Pumpkins and Bao He Wan

by Jennifer L Fockler

Pumpkins and Bao He Wan, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

YAAASSSS! Fall is finally here! Did you know this is my favorite time of year? I love the chill air, smell of leaves, and Halloween (duh!).

 

The ever present great pumpkin and decorative gourds are signs of a fruitful harvest. Plus as the squashes and gourds sit, they become a little sweeter in flavor. No need to be intimidated by these beauties, just cut them in half, put them on a sheet tray and roast! There are so many ways to enjoy them that does not include pie, check out some ideas here.

 

Following on my newsletter theme of important minerals, pumpkins are high in potassium. This crucial mineral is needed by the body in larger amounts than last month’s zinc, for example. Everyone knows that bananas are a great source of potassium, but so are pumpkins and sweet potatoes, which are perfect for the season.

 

Potassium is crucial for hydration and is one of the major electrolytes in the body. It also helps muscles contract and helps maintain blood pressure. In fact, if you are experiencing heart palpitations, I recommend trying some potassium. If you don’t like bananas or pumpkin, try coconut water, as it’s also a great source. The same goes for leg cramps. You can get a lot of relief by ingesting extra potassium during the day and taking a magnesium supplement before bed.

 

In Chinese Medicine, pumpkin is the perfect food for the Spleen and Stomach. It’s easy to digest, very nutritious and filling. In fact, it’s great for problems of constipation and diarrhea. Pumpkin seeds are also really good at ‘scrubbing’ the walls of the digestive tract.

 

Pro tip! Pumpkin is also good for your dog and/or cat. You can mix it straight out of the can with their regular food or you can find higher end brands with the pumpkin already in it. I’ve personally used BFF Tuna and Pumpkin for my senior cat who gets constipated easily, which is very common in older cats. Just make sure you are using plain canned pumpkin with no sugar or spices added.

 

Plus its almost Thanksgiving, where we get to eat all the delicious foods we don’t normally eat the rest of the year.

 

I know I’ve talked about indigestion before, but it bears repeating this time of year. In Chinese Medicine we call this Food Stagnation. It is characterized by symptoms of distention, fullness, and pain in the epigastrium and abdomen which is relieved by vomiting, foul belching, sour regurgitation, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep and changes in bowel movements.

 

What does that really mean? You ate too much and now you’re gassy and bloated with smelly burps and smelly farts, it could even be painful. You can’t imagine wanting to eat ever again! Plus, you can’t sleep from crazy dreams or from heartburn waking you up and the bathroom feels like you can’t go or when you do its big and smelly. Jeesh! We’ve all been there.

 

A popular herbal formula for this is called Bao He Wan. It has a few ingredients you would recognize, like dried tangerine peel and medicated leaven (old school probiotics). Another ubiquitous herb is Ginger, which is so helpful for indigestion. I also really like chamomile tea and Swedish Bitters when my stomach is not happy. The point is, you have plenty of options before you need to resort to over the counter meds and/or antacid scripts.

 

Unfortunately, stress, coffee and alcohol are big offenders here. Most of the time, I find all three go together! So, anything you can do to limit these, especially during the holidays will give you an advantage.

 

Acupuncture excels at treating digestive issues and often produces immediate results. Don’t wait until it’s too late. A little proactive treatment can prevent a bigger problem down the road.