Building Health & Vitality With Traditional Chinese Medicine – Ep#034 Ellen Goldsmith M.S.O.M. L.Ac. Dip.C.H.

Chasing the latest superfood, fad diet in our pursuit of health can feel very impersonal and even dogmatic. But there’s another way to think about food when you explore a traditional “food as medicine” approach and rightfully embrace food as our natural ally in health. Today we dive into the ancient healing system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”) with a focus on two of its main components: acupuncture and nutritional healing.

This episode highlights the importance of listening to our body from a place of curiosity and cultivating our innate capacity to choose foods that support our individual health and wellbeing.

I speak with a highly regarded expert in the field of TCM, Ellen Goldsmith. For over 25 years Ellen has shared her passion for transformation through health, practicing Asian medicine and acupuncture, dietary therapy, Chinese herbs, body-mind health, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs supporting thousands of people on their path to reduced pain, stress, and regained vitality.

Ellen is co-founder of Pearl Natural Health, a naturopathic, acupuncture and Chinese medicine clinic in Portland, Oregon. She is on the faculty of the National University of Natural Medicine’s College of Classical Chinese Medicine and the Helfgott School of Graduate= studies teaching Chinese dietetics as well as the Academy for Integrative Health and Medicine.

She is the author of a must have book, Nutritional Healing with Chinese Medicine: + 175 Recipes for Optimal Health, a book to help people understand and put the nourishing wisdom of Chinese medicine into everyday lives, where it matters most; the kitchen.

To Learn More and Contact Ellen Goldsmith:

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Podcast Transcript

0 (1s):
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you are so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef, author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.

Christine Okezie (23s):
Hello and welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for tuning in today. So when it comes to the world of nutrition and health, I think we can all agree that at times it can feel quite overwhelming chasing the lazy superfood or fad diet in our pursuit of health can feel very impersonal and even dogmatic. But there’s another way to think about food when you explore a traditional food as medicine approach. So today we dive into the ancient healing system of traditional Chinese medicine with a focus on two of its main components, acupuncture, and nutritional healing dating back more than 3000 years.

Christine Okezie (1m 6s):
Chinese medicine is one of the oldest holistic healing systems that has been practiced continuously, adapting and evolving through time. It is becoming more and more common in the West and is often offered to people in hospitals, as well as in pain and integrative medicine clinics to supplement conventional medical treatment, or in some cases as a standalone treatment option to resolve a wide range of health conditions. The biggest difference between Chinese medicine and Western medicine is Western medicine looks at the mechanisms of disease examines. The parts of the body that are effected and treats the symptoms. Traditional Chinese medicine seeks to identify patterns of disharmony.

Christine Okezie (1m 50s):
It analyzes the part of the body in relationship to the whole person. So that’s why so much attention is paid to the details of an individual’s health, history, and lifestyle. Now, while the Western medicine can provide excellent care for acute health problems, traditional Chinese medicine can be very effective for many chronic lifestyle diseases. Nonetheless, it does have a long track record of resolving many acute problems as such as chronic pain, headaches and digestive problems. To understand the framework of traditional Chinese medicine. It’s useful to understand the two foundational concepts, these concepts that explain and represent the processes and substances in the body.

Christine Okezie (2m 37s):
The first one is the concept of chief. She is the vital energy, which is said to flow along channels in the body called meridians and help the body maintain health. The second concept is yin and yang. These are opposites that describe the qualities of cheese and according to traditional medicine, they’re dynamic state of balance in the body is the key to health. So treatments often focus on ways to promote and maintain the flow of cheese in the body and work by rebalancing forces known as yin and yang.

Christine Okezie (3m 19s):
For example, in acupuncture needles, puncture the skin to tap into any of the hundreds of points on the meridians, where the flow of cheese can be re redirected to restore health. Now traditional Chinese medicine puts the utmost importance of on lifestyle choices and nutrition instead of viewing meals or food as a breakdown of proteins and carbs and sugars or fats, Chinese nutritional healing utilizes the flavors and the natures of food to guide us to create a well balanced meal. You see, according to Chinese medicine, every food, every herb has a nature, has a flavor and an Oregon system or a Meridian system associated with it.

Christine Okezie (4m 10s):
And we, we work with the body to learn how to utilize this nature and flavor of foods. That’s where the true healing capacity really comes from. You see traditional Chinese medicine is grounded in the knowledge that all of nature is inherently interconnected. So health is a function of the interplay of the natural world and the human body. Thus, when it comes to nutritional theory, seasons and climate have a profound impact on our wellbeing. Chinese nutrition theory teaches us that we should learn to live and eat in balance with those changes.

Christine Okezie (4m 52s):
Now there is a depth and a breadth of learning when it comes to Chinese medicines. Absolutely fascinating. But what I want to emphasize is that even learning and incorporating some basics into your everyday life can have profound effects. The main lesson here is to observe your body and its patterns to learn what it needs to find balance. Now on today’s special show, I speak with a highly regarded expert in the field of traditional Chinese medicine. I speak with Ellen Goldsmith. Ellen Goldsmith for the last 25 years has shared her passion for transformation through health, practicing Asian medicine, acupuncture, dietary theory, Chinese herbs, and body mind health, tick techniques.

Christine Okezie (5m 42s):
She is the co-founder of Pearl Natural Health and Naturopathic Acupuncture and Chinese medicine clinic in Portland, Oregon. She’s on the faculty of the National University of Natural Medicine’s, College of Classical Chinese Medicine and Helfgott School of Graduate, where she teaches Chinese dietetics as well as for the Academy for Integrative Health and Medicine, Ellen lectures widely, and has hosted a podcast and radio show for three years in Portland, Oregon, Ellen is the author of a must have book Nutritional Healing With Chinese Medicine – Over 175 Recipes for Optimal Health.

Christine Okezie (6m 23s):
This book is an incredible resource. It’s a book to help people understand and put all the nourishing wisdom of Chinese medicine, where it matters most in the kitchen. It offers a very comprehensive review of the basic principles of Chinese dietary theory and how you can easily apply them in your daily life. You’ll discover all kinds of ways to support your health and treat common health problems by choosing beneficial foods, according to their therapeutic flavor and, and the nature for each season. So you have to get this book. It has amazing, delicious, beautiful recipes where you can begin the practice of Chinese nutritional healing right in your home.

Christine Okezie (7m 9s):
I truly hope you enjoy this episode. I hope that it helps highlight the importance of listening to your body and its needs coming from a place of curiosity and patience so that we can all cultivate and build up our innate capacity to choose foods that truly support our individual health and wellbeing and thereby embrace food as our natural partner in health. And if you liked the show, I’d be grateful. If you could please leave a rating and review. And once again, if you could hit that subscribe button, it helps me keep the podcast growing. Thank you so much and enjoy the show. Hello Ellen, thank you so much for being here on the podcast today.

Ellen Goldsmith (7m 50s):
Oh, Christine. Thanks. It’s just a pleasure to be with you today.

Christine Okezie (7m 54s):
Wonderful. So I’d love to tell you, you have such a, we were talking earlier such a comprehensive and deep background in Asian medicine, traditional Chinese medicine. I’d love to know a little bit of how, you know, how did you get on the path to it? How did it become your passion?

Ellen Goldsmith (8m 11s):
I wasn’t planning on it. You know, I was a dancer. I was in theater in a post-modern dance and theater in New York city, but I wasn’t feeling that great. And someone had recommended to me to see a macrobiotic counselor and she also practitioners to Zuko ma Yamamoto. And I didn’t go. And then five other people recommended that I go see her. So I went to see her and she gave me a shot to treatment, which completely woke me up in so many different ways. And then proceeded to tell me that I was eating too much fruit and I needed to eat more vegetables and this and that. So I felt so good.

Ellen Goldsmith (8m 52s):
I was, I thought, okay, I’m going to do this. So then I just started changing how I ate and, you know, kind of nosing around what is this thing called shiatsu. Hmm. And then I asked her if she would teach me, she said, no, she said, go here and study this. So I went to, what’s called the Kushi Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts and study macrobiotics and really got turned on to this philosophy, which is actually quite different than the classical Chinese medicine that I was trained in. But similar it’s all about getting young and balance and such. So I started studying and I really fell in love with shiatsu and I felt really good from it.

Ellen Goldsmith (9m 33s):
So I started sharing it with some friends and then more people said, Oh, you should go see Ellen. I said, yeah, but I don’t do this. And I just sharing it with you. And then more and more, it just kind of seemed to grow. And I enjoyed it. So I kept studying and studying. And I studied a lot with some apprentice with teachers and study with teachers in New York city and in Europe. And yes, some point I said, okay, I got to go get my degree in degree in classical Chinese medicine here in Portland, Oregon at the national university of natural medicine. So, Oh my you, I, it was kind of a personal journey. I wasn’t really planning on it. Let me put it that way. But yeah, it all kind of weaves together and it’s a, it’s more like a worldview as opposed to, you know, dogmatic practice.

Ellen Goldsmith (10m 23s):
So yes,

3 (10m 25s):
Yes. Thank you. Well, it really did find you actually, it sounds like right? Yeah. That’s amazing. And so to your point, that it’s a, it is a worldview it’s, it’s more than sort of this external application or this external modality, right. It really is a very comprehensive, I guess, approach to, to view life or view the universe, if you will. Right. What, what are the, what’s the philosophy behind it? Like how would you describe it to someone who’s not familiar with it?

Ellen Goldsmith (10m 56s):
Well, okay. I studied Chinese medicine and I was lucky enough to be in a place to study with people who really embrace the spirit of the medicine. And we have to remember that Chinese medicine, even though its origination is in China, it, it belongs to nature because that’s where the medicine sprung from the observation of nature back when we didn’t have, you know, heated rooms and electricity. And these Dallas masters really started to recognize that what was outside was also inside, you know, the weather like I’m in Portland, Oregon, and it’s been cold and gray.

Ellen Goldsmith (11m 37s):
Well, we can feel damp and cold and gray inside. Really. We talk about that in Chinese medicine is Daphnis this kind of lethargy can’t get moving, can’t get motivated kind of thing. Yeah. So these principles, Chinese medicine holds really belonged to nature. You know, that the universe is out there. We live in seasons, we have seasons of our lives. And when we’re healthy, we have a certain flow. We can interact with our world outside easily, you know, where we’re warm enough inside that we can sustain a winter. Whereas in summer we’re not too hot.

Ellen Goldsmith (12m 19s):
So we can, you know, kind of ventilate and enjoy the abundance and the exuberance of summer that asks us to fully participate. So that’s kind of an overview, but Chinese medicine itself has this. It’s an umbrella for Xi gong, which is a practice of, it’s not a martial art. It’s more of like a cheesy, which is the potential for energy and our body building exercise and movement. But we can also use that to help others heal. It’s herbal medicine, bodywork, which includes TuiNa or in, in, in Japan, it’s on my and many traditions have different types of bodywork.

Ellen Goldsmith (13m 3s):
That’s really similar to acupuncture. And then we have acupuncture, which is the most well-known in this, in the U S and the whole idea is that our body is kind of a electromagnetic system. And, and through the system runs energy, we call it cheesy, which is more like the potential for energy, not energy itself, but the thing that makes energy happen. So an act as an acupuncturist, and I am an acupuncturist, we will place a very small sterile needles that are about the size of a few of your hairs in different points along the body on these channels are these meridians, which are somewhat like your internal riverways or your electrical system.

Ellen Goldsmith (13m 47s):
If you think that way, I mean, let’s take a, the city because everyone deals with electricity, not everyone. Yes. Mr. Rivers. So, you know, you turn on the switch and, you know, you’re the switches on the wall, but the light is on the ceiling and the light goes on and you go, well, how did that happen? Well, there’s this activity so much like an acupuncture, we’ll use a point on the hand and that point will affect the face. Well, how can that happen? Will that channel goes up to the nose? So, so Chinese medicine has these different modalities and also food, which I have a great passion for. Yes. I wrote my book about, and so I think I’ve covered them all.

Ellen Goldsmith (14m 28s):

Christine Okezie (14m 28s):
Yes. Thank you. So it’s about balance. It’s about flow and it really looks at lifestyle, you know, movement in the body and nourishment for the body, you know, through nutrition, as you mentioned. So what specific health conditions do you work with these days?

Ellen Goldsmith (14m 47s):
Well, you know, I think people come to acupuncture mostly because they’ve about its use in the reduction or elimination of pain. It’s very beneficial for the immune system. I always tell my patients that if you don’t get real help with this issue, you know, that you’re having the side effects are pretty good. Your stress you’ll feel less stressed and your immune system will get a boost. How does that work? It works because of that intricate involvement with our, the immune system is such a multifaceted system that is affected by stress because when we’re stressed, we it’s cortisol or adrenaline gets thrown into our body, which puts our whole system on high alert, shuts down our digestive system, constricts our blood vessels, you know, stop circulation in a way so that we can flee the tiger, but there’s no tiger.

Ellen Goldsmith (15m 49s):
We’re playing in, in actuality, except now in what we’re going through with COVID and the state of our country and our world, I would say many of us are on that sense of high alert and stress. So when you have that stress, it, it reduces your immune system functioning. Mostly because your hormones are being dysregulated. Fatigue can address your immune system, et cetera. So, you know, people being unable to sleep anxiety, you submits more cortisol and adrenaline to the system. So all of these things are benefited with acupuncture, because if, if any of you listening have had acupuncture, I hope that you’ve had the experience that most of my patients have had, which is kind of Wow.

Ellen Goldsmith (16m 35s):
I feel like relaxed. Then I feel a little energized and I feel happier. Like nothing’s changed in the last 45 minutes, but I feel more hopeful or just possibility there. So, you know, on a kind of nitty gritty level, I’ve worked a lot with people with GI issues, SIBO, small intestinal, bacterial overgrowth, implant disease, people, of course, with headaches, insomnia, menstrual issues, being like dysmenorrhea, you know, where people have menstrual women have menstrual cramps or Headache, you know, hormone based headaches that people get perimenopause, you know, not that getting up at 3:00 AM thing or, you know, you get up and you go, huh.

Ellen Goldsmith (17m 26s):
Oh, wait, can I can’t go back to sleep?

Christine Okezie (17m 28s):
The witching hour. Yes.

Ellen Goldsmith (17m 29s):
Yes. You know, there where millions of women around the world with that 3:00 AM hours because of its capacity to help promote regulation in the body. Okay. It has great benefit. Thank you.

Christine Okezie (17m 43s):
Yeah. Thank you. So I’ve heard it described or, or more and more science, I guess Western science is trying to come up with the, how does this work? What are the pathways? And, and some of them talk about, you know, its effect on, you know, sort of neuro neuroanatomy neuroanatomy on the nervous system, as you talked about with regard to the regulation of the stress response, I’ve heard it talk about it. There’s some, maybe some interplay with in inflammation, and certain, you know, components in the body that abate or minimize inflammation in the body. So can you tell us a little bit about more like what’s, what are they talking about these days and how does it, how does it work?

Ellen Goldsmith (18m 28s):
You know, from a Western perspective, they talk a lot about endorphins. Yeah. Activated with the, the with acupuncture treatments. So that’s one way they look at it. And then I’m not like up to speed on all of the scientific evidence in terms of like, how does it work on receptors that mitigate inflammation. But I do know that it works that way. Research has an issue because what is scientifically proven mean

Christine Okezie (19m 8s):

Ellen Goldsmith (19m 9s):
You know, a colleague of mine, Dr. Heather , who’s a PhD immunologist who runs, who used to start at the research department at the national university of natural medicine is really created, I mean, not created, but in concert with other people really looked at how do you do research on natural medicine in a way you use scientific, you use controlled studies, et cetera. But there has to be a different way of looking at it because the medicine that we’re talking about is not quantitative. It’s qualitative, it’s systemic. You work in a systems, it’s not a mechanistic kind of way of looking at things.

Ellen Goldsmith (19m 50s):
Yes. Even we’ve seen in, in China where they pull apart, you know, aspects of an earth and just use that aspect on its own. It doesn’t work because, you know, it’s like biodiversity. I mean, there’s a synergy to everything, how things work together. That’s why acupuncture, even though people come to me and they want that cure, that fixed, right? It’s like, well, yeah, I can get your pain down, but you’re, you’re going to bed, have to do some exercise or I get your place down. But you know, if we look at what you’re eating, you know, there might be some things that’ll help get your pain down.

Ellen Goldsmith (20m 32s):
Like there are really big aggravators for pain. So I think, you know, just talking about that issue around research, when you have over 3000 years of a practice where you have benefits, benefit, that has to count for something. Oh, agreed. Agreed. So it’s a problem because, you know, I have a patient who had a traumatic brain injury and is recovering from a concussion and concussion recovery is a very long arduous process and acupuncture has been enormously helpful, but we just kind of came up against a wall. Cause they were like, well, we’re scientific evidence that we’ve got

Christine Okezie (21m 13s):
Our belief systems.

Ellen Goldsmith (21m 16s):
I feel like this helps me. When I come into her treatment room with a headache and I don’t leave it out a headache and I don’t have a headache for three days. That’s a benefit, you know? And that’s a benefit too, of the fact that she can be more productive. She can work more easily, et cetera, et cetera. So what’s that like for someone coming in, you know, I mean, we, in this culture, don’t like needles, you know, we go to the doctor, they’re big, they hurt we’re in a cold room. W we’re not, it’s not that inviting. So we have that kind of aversion to needles, but I get fucked. Your needles are really skinny. Is there like a couple of your hairs? Not even, and they’re very delicate.

Ellen Goldsmith (21m 59s):
And so the insertion of them is sometimes you don’t even feel it. Sometimes you might feel a little like warmth or achiness. Sometimes it can feel a little electric that’s that can be, but I think it goes away. That’s fine. If it’s not, that’s not good. You know, usually you go into a room, the room is nice and warm. You’re comfortable, you know, first I’ll come and I’ll take it before they get in the treatment room. I’ll do a whole intake. You know, seeing what the issues are, the problems, the main reason that you came to me for what your goals are, is really important because I’ve got to know context for working in here.

Ellen Goldsmith (22m 39s):
Yes. And then I look at the whole intake and all the questions we ask that we ask medicine and we look at the pulse and the tongue and to look at the quality of getting in young and she, and blood and stagnation and movement, et cetera. And then we deduce, we choose a S a bunch of acupuncture points. Some use, some people use a lot more needles. Some people use fewer needles. There are many styles of acupuncture. And so it becomes like a, a synergistic prescription, so to speak. And, but if you come into me next week, I may use different points because you’re different, you know?

Ellen Goldsmith (23m 22s):
So it’s very individualized. Yes. Say there’s one disease, 10,000 treatments, 10,000 cures. You know, we don’t treat everyone the same because not everyone is the same.

Christine Okezie (23m 35s):
Oh my gosh, thank you so much. You, you really kind of tied everything together between the body, mind, mental, physical, emotional approach. And then the individuality can traditional Chinese medicine, let’s say. And I guess I’m talking specifically now about acupuncture, for example, is it helpful with psycho emotional challenges like anxiety, depression, addictive, or compulsive behaviors? You know, things like mood, maybe even emotional reactivity, are these some things that you find you’re able to help your patients with?

Ellen Goldsmith (24m 12s):
Well, I try, you know, and I mean, I have a background working with people who were in very difficult situations, where there were these workshops, we started off doing like end of life issues. We’re challenged with end of life or caregivers who are working with people. But what we found was there are so many people that are living with a lot of trauma. Some of that we know about, and some of that we don’t, you know, some will know that they’ve been emotionally or sexually or physically abused.

Ellen Goldsmith (24m 54s):
Some people it’s more subtle, but it’s insidious as well. So I find that, you know, as people with compulsive behaviors, you know, I have to look at what’s behind that. Now I’m not a therapist, so I don’t go deeply into that, but I know how to work and connect the sematic experience of trauma that comes out and behaviors beautiful. It’s, it’s important to honor that and address that. And if we can’t treat that, then have resources to help people. I think at this, you know, I mean, it’s really coming out that, you know, like one in four women have been sexually abused.

Ellen Goldsmith (25m 36s):
One in five men have been sexually abused, then you have this whole drama of COVID. Mm. I really think, you know, and the children and the people who’ve been thrown into poverty. And so I really, I think that when this is a baited, you’re going to have a lot of people with serious mental health issues who really need help, you know? And I think for sure, by helping to regulate the nervous system, which is what acupuncture is really helpful with yes. And give energetic support to people. And there’s nothing wrong with energetic support and a time when you have a lot to handle and a lot to go through.

Ellen Goldsmith (26m 23s):
So yes, no, I think this is a really important thing to remember and to acknowledge, you know, cases of depression have gone up 800% in this country, anxiety cases, 480%. This is just not even in a year. Right. Right. So, you know, there’s a, that we may not be able to solve for people, but as a healthcare provider and practitioner, and just the resources and skills that I have, I can offer some energetic support, which is extraordinarily important. I want people to just know that, you know, okay.

Ellen Goldsmith (27m 7s):
And solve your problem, but help you get a break and give your nervous system a break, I think is really, really important. So when it comes to compulsive behaviors and addictions, I think as an acupuncturist, I can work in concert with a therapist. Yes. Work in concert with a nutritionist. Yeah. And, you know, as a collaborative team, as opposed to a team of siloed practitioners, each telling a person to do so many things, they don’t want to do any overwhelm.

3 (27m 36s):
Exactly. I always

Ellen Goldsmith (27m 38s):
Said, you know, people walk into our clinics and our, our treatment rooms already overwhelmed. Otherwise they wouldn’t come to us. Yes. It’s our job to give them a new ground to stand on and the ground it’s their own body and their own sense of self. And, you know, because there has to be feeling, I can do this if, if the thing is that I, you know, sometimes I’ll just get my people. Like, I like just practice, like breathing a certain way. And I said, don’t like, do it in a big, heavy situation. You don’t do it when you’re washing the dishes. Or, you know, when you sit down to your computer before you start or just, you know, give yourself reminders, but don’t do it, like when you’re having a fight with your spouse or your kids, or you’re frustrated with somebody.

Christine Okezie (28m 29s):
Yes, yes, yes.

Ellen Goldsmith (28m 31s):
Just a little baby steps. I mean, if you have kids out there and you’re listening, you know, like your kid, when they stand up, you’re like, Whoa, look what they, Oh, come on. I’m going to help you get up again. You want to try that again? That’s kind of how we have to be when we’re struggling. You know, I love the steps because you know that our children who, you know, get up and fall down, eventually learn to walk and then they in virtually and to run and then they do all kinds of other fancy. Yeah.

Christine Okezie (28m 59s):
Yes, yes, yes. I love that. Thank you. No, you know, because your approach is, is really resonating with me because it gives the agency back, you know, to ourselves and reinforces the belief that we can actually have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. And these days that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s is that’s powerful medicine in and of itself. So thank you for that. Thank you. Yeah. So I’d love to talk about now all your expertise on food and Chinese dietary theory. So I’m getting the sense that a patient walks in, you know, and you do it this very comprehensive assessment, but they may walk out, as you said, with some, I want to say homework, but some tools that they might want to try.

Christine Okezie (29m 43s):
So where does food work into that prescription for health, for you?

Ellen Goldsmith (29m 50s):
Yeah. Glorious food, right. The Chinese proverb to, to the people. Food has happened, you know, but not as funny, sometimes food is hell for people too.

Christine Okezie (30m 2s):
It can be a little, you know, complicated for people.

Ellen Goldsmith (30m 5s):
Yes, absolutely. And, and, you know, I always tell when I’m working with my patients with food and I, don’t not all of them want to, so I don’t, even though I always make a recommend, I always make recommendations. You know, food is the hardest thing to change our eating habits, but when we change them and we feel better, we go, Whoa, that was easy.

Christine Okezie (30m 32s):
Nice to feel good. I feel good.

Ellen Goldsmith (30m 34s):
It’s nice to have agency that, you know, I know if I eat this way, I feel better if I eat that way, I don’t. So, you know, how can we help you to reinforce those choices that, you know, I like feeling better and like, I don’t want to feel bad. And it’s, you know, I’m not depriving myself of something of Cheetos or Doritos, you know, I’m actually choosing to feel good, you know, which is like a really big deal. But you know, food is, I’d say probably the strongest medicine that all of us take part in every single day. I always tell my Chinese medicine students, you know, people will come to you for time for acupuncture.

Ellen Goldsmith (31m 15s):
They’ll come to a time for herbal medicine, but then they’ll stop, but they’ll always eat. That’s right. We’re actually, you know, taking medicine three or four times a day, you know, with the food, we eat food, we eat builds. Our blood chemistry makes us who we are. You know, the saying you are what you eat. Well, I would say you are what you digest. Right? Because some people eat good food, but they can’t digest it. Absolutely. We’re like eating a lot of raw food and they’re cold and there’s, there’s, they’re having some digestive issues.

Ellen Goldsmith (32m 1s):
It’s because Chinese medicine perspective cold is an extreme, you know, when you’ve run out of the fridge, it’s cold and your body goes, Whoa, this is cold. I can’t do anything with it. So I have to use my vital energy, my digestive fire, as we say, in Chinese medicine to eat it up, to break down. So I’m using a lot of like energy that is, it could have been, you know, if I had had something, either room temperature, or even ever so slightly, even lightly steamed or lightly boiled or et cetera, or just reheated from yesterday, you, my body wouldn’t have to use that energy to break it, heat it up and break it down.

Ellen Goldsmith (32m 44s):
It could just use that energy to break it down, which is what it does in the stomach. And then start the digestive process as it moves through the small intestine and large intestine. And then the body would be able to absorb it because it has the vitality. You know, we say the spleen cheat to, you know, to absorb and to transform and absorb that food into nourishment for ourselves.

Christine Okezie (33m 7s):
Thank you. So you mentioned spleen, qi and others, spleen qi and liver qi. And in traditional and natural healing and medicine, it’s all about digestion. It’s all about, you know, kind of the ability for us to, to absorb and assimilate and how much energy it takes to do these processes. Right. You mentioned earlier dampness and, you know, I know that’s kind of a condition that you talk about with regard to certain symptoms in the body. Can you give us an idea of how it maps out? Like, you know, when should we be eating cooling foods? When should we be eating warming foods?

Ellen Goldsmith (33m 46s):
In terms of cooling and warming foods? I mean, the best way we can look at it is look at the climate we’re in and what’s going on outside. Okay. Is it cold out? Well, then we don’t really want to eat a lot of cold foods. Right. Because we want to balance our internal environment so we can, we can be in that cooler, colder environment. Right. So, yes, even though you don’t have to eat, I’m not telling you to eat spicy foods because spicy foods, that’s a whole other story of which can be slightly aggravating a little bit, so, okay. But, okay. That’s why cooking styles are important. I mean, you can take, huh, cooling food, like a cucumber.

Ellen Goldsmith (34m 26s):
You can saute it, you know, with a little bit of red pepper even, and that would kind of make it more neutral and not as cooling and also by having it slightly cooked, it breaks down. So you’re able to digest it more easily. You see? Yeah. So if you’re a person that runs hot, you may love spicy foods. You may love boiled foods, right? Have more vegetables, you know, incorporate, cut those spicy foods down that have herbs like cumin and coriander and basil and time and Rosemary and March or all those which are warming also help to activate digestion, which are different than a hot thing, a hops by flight galangal or chili pepper or habanero or ghost pepper, which can be very irritating and promote.

Ellen Goldsmith (35m 24s):
A lot of heat. Shrimp is a very warming shellfish. And, and, you know, that could be like, if you’re run hot, I would just eat fish instead of, you know, shrimp interesting. A lot of meat, which is warming. You might want to cut back on the meat and eat, you know, so maybe haven’t had a night of beans or tofu or fish or, or just a vegetable dinner, you know, so that you’re eating less meat, which of course is good for you and good for the environment, et cetera. So, okay. You know, there are different ways that we can work with it cause we’re not looking to like cool down, we’re looking so that we’re kind of functioning at the, the kind of the center of what I call the Seesaw, you know, the full, where we kind of find our balance between warming and cooling and neutral.

Ellen Goldsmith (36m 15s):
And then we can have a little hot, if we’re cold, we can have a little cold and I don’t mean ice cream, but I’ll tell you what I mean by cold in a minute. Okay. If we run too hot, you know, and people who run too hot perspire easily, okay. Get angry and irritated easily have a kind of, you know, ready red complexion, just, you know, can’t calm down. Okay. So that kind of heat, you know, can be mitigated through a stronger kind of bitter flavored food like escarole or romaine lettuce, even, you know, just, or cardoons or yellow, grapefruit or green it’s bitter and a little bit cooling.

Ellen Goldsmith (37m 5s):
So, you know, there are lots of ways to work with food because you don’t want to create like hot, cold, cause that’s a lot of energy again like that. And I was talking about the raw cold food. You know, you don’t want to do this back and forth thing. You want to kind of get yourself towards the center so that your, your balancing act is very subtle and very easy on your system.

Christine Okezie (37m 26s):
Okay. And, and so I always like to say, when, when digestion is quiet, then that’s kind of what you’re talking about. That’s the center point, right? So just, I guess noticing how much ease we have in our mood. You mentioned our mood and the sensory experience in our bodies. Like you said, if we run hot, I guess, like you said, if we’re, if we’re quick tempered, you know, just to notice again, that’s how our energy is running and how can we find more balance in, in, in the, on our, with the foods that we choose, right.

Ellen Goldsmith (37m 59s):
From a Chinese medicine perspective for this question about spleen GI and liver GI liver, cheek constraint, or liver, chief stagnation, because the liver in Chinese medicine is responsible and there’s a kind of parallel as well in Western physiology. It’s responsible for the harmonious flow of Chi and movement in the body, but it’s also like the liver, you know, delivers the glycogen, delivers the energy for the muscles, et cetera. So in liver, she is constrained from too much stress, too much overwork, too much, must too much tension in the body.

Ellen Goldsmith (38m 40s):
Clobbers the spleen and it can interrupt our digestive kind of okay. You know, so that’s spleen sheet efficiency that you asked about can come from a number of different. It can arrive at a number of different ways. Okay. A lot of raw and cold food. It can deplete our spleen sheet. If we are sitting on our butts all day, which many of us are a lot that can deplete our spleen cheat because all that blood has to go to the brain and the head and all of that. So, you know, we’re not dropping into our, our solar plexus, et cetera, but that’s, that’s also like, you know, the Vegas nervous is very large nerve that runs through the center of the body and it’s connected to our brain connected to our digestion.

Ellen Goldsmith (39m 28s):
And so when we’re stressed, you know, we get those butterflies in our stomach from too much cortisol, too much adrenaline. And yeah, we’re just kind of an overdrive so that too can deplete our spleen cheat. Like I know when I’m super stressed, I don’t eat. I’m like, you know, some people, some people eat right. And so that’s right. So that spleen sheet efficiency can be, you know, a sense of like our digestion is not working right or retire or yes. And that’s bleeding qi deficiency can lead to dampness, which means we’re not able to break everything down. We’re not able to transform it and absorb it.

Ellen Goldsmith (40m 8s):
So then we kind of get belching or bloating or, huh, which, you know, on a Western physiological can be like dysbiosis of the small intestine. It can be too little stomach acid where you’re getting a reflux or even a silent kind of reflux where you’re not having that burning, but you’re having like spasms in the esophagus or something. So it can show up in many different ways. And I think the beauty of Chinese medicine is we don’t have to name the disease. We just have to see what the syndrome and the pattern is. And then we’d see, we seek out the disharmony and then we seek to restore harmony.

3 (40m 51s):
Oh, I love that. Thank you. Thank you. What is a good staple recipe that let’s say you, it’s easy to make. It’s something that’s really beneficial from, you know, incorporating these healing foods. Is there something that you recommend on a regular basis?

Ellen Goldsmith (41m 13s):

Christine Okezie (41m 13s):
Yeah. Is there anything specific, like, is there a porridge or,

Ellen Goldsmith (41m 18s):
Well, you know, soup, there’s so many and for all of you out there, you all have like different cultures who come from different traditions. Every tradition has a, a broth soup that you can then add to, you know, agents, these beautiful like dashi or the Vietnamese, you know, kind of fo or, you know, miso soups, or, you know, I come from Eastern European and Russian Jewish traditions. And you have like these Borsch and my grandma used to make like a cabbage soup, but soup is kind of like, it’s not intravenous therapy because you’re eating it, but it’s just, you don’t have to work so hard.

Ellen Goldsmith (42m 5s):
Your digestive, it doesn’t have to work hard. You just absorb the nourishment. Yes. So long cooked soups, especially in winter or a beautiful thing. You know, people are really into bone broths, you know, long cooked chicken soup, long cooked beef bone, or lamb bone soup, or even like fish bone soup, or, you know, something. And then you add vegetables to it and you add beans or you add some fish or noodles, whatever you are, an egg, you know, I just think it’s great to make a whole bunch of soup, you know, freeze it up and then you have it and you can just eat it whenever you want.

Ellen Goldsmith (42m 45s):
And you can add in leftovers to it. You know, like I cooked some white beans the other day, some leftovers, and then I thought, Oh, I’m going to have a soup. So I put some Sage and some Rosemary and some carrots and I already had onions in it. And then I put some chard and I had this beautiful nourishing soup and it took me like 20 minutes.

Christine Okezie (43m 9s):
Yeah, exactly. Right. So nourishing and we intuitively we know these things, right. Intuitively we, you know, it’s like right here, you know, on the East coast, it’s kind of a, a cool, you know, not so sunny day. And there is a dampness in, you know, a chill in the air. And, and what I love about, you know, when we work with food as medicine, is that it calls upon our intuition, you know, to know, you know, what to eat. And I think that’s a skill that unfortunately we need to work a little harder at these days because of modern day living, but it really does speak to how, you know, how do you feel?

3 (43m 50s):
And, you know, what, w what makes me feel balanced or what may, what throws me out of balance. Okay.

Ellen Goldsmith (43m 55s):
I just wanted to acknowledge too, that, you know, there are a lot of people that maybe some of your listeners that aren’t like, you haven’t tried certain things, and you don’t know what’s out there. Like you don’t know what bok choy is, or you’ve never had Jerusalem artichoke or, or a winter squash. That’s kind of bumpy and squash or something, and yeah. You know, wherever you live. And when you’re going into a store where there are vegetables, which I hope of the stores, you’d go into have a lot of vegetables. And depending, I mean, I’m in Portland, which is like food heaven here, but, you know, she’s like, try something new and then look it up on the internet.

Ellen Goldsmith (44m 37s):
There’s so many resources for different recipes, et cetera. I mean, I have, in my book, I have 175 recipes that by season and every season has the same categories. So you have breakfast dishes, soups, main dishes of vegetables and sides, snacks, teas, and tonic beverages, and desserts. And all of them are gluten-free, but there’s food in there for everybody. There’s for vegans, for vegetarians, for meat eaters, lovely, no real dairy. Except if you wanted to add like a little scoop of sheep yogurt to fit on a couple of things, but I wanted to do is give people a sense of like, wow, how can I balance myself eating within a season?

Ellen Goldsmith (45m 27s):
You know? So we have a lot of dishes that look very much the same, but have a variation on a theme through each season. So like congee, which is a very typical Asian breakfast, it’s kind of like a rice soup or porridge, you know, where you take on a cup of a rice, or you can use milit or anything. And I put 12 cups of water, cook it for about, Oh, a couple of hours. And then it’s just this very delightful, easy to digest porridge that you can add things to, you can heat it up with some broth, or you can add as a fish, or you can add in cooked vegetables, or you can put funny and butter or honey and meat on it.

Ellen Goldsmith (46m 17s):
And wow. So there are lots of variations, you know, you can cook it with different kinds of nuts and, and all of these kinds of things. So, you know, for those of you who are like tired of cooking,

Christine Okezie (46m 30s):
It’s a lot of cooking going on these days.

Ellen Goldsmith (46m 33s):
It’s the one thing that’s correct. I agree. You know, and you know, you have a family and you’re working, it’s nice to have things that you’ve created that you can make in bulk, that you can then reheat up that aren’t sad looking, you know what I’m saying? Like if added some fresh vegetables or you can squeeze a little ginger juice in it or add some fresh parsley or Bazell whatever kind of soup you’re making. So, you know, it can be fun.

Christine Okezie (47m 3s):
Yeah, no, it is. It’s again, you get your hand. I always say, you know, you get your hands in the food. There’s something very therapeutic about that. And from making very simple, just nourishing meals, you know, the process itself is very healing. I find. Yeah. Thank you. I would love to know, you know, what are your favorite immune boosting strategies now, again, from a Chinese medicine perspective

Ellen Goldsmith (47m 28s):
Breathing. Yes, really, really, you know, just by taking a nice deep breath in and bringing that all the way down to what we call in Chinese medicine, your lower don tien that area, right in your belly, like around your navel and below your navel. And just really letting that breath out nice and slowly just letting the body soften. So just getting grounded in your body is I think really, really important. It’s, you know, our postnatal cheek, which is where we get our vitality afterward board is through our breath. And a lot of, for those of you who’ve had COVID I know this it’s hard, but deep breathing exercises are key to getting, getting your health back and getting circulation, et cetera.

Ellen Goldsmith (48m 15s):
Moving is really important because when we move, we move our qi through our system, we nourish our bodies, we release some of that stress. So whether it’s walking 20 minutes, whether you have a cheek gung or a Tai Chi practice or a yoga practice or nothing that helps your body to just move and balance out is key. Yes. Thank you. Eating good food, you know, and sleep is key. So, you know, if you’re having trouble with sleep and you wonder why you’re tired, I can tell you it’s because you’re not getting enough sleep, like, especially like perimenopausal women who get up between three and five, you know, for an hour or two a night.

Ellen Goldsmith (48m 59s):
So if you do that every night, seven times one let’s say, or for one hour, that means you’ve lost one night’s sleep in a week. Yeah, absolutely. Yes. Same thing. Yes. Getting help with sleep is really, really important. Again, you know, it’s like just putting it in a modern context, you know, cutting off the screens, maybe having some herbal tea, putting your hot water or taking a bath before bed, just to warm up your body. Okay. Okay. I love that. And that’s it, it’s really simple. It’s very complex and deep, but right. It’s really based on very simple lifestyle habits and yes, you know, let’s not underestimate them, you know, the fancy new green powder that you see on the internet.

Ellen Goldsmith (49m 53s):
It’ll be good. But if you put that on top of a whole bunch of other stuff that you’re not doing, like you’re not working on your relaxation and managing stress and you’re not exercising and you’re eating kind of not really great food and drinking, lots of coffee, you know, you’ll have wasted your money. So I say, save your money. Yes, yes. Deep breath it right now. And just let it out. You know, this, feel your body, feel your shoulders just kind of dropped down a half an inch and barely move, feel your feet on the ground and just get reconnected to your own energy.

Christine Okezie (50m 31s):
Isn’t that true? Right. Just actually start to, you know, be curious about feeling your own energy, right. And the body. I love that. Thank you. What are you most curious about now in when it comes to the work that you do and in wellness, I guess, you know, is there any particular area that’s really grabbed your attention?

Ellen Goldsmith (50m 52s):
I’m really thinking about how to work with people and trauma more. I have done that, but I really, I, I think about my colleagues who are working on the front lines, you know, think about, you know, heal healing, the healer love that. And that’s, and how, you know, and working with my medicine, but also the other tools I have from meditation to the work that I’ve done with kind of more bioenergetic based work. You know, the body really holds, holds our energy and holds a lot of stress.

Ellen Goldsmith (51m 34s):
There’s things that sometimes we just can’t let go because we can’t because it wasn’t safe. And, but it’s still in there. And that trauma is still in there. I’m really interested, I think from my, in my Chinese medicine practice about that. But I’m also interested in always bringing, you know, the power of food as medicine and, and making it accessible and, and really using Chinese medicine as a way to cross culture and honor culture. You know, I think unify the practice, Chinese medicine, and we, I honor my lineage teachers, et cetera, but, you know, again, it belongs to nature.

Ellen Goldsmith (52m 21s):
So all of us belong to nature because we’re alive, you know, and we all have these cultural traditions that go way, way, way, way, way, way back, and to honor those as well and to learn about them, I think is in, you know, what did your great, great, great grandmother, you know, what was in, what was in the food there, because the food makes us again, who we are in many respects, so,

Christine Okezie (52m 48s):
Oh yes. Thank you. Absolutely. I love that. And are you doing telehealth? Yeah.

Ellen Goldsmith (52m 54s):
I do. I work with people. I get referrals from physicians and work with people around food. I’m really loved doing that with your kitchen, wonderful there, and, you know, we can do so many creative things around food just to really make you feel better about yourself and about what you’re eating and bring up your vitality. And, you know, I’ve worked with everyone from, like I said, cancer, GI, stress, et cetera. Yeah. I love to do that. Yeah. Thank you.

Christine Okezie (53m 26s):
Do you have anything else that maybe I didn’t know enough to ask that you want to share today?

Ellen Goldsmith (53m 31s):
No, I just, you know, if you want, I think if, if I may, I, I could just say, you know, I have this book, Nutritional Healing With Chinese Medicine With 175 Seasonal Recipes for Optimal Health. I love to talk to people so you can always reach me. My email is elleng@pearlnatural And my website is pearlnatural And what else? I’m on Facebook @nutritional healing and Instagram at Goldsmith, Ellen. And, you know, just any way that I can be of service. I’m happy to do that.

Christine Okezie (54m 10s):
And you have the depth of expertise to be on that healing journey with people. So thank you so much. Thank you.

Ellen Goldsmith (54m 16s):
Okay. Thanks for having me. Bye. Bye. Bye.

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