Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Yin Yang: Sick or Discharging?


A bad flu

I had a bad bout of flu just last week (9 Feb, 2019). I slept from Sunday night till Tuesday afternoon and several times woke up soaked in sweat. I also had my usual runny nose. It happens whenever I get the flu.

But I was not “sick”. Macrobiotic people don’t fall sick. We merely have what we call “discharges” – things coming out from the body.

For me, my most usual discharge is a runny nose – discharging mucus. Some other people might have a cough and discharge phlegm. Or a fever, discharging heat.

This may seem like I am playing on words, describing myself as “having a discharge” rather than admitting that I had fallen sick.

Not worried

The difference is this: When I know I am having a discharge, I am not worried. I don’t feel any need to consult a doctor who would simply prescribe some medicine to stop the runny nose, fever or whatever other form of discharge.

Also, I don’t blame my “discharge” on bacteria or viruses. So I don’t reach out for antibiotics to kill them. Incidentally, it is worth mentioning here that antibiotics will not kill viruses. They are only effective against (some forms of) bacteria.

Back to the discharges . . .

From the yin / yang perspective, discharges are a yin / expanding condition. Discharges are things coming out of the body – expanding outwards.

Normal discharges would include bowel movement, urination, perspiration in hot weather and, for women, menstruation.

Abnormal discharges – commonly regarded as “sickness” – would include runny nose, cough, vomiting, pimples and boils, skin rash, burping, flatulence and so on. They would also include excessive amounts of “normal” discharge, such as diarrhea and excessive urination, perspiration and menstruation.

Anything coming out of the body in an abnormal way is considered abnormal discharge.

This could happen when you are tired. When you are tired, you become yin / expanded – your body becomes soft and loose.

It could happen if you have taken some spoiled food. The normal explanation is that such food contains bacteria. The yin / yang viewpoint is that spoiled or rotten food is food that is breaking apart – food that has strong yin / expanding energy.

It could also happen if your condition is already tending towards yin / expansion so that the slightest trigger would bring about a discharge.

If you understand what is going on, then there is no need to be alarmed, really. You will know how to restore yourself back to balance – by resting and by taking appropriate foods.

Functioning well

Rather than be alarmed, the fact that you are able to discharge actually means that your body is in good working condition.

Consider. . . If you eating something that is not suitable and your body reacts by either vomiting or discharging it through diarrhea, are you sick? On the contrary, it means that your body is functioning well.

If you don’t discharge, that is a greater cause for concern.

Some years back, there was a case in Singapore where a baby was mistakenly given medicated oil – the type which the Chinese use to rub over aches and pains. The baby died.

When I read about this case in the newspapers, my immediate reaction was: Why didn’t the baby vomit?

Babies normally vomit very easily and that would have saved their lives. For some reason, this baby did not vomit. It simply took in the medicated oil, and died.

Of course, discharges can sometimes be uncomfortable. I know because I grew up with a perpetually runny nose. It feels awful.

The medical solution is to take some drugs to stop the discharge. It used to be that whenever I had a flu and runny nose, I would take some drugs and then end up with a blocked nose. From being runny, the mucus turns too thick. The feeling is just as dreadful.

The macrobiotic solution is to take foods that restore the balance. Since discharges are a yin / expanded condition, some yang / contracted foods would help.

Sour plum

One medicinal food that is very useful for controlling “discharges” is umeboshi, a pickled sour “plum”.

This is actually a type of apricot which falls from the tree while the fruit is still hard and not ripened. So it is a more yang / contracted fruit. It is pickled in sea salt and a herbal leaf called shiso. The salt makes it even more yang / contracted.

Umeboshi therefore has very strong contracting energy. If you have a runny nose, or if you are not able to control your urine, just pop an umeboshi into your mouth. Chances are, you will be restored to balance, at least temporarily, in less than 15 minutes.

Umeboshi is also very effective for all types of digestive problems – nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, indigestion, gas, diarrhea.

And, it helps the body to destroy bacteria and viruses – because these thrive in a yin / expanded environment. By making your body more yang, or rather, more balanced, bacteria and viruses will not bother you.

May Ling
Macrobiotics & natural health practitioner of Chinese decent. May Ling provides a Yin-Yang perspective to holistic health and natural healing. Contact:

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