also recommend that fruits should be consumed in the afternoon rather than the morning because of their cooling nature. As the Spleen likes warm and dry it would be better to introduce warm and drying foods for breakfast and lunch and enjoy the healthy delicious fruits in the afternoon. An herbal tea to accompany the afternoon snack makes the experience more soothing and additionally works for the patients' benefit. So here is a little fruit snack and a simple herbal tea to go with it that would fit nicely with the energy of the “late summer”.
Here in China (in the Southeast part at least) a seasonal fruit during “late summer” is Long Yan, which translates to Dragons’ Eye. In Chinese medicine this fruit is used as an herb and known as Long Yan Rou – Dragon’s Eye Meat. It enters both the Spleen and Heart channels and benefits the mental aspects of these organs. It is majorly used for pensiveness/overthinking – the emotion of the Spleen (please scroll back and read the post “The Spleen Governs the Thought”). By tonifying the Heart it calms the spirit – the Heart “houses the mind” – and benefits insomnia (you can read about the Heart from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine here The Heart in Harmony). Delicious and sweet it tonifies both the Qi and the mood. If you have Long Yan in your area definitely get some for your afternoon snack!
Another fruit that is more accessible in the West is Da Zao – Big Date. It also tonifies the Qi and calms the spirit. It is additionally used for irritability, making it essential for our daily diet as in today’s world irritability is one of the most commonly experienced negative emotions. Couple of dates with your afternoon tea will give you more energy, benefit your mood, and also nourish your blood.
Another simple and accessible “late summer” afternoon fruit is the apple (find yellow ones if you can). It tonifies Spleen Qi and its cooling nature clears heat from the Stomach benefiting acid regurgitation and burning stomach pain, which mental manifestation is also irritability.
The tea: two simple and commonly used herbs in the West with strong effect on the digestive system and the spirit – Chamomile and St John’s Wort. Both yellow herbs, both benefit different organs that belong to the digestive system, both soothe the mind, i.e. relief anxiety, fight depression and psychological imbalances, counteract stress.
Making the tea is also simple: take two equal parts of both herbs and mix them up. Use two table spoons of the mix and add 500-600 ml hot water. Let it soak for 20 min and enjoy! You could add a date or two for more nourishment and some honey if you like your tea sweet.
Steal 15 min from your busy schedule and give yourself a nutritious afternoon snack and a soothing herbal tea. It WILL make a difference!