Tag Archives: longevity

The Legend of the Sesame Seed and Immortality


 

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Black Sesame Seed / Hei Zhi Ma,  Image credit

The Legend of the Sesame Seed and Immortality

There is an ancient Chinese legend from the Qing dynasty that pays tribute to the importance of sesame seeds in one’s diet. It is said that during this time, a governor was sent to Yin Tai, a region in the North China Sea, now known as Japan. The Emperor had requested he find a “holy medication” that could give the Emperor immortality. It was thought that the combined energy of 3,000 young men and women who were “pure in spirit” was one source of producing everlasting life. The governor searched high and low through treacherous terrain in mountains and forests for this miraculous remedy that would ensure longevity. Finally after many years of searching, he returned with sesame seeds. His instruction to the Emperor was to take the sesame seeds and its oil everyday in order to be granted a longer life.

Sounds like a good idea to me!  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, black sesame seeds and their oils can be used medicinally to treat a wide variety of symptoms often associated with Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency including constipation, alopecia (hair loss), premature graying of hair, tinnitus (ear ringing), dry skin, chronic low back and knee pain, as well as menstrual health and infertility. It can also be used to help women with insufficient lactation produce more breastmilk. Here’s one way you can gain the health benefits of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Black Sesame Pudding Recipe

160 grams – toasted black sesame seeds

4 tbsps – white glutinous rice

8 cups – distilled water

400 g – raw honey, or other natural sweetener of your choice

Directions:

Wash glutinous rice and allow to soak for two hours. Combine toasted sesame seeds and glutinous rice with 2 cups of water, and blend in food processor until the texture is creamy and smooth. Transfer mixture to a sauce pan and add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil at medium heat. Stir regularly to keep consistency smooth. (Story and recipe adapted from Dan-On Foods and Dan-D Foods )

Want to know more about the many benefits of Black Sesame Seeds?

“Taking black sesame seeds can heal all the chronic illness after 100 days, improve skin tone on body and face after 1 year, reverse gray hair after 2 years, and regrow teeth after 3 years.” says the Compendium of Materia Medica, the largest and most comprehensive medical writings in the history of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This herb is also known as Semen Sesami Nigrum and Hei Zhi Ma and related experiments show that the content of vitamin E contained in this herb is the highest in all foods of plant origin. It is well known that vitamin E can promote cell division and delay cell senescence. Long-term use can counteract or neutralize the accumulation of cell senescence substance of “radicals” and then delay aging and extend life expectancy.” -from Chinese Herbs Healing

 

Rice Congee to the Rescue


What is rice congee, you ask? Also known as Shi Fan (water rice), in mandarin, rice congee is a porridge that is typically eaten in the morning but can be taken throughout the day in replacement to other meals. It is especially useful to prepare for babies starting solids, the elderly, those recovering from a brief illness, delivery or surgery, and/or those with a long-term illness or weak constitution.

Rice congee also has a practical relevance for all of us. It is of particular importance for those that wish to focus on proper eating for overall health and longevity, using a Qing Dan diet. Qing refers to clear, pure, light. Dan refers to those foods which are considered more bland and have less flavor.

Examples of a Qing Dan diet include, grains, legumes (beans and bean products), vegetables and fruits. Animal protein, fats, and oil such as meat, eggs, milk and fish are kept to a minimum (e.g. if eaten, they are taken in small quantities and not eaten every day as they tend to produce “heaviness and dampness” in the body long-term, which in turn can lead to unhealthy accumulations and growths in the body if not properly cleared).  A Dan diet also uses much less spicy, flavorful and fermented foods, such as soy sauce, vinegar, salt and alcohol as these also produce heavier ‘turbid’ fluids and substance in the body which can cause or aggravate ‘dampness and heat’ conditions (e.g. skin rashes/mouth or throat irritations, nasal congestion, heat in any of the orifices, including urinary tract infections or IBS, and/or diarrhea symptoms, and more).

Interestingly, the Qing Dan diet corresponds quite well with the “Eating Right Pyramid” in the United States (e.g. a healthy diet consisting of whole grains and complex carbohydrates at the bottom of the pyramid, followed by a smaller portion of vegetables and fruits above this, then an even smaller amount of animal protein and dairy products, and finally reserving the top part of the pyramid for very small amounts of sweeets, salts, fats, and oils). The Qing Dan diet is essentially the same as the Pritikin Diet  http://www.webmd.com/diet/pritikin-principle-what-it-is  and the Macrobiotic Diet http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/macrobiotic-diet.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, rice congee is used in dietary therapy since it not only boosts energy, but is easily digested (as it is prepared in the form of soup and therefore warmed to at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Since the water to rice ratio is typically at least 6:1 in preparing congee, the rice porridge helps to moisten fluids in the digestive system’s stomach and intestines which can deplete due to old age or chronic illness. Since it is water-based, it can replenish these fluids without producing further “dampness or phlegm” accumulations in the digestive tract.

Many quotes by famous doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine and even the Buddha, have been documented attributing excellent health to the consumption of rice congee. I leave you with one as food for thought:

“[Shi Fan] confers 10 things on those who eat it: life and beauty, ease and strength. It dispels hunger, thirst, and wind. It cleanses the bladder. It digests food. This food is praised by the Well-farer.” – Shakyamuni Buddha, Makavagga. Winanaya Pitaka (Book o the Discipline) trans. by I.B. Harner, London, 1951, Vol. IV, p. 302

(Flaws, Bob. The Book of Jook: A Healthy Alternative to a Typical Western Breakfast, Blue Poppy Press, Boulder, CO, 1995)

Leapin’ Leap Frogs! It’s a Leap Year!


There’s something special about a day that only comes once every four years…

My mother’s birthday falls on March 1…so that means every four years, she has to wait one extra day to see her special day arrive. And since this year marks a special entry into a new decade for her, this means that her daughters get one extra day to plan the festivities!

And what about those special people who can officially only celebrate a February 29th birthday every four years? Now I consider them especially lucky. Who else gets to technically call themselves 24 when they are actually 96?!!  Lucky either way, I suppose if they’re living to 96 :)

If you’ve read my very first post on my blog, you will know that I’m one of those people who definintely benefits from special days which motivate me to start something new. New Year’s Day on January 1st, the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dragon on January 23rd, and the beginning of the Tibetan New Year, ‘TibetanLosar’ on February 22nd of this year, have all come and gone. Luckily, I managed to start some of my pet projects by Losar. But having this one extra day does seem to push a few other projects to the fore today. Will this be the day we each transform our bodies, our minds to conquer our daily challenges, and take our long wished- for dreams, and our new found passions and turn them into a tangible reality?