Lamb: Warm Your Kidney Yang in Winter

Western Australia’s lamb is world-renowned, flavoursome, tasty and tender. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that lamb has very good health promoting properties. It is warm in nature, it invigorates yang, especially kidney to benefit the Qi and warm blood circulation. Before we talk about lamb I will introduce you to Kidney Yang.

1. What is Kidney Yang?

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Kidney yang has the function of the kidney through its energy. Kidney yang is very important to warm the body, as the kidneys are located around the lower back kidney yang controls most of the lower back and leg circulation. Many important functions of the body are associated with kidney yang such as; development of the body and sexual organ development, sexual function, immune system and brain function and more. So kidney yang is very important to the body.

2. Symptoms of Weak Kidney Yang

Cold hands and cold feet, aversion to cold, lethargy, lower back, hip and knee pain, sole of feet and heel pain, puffy knees and ankles, lowered sex drive, impotence, decreased sperm count, delayed period or infertility, poor memory, grey hair in young age, early onset menopause, adverse symptoms of menopause, frequent urination day and night. These are very common symptoms associated with kidney yang deficiency. If you are undergoing treatment for these associated symptoms I suggest you eat a certain amount of lamb to complement your treatment.

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3. Health Effects of Lamb

i) Warms the circulation and strengthens the lower back and legs

Many traditional Chinese herbal books mentions lamb as being warm in characteristics and work primarily on the kidneys by tonifying kidney yang and strengthening the body, especially in warming the lower part of the body to improve circulation and stop pain as well as helping the symptoms mentioned above.

ii) Tonifying blood and increase production of milk after labour

Chinese medicine considers that women after labour will naturally get a lack of Qi, blood and yang. As women will usually have to breast feed straight after labour, they will make blood even weaker, especially during the first 8 weeks after labour. It is important to restore the Qi, blood and yang for the new mum and also her baby. Traditionally, in Chinese culture women eat a certain amount of lamb after labour to not only improve the body’s energy but also helps the uterus recover but also to tonify the blood and help to improve the quality of the milk. Eating Ginger and lamb soup will be beneficial, please see the recipe below.

iii) Warming the circulation and joints in the winter

Many people suffer from joint pain, especially during cold days and winter. This is associated with external cold, as the cold effects the circulation around joints it causes stagnation of blood resulting in pain. For those who have these symptoms, whilst you are undergoing treatment I suggest that you eat a certain amount of lamb to help your body fight the external cold. 

This is why in North China, lamb during winter is a very popular food to eat. If you travel to Beijing in the winter you will find a favorite lamb dish which is very popular in every restaurant called Steamed bowl lamb and known in Chinese as Shuan “yang rou”, it is very delicious.

4. Recipe

i) Ginger and lamb soup

0.5kg lamb chopped
3 pieces of ginger
2 tblsp chopped spring onion
8 Cups of water

Boil the water and lamb, clear the top of the soup and discard. Add ginger and spring onions and simmer for 2 hours. You can add any salt and pepper for taste. If you like you can add your favorite vegetables.

Effects: Tonify Qi, blood and yang. Warms the body and expel the cold.

If you have this soup after labour for the first month, you can add 10g of a herb called Dang Gui to help to tonify the blood. This soup is called Gand, gui, ginger and lamb soup (This is a very traditional soup for women after labour).

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5. Precautions

i) Lamb is warm in characteristic so if your body has an infection it is best to avoid eating

ii) If you suffer from high blood pressure, with hotness feeling of the body it is best to avoid

iii) Eat lamb less during the hot summer

iv) If you re unsure of your body constitution please see your experienced TCM practitioner for help

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