Traditional Chinese Medicine, steeped in 5,000-plus years of wisdom, is brimming with herbal remedies, food cures, acupuncture, and meditative exercises such as tai chi. In keeping with its strong reliance on food, Chinese medicine uses many fasts to enhance health, lift moods, cleanse the body, build strength, eliminate acid and mucus, and take the burden off of certain organs. Here are the final three of five fasts that can do wonders for your natural health.
3. The Cooked Grain Fast
Whole grains are a huge part of the Asian diet. Anyone with cold or deficient symptoms will benefit from a whole grain fast, as will those who want to sharpen their concentration and memory. It must last at least three days, and you must chew food very thoroughly. Whole grain rice and other grains, such as millet, barley, and whole wheat, are common staples. If you’re out to detox, millet is your best bet. Drink some warming herbal teas if you have “cold” symptoms (here “cold” refers to a specific aspect of symptoms in Chinese medicine, not the common cold). For bread, ensure it is unrefined and contains actual grain (you should be able to see them).
Yogis (yoga masters) have sung the praises of a fast of mung bean and rice for ages — it balances the body and mind. Mung beans are legumes, but they belong here as well because they are strong detoxifiers. Add ingredients such as ginger, cumin, and fennel to the beans when cooking if you wish.
4. The Steamed Veggie Fast
Sounds simple enough. You can carry this one for a while. You need a big pot, a steaming basket (available at any Asian store and most kitchenware stores), and a whack of vegetables. This one is best if you have eaten poorly of late, with too many sweets, eggs, dairy, and meat, or simply too much food. If you have cool or deficient symptoms, this one works well also. Steam up to three vegetables at one time, and drink water or tea when thirsty. Steaming shouldn’t take much longer than 10 minutes; the vegetable is ready when it is soft but not wilted.
5. Your Fast of Life
You may not like the sound of this one, but it can be an enriching experience. You do not eat or drink anything for about 36 hours. You are sustained by one thing whose healing power the Chinese believe in strongly: oxygen. Air, in other words. It gives the body ample time and no distractions so that it can achieve balance again. This is not appropriate for anyone who has weakness, chronic illness, or who is thin. It is best for those who are overweight or obese, who are sluggish, and feeling “weighed down.” Consult with your doctor if you’re considering this fast.
These oxygen-charged fasts have been performed throughout history, by anywhere from four to 40 days, although it was highly spiritually evolved individuals doing so for so long. For the likes of us, a clean and free fast in the true sense of the world can very healthful. Get lots of rest, certainly. It’s best to start in the early evening, and finish up in the morning of the second day.