26 October 2016
Rice porridge does a lot of good for one's system and can be a remedy for many things, say health experts. Photo: Xinhua
Rice porridge does a lot of good for one's system and can be a remedy for many things, say health experts. Photo: Xinhua

What to do for a long and healthy life

Many of my middle- and old-age patients come to me for herbal remedies or diets for improving their body constitution and condition, apart from seeking therapeutic consultations.

Whenever the idea of taking replenishment is brought up, people would immediately link it to ways for tonifying the kidneys.

Since Hongkongers are well-known for their hectic life with disturbingly irregular time for meals, it is the spleen that is the more vulnerable organ than the kidney.

In the view of traditional Chinese medicine, the spleen plays a key role in transforming food into essence used for the transformation of qi (vital energy) and blood for nourishment of the whole body.

The spleen together with the stomach contributes to a healthy digestion system. Eating rice porridge is recommended for keeping them in good shape.

Zhang Zhongjing (張仲景), the great physician of Chinese medicine from the Han Dynasty, advised patients to eat rice porridge to strengthen their stomach for better absorption of herbal remedies for combating illness.

Wang Mengying, physician from the Qing Dynasty, dubbed rice porridge as the first and foremost tonic food.

Rice porridge, combined with different ingredients, can become a remedy for many things.

To reinforce heart functions, try dried longan. Add in goji berry for a stronger liver. Chinese yam yields a healthy spleen. For soother lungs, lily bulbs are good. And walnuts are great for kidneys.

Fleeceflower root (首烏) would promote hair growth and lotus leaves help in losing weight.

Chinese celery is known for fighting against high blood pressure, while astragalus root (黃芪) is advised for addressing low blood pressure.

Congee with red rice bean would be best for summertime while the warm and hot energy from mutton congee can help one fight the coldness of winter.

Meanwhile, maintaining an equable temperament is crucial for a long and healthy life, as anxious or excessive thinking would overwhelm the person, hurting the condition and functions of the spleen.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 25.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Registered traditional Chinese medicine practitioner

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