Eat red dates on Chunfen, spring equinox, in Taiwan

Taiwanese TCM calls for eating red dates, shellfish on Chunfen - spring equinox

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Red dates. (Photo from flickr user 你猜 纪)

Red dates. (Photo from flickr user 你猜 纪)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Today on the lunisolar calendar is Chunfen (春分), the spring equinox, when adherents to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believe the body needs special nourishment to adjust to this transition, and red dates and shellfish are considered good supplements to balance the liver on this day.

As the spring equinox results in an equal length of day and night, TCM practitioners believe that it is an important stage to help balance yin and yang in the human body. In particular, TCM dictates that on this day, one should properly moderate the development of yang chi (陽氣, yang energy) by consuming red dates, which are also believed to be good for skin care and have anti-aging properties.

The lunisolar calendar's 24 solar terms are distinguished by the sun's exposure to the earth. Because the earth rotates 360 degrees around the sun for a year, a solar term corresponds to every 15 degrees of rotation.

In an interview with UDN, Taipei Chinese Medical Association Director Peng Wenya (彭溫雅) said that after Chunfen passes, the yang chi of spring and summer starts to rise, therefore the focus of fostering health care is to nourish yang chi. Peng advises that during this period it is best to go to sleep early and get up early, and to not do things that damage yang energy, such as staying up late at night or becoming angry.

In addition, Chunfen is considered a season that nourishes the liver, and the liver is associated with the element for "wood." Because wood gives rise to fire, if a person does not properly care for their liver, too much "heat" will build up in their body, which will manifest itself in a variety of skin and bodily discomforts, such as acne and ulcers in the mouth.

Red dates

According to the tenets of TCM, red dates, particularly dried ones, are considered good for tonifying the liver. Red dates are rich in iron, zinc and Vitamin B.

Among the nutrients contained in red dates, iron can prevent anemia, while zinc is closely associated with the motility of eggs and sperm. Vitamin B can replenish vitality, while a component of the Vitamin B group, folic acid, helps the body produce red blood cells, not only during pregnancy, but can also maintain a youthful appearance in general, reported Everyday Health.

The pantothenic acid found in red dates is believed to assist in the function of Vitamin C, can adjust hormone imbalances, and inhibit allergic reactions, according to the report.

Shellfish

From March 3 until Chunfen, the human body's "liver chi" will gradually flourish. On the other hand, an imbalance of "liver chi," may cause symptoms, especially once the liver is "stagnant" and "hot," according to Everyday Health.

Examples of conditions resulting from a "stagnant" and "hot" liver would be eye problems, such as blurred vision, itchy eyes, or dry eyes. Problems related to the head can also occur, such as vertigo.

Other symptoms include a disrupted menstrual cycle, absent menstruation, severe menstrual pain, anemia, and other forms of blood retention (blood stasis), as well as muscle cramps and tremors. TCM practitioners believe that eating more shellfish can fortify the liver and alleviate these symptoms, according to the website.

The site recommended eating clams at this time of year, even those who do not suffer the above-mentioned symptoms. The clam season in Taiwan is from February to March.