What Your Acupuncturist Wants You to Know About the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Spice
Just the other day I was on a Costco run with my husband and we saw how everything was pumpkin spice. He looked at me and asked, “Don’t you think pumpkin spice is over?” I laughed and said, “Pumpkin spice will never be over.” Let me explain why.
Pumpkin is nan gua in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This squash corresponds to the Earth Element and the season of Late Summer/Early Fall. Pumpkin nourishes the Spleen and because the Spleen is the mother of the Lungs, it can also nourish the Lungs and boost your immunity. This is very important during cold and flu season which begins in early fall.
Now that you know some of the basic benefits of pumpkin, let’s go over the warming, aromatic spices in pumpkin spice.
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What Is Pumpkin Spice?
Pumpkin spice is a spice blend of four warming, aromatic herbs that nourish the Lungs, boost immunity, and transform phlegm. Pumpkin spice blends typically contain the following ingredients, all of which are, you guessed it, Chinese herbs (and these herbs have potent health benefits): ginger, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. Read on to learn about the TCM actions of these individual pumpkin spice herbs.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Spice
The following individual herbs featured in pumpkin spice blends work seamlessly to help your body boost immune function, warm and support digestion, and soothe pain, especially pain made worse by cold weather.
Gan Jiang (Ginger)
Gan Jiang, also referred to as Ginger, warms the lungs, expels phlegm, warms the center, nourishes Yang, and expels cold
Rou Dou Kou (Nutmeg)
Rou Dou Kou, also referred to as Nutmeg, warms the Middle Jiao, moves Qi, stops diarrhea, and alleviates pain
Ding Xiang (Clove)
Ding Xiang, also referred to as Clove, warms the Middle Jiao and directs rebellious Qi downward, warms the Kidney and tonifies Kidney Yang
Rou Gui (Cinnamon)
Rou Gui, also referred to as Cinnamon, fortifies the Kidney, Spleen, and Heart Yang, warms the channels, disperses the cold and warms the channels, encourages the generation of Qi and Blood
Pumpkin Spice Nourishes Digestion and Boosts Immunity
Pumpkin spice, when blended together, comes at the perfect time to help our body get used to the cold and harmonize digestion. From a TCM perspective, as our body gets colder, our Middle Jiao (digestive) fire moves outward to keep our limbs warm and therefore, digestion might not be as strong in the fall and winter when we are cold.
This is one of the beautiful things about pumpkin spice, this herb blend works together to fortify and warm digestion just as your digestive strength might fade due to the colder weather. This is another reason you should begin switching to warm, cooked foods in the fall. Your body won’t have to work as hard to digest cooked foods.
In addition to harmonizing and warming digestion, pumpkin spice has anti-inflammatory herbs like ginger and nutmeg to help with pain. We know that cold weather can make pain worse for some people, especially those with osteoarthritis. These herbs, especially cinnamon, warm the channels to help alleviate pain.
As you can see, pumpkin spice is the perfect herbal blend to get your body ready for fall. Just be sure you don’t overdo it on the sugar when enjoying pumpkin spice. If you are having more pain with the cold of fall or if you need an immunity boost, it’s a good idea to go ahead and schedule your appointment to be evaluated by one of our acupuncturists at our clinic in Washington, DC.