Tai chi y2d26: heat up

Off and on, I’ve been reading about the medicine of Avicenna, who was a Muslim trained n the Greek way of doctoring in the 8th century AD. His canon of Medicine became a standard text for physicians until the late 1900s. One of his bugaboos is digestion — basically, you want to eat hot, relatively spicy foods, because you want them in, and then out. Black bile is the ash of digestion, and leaving it in the body leads to trouble. According to Avicenna’s system of medicine.

Why talk about this in a post about tai chi? Well,because I’m not digesting well these days, and I’d gone to Avicenna to see if I could figure out why. I don’t have a good answer yet, of course. But a doctor whose views were widely and highly regarded for centuries argued that it’s because I’ve eaten too much cool food and not enough hot food, and my digestive oven— stomach intestines and liver, primarily — have cooled off.

I don’t know that this is the case. Yet when I started this chi experiment a year ago, it was easy to workout hard enough to generate sweat. Now it’s not so easy: my body’s energetic pathways —as ridiculous as that sounds — are open more widely than a year ago. And as a result, I’m thinking I need to change eating patterns to match. I’m getting signals, for example, that I need more tea and less coffee and that’s weird for me; and I need more vegetables and fewer fruits and fewer lettuce greens. This will be an adjustment.

Tai chi itself went fine this morning, and I was able to pick up my excitation practice again after a few days away from it. And, I had a geomantic consultation with an old friend over the weekend, feels like digestion isn’t the only thing that’s going to shift soon.

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  1. I cannot speak to Avicenna, but I can tell you that everything you have written is congruent with Chinese Medicine’s advice. Should you choose to walk that path, you might consider limiting or avoiding all things cold in temperature (vs cold in energy, which should also be limited) especially all things iced, most especially ice cream. One difference between Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine is that Chinese Medicine sees dairy as cold, damp and pathogenic, therefore advises avoidance.

    Then add in warm (not hot) digestives such as ginger which is a huge digestive panacea, and a lot of other culinary spices (in moderation) such as those found in Chai teas . You might look for and consider taking a product called Stomach Chi (by OHCO.com) which should be available at Whole Foods if you have one near and might be carried or could be ordered by most other “health food” type outlets.

    BTW a cool (not cold) Liver is good from a Chinese Medicine perspective. Heat in the Liver usually indicates stagnation of Qi—never good! Hot foods and excess of alcohol, drugs etc, irritate and overwork the Liver, leading to heat and stagnation in the Liver, leading to heat… a vicious cycle. Smooth flowing Qi and a cool Liver are beneficial to the entire body and function of the body and all its organs.

    • hi Christina,

      I’m not yet reading Avicenna too deeply on diet, but it sounds like Chinese medicine and Avicenna had much in common. Tonight I had a roast chicken dinner prepared with high concentrations of garlic, ginger and thyme — all warming spices in Avicenna’s system — and began experiencing the gastro-intestinal changes that are supposed to happen when shifting over from a mostly-cool diet to a mostly warm diet, i.e., farting, sudden changes in weight shifts inside the intestines, frequent urination, sweating, etc.

      Avicenna doesn’t rule out cow’s milk and cheese, but they’re all cool to cold, except goat’s milk which is warm for some reason.

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