Oranges, lemons, limes, kumkats and vinegar….

If you haven’t already started salivating, you will soon.  Each of the 5 Flavors (sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and salty) all have medicinal properties and correspond to a specific season and organ system. These are the food’s energetics. Does the food heat or cool the system -thermodynamics. Does it move the energy up, down, out or in? Which organ systems does it particularly enter and what patterns does it treat or should be avoided in treatment for specific disharmonies?  Learning how to use each flavor can work wonders for your body and health. In this blog we will focus on the wonders of sour!

Sour activates the blood and moves stagnation.

Want proof?  Next time you feel a bit miffed, frustrated or suddenly want to rage, drink 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  The hot rush you will feel is Liver Qi stagnation breaking up and pushing through.  This trick is fine for an occasional kick, especially in the Spring, however it’s a band-aid, it doesn’t solve why you are getting stuck. Are you addicted to thoughts and beliefs that perpetuate frustration and anger? Are you not moving your body enough? Are you eating foods that keep your Qi from flowing freely?  You may need to delve further as to why you have stagnation, but sour can definitely help.

The functions of sour

Sour astringes and absorbs, drying up “loose, leaking and sagging” conditions.

Ummm, yum?  Doesn’t sound fun, right?  The truth is sour foods are fabulous at helping to clear up problems that involve the incorrect loss of body fluids.  These include: excess sweating, diarrhea, sinus discharge (allergies), excess vaginal secretions and heavy menstrual flow and hemorrhaging. Sagging conditions also include prolapsing of organs. Time to tighten things up a bit.

Sour flavor enters the Liver and Gallbladder and aids digestion

Sour foods help to stimulate the flow of secretions like bile and digestive enzymes.  It increases digestion and helps move fats out of the system, so make sure you have sour foods in your diet if you high cholesterol.  It also helps promote the secretion of hormones.  Think of it as a blood activator and stagnation eliminator helping to clean and detoxify your system.  If you are prone to Liver and Gall Bladder patterns the sour flavor should be a part of your diet unless you are excessively tight and wiry.  An easy way to get both the sour flavor and improve your digestion is to include fermented foods that will have live enzymes and flora, fiber and the flavor of the individual food.  Adding in a little kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and the like will go a long way to improving your digestion!.

Sour acts on the ligaments and tendons

Adequate sour is needed to tighten up overly loose ligaments and tendons.  However, in excess it will tighten up the muscles and tendons, harden the flesh and creates wrinkles and dry the lips – liken it to a rubber band.  Too little sour and the band is slack and too loose, too much sour and the band over tightens and dries out – snap.

Sour correlates to the Spring season

Here we are in the Spring; the season of sour and wind and the Gall Bladder and Liver.  It’s a great time to use a little sour to wake up the liver, move heavy toxins out of the system and cleanse.  Watch out for wind, which the liver ‘loathes’ wind attacks the neck, head and joints and creates allergies, colds, flus, ticks and palsy.  Time to pull out the spring scarves.  Read more about Spring foods.

Some Sour foods

  • aduki beans
  • apples–green especially
  • apricots
  • blackberry
  • bok choy
  • cherry
  • crab apples–yes, they are edible
  • cranberry
  • fermented foods
  • grapefruit
  • gooseberry
  • kimchi
  • lamb
  • leeks
  • lemon
  • lime
  • olives
  • pheasant
  • pickles
  • plums
  • purslane
  • raspberry
  • sauerkraut
  • sauerbraten
  • trout
  • vinegars
  • yogurt

Contraindications for sour – Greatly reduce or avoid sour if you are overly tight and inflexible (in body or mind).   Sour may be contraindicated or need to be greatly reduced in many forms of arthritis or disorders when the muscles and ligaments are overly tight and inflexible.

So, the next time you a feel you need to astringe, add some lemon to your tea!

Be well,