There are many varieties of radish such as: black, white (daikon), round radish, elongated French radish, horseradish and watermelon radish to name a few.
Both the greens and the roots can be used in cooking and the roots have a slightly spicy flavour when eaten raw.
The Chinese have a proverb that reflects how well they think radish supports health:
“Eating radish in winter (and ginger in summer), one would not need any prescriptions from doctors.”
High in Vitamin C, radishes are a great antioxidant and have been found to eliminate fungi that can disrupt fertility health.
Key nutrients of the Radish are:
Vitamin C: helps to repair and regenerate tissues, help with the absorption of iron, prevent scurvy, and decrease total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides.
Research shows that vitamin C protects against free radicals due to its antioxidant nature. It also helps neutralize the effects of nitrites (a group of commonly used preservatives), which many people come into contact with daily.
For fertility health vitamin C is important in the process of absorption and also in its ability to support the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
Supplement forms of vitamin C are usually inferior compared to natural sources and my advice is to obtain this nutrient from your diet daily through fresh vegetables and fruit.
Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine is involved in breaking many types of chemical bonds and is a component of many enzymes – which are involved in breaking down foods and substances, and also regulating steroid hormones.
B6 also helps in the production of neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals that allow brain and nerve cells to communicate – and this ensures that metabolic processes such as fat and protein metabolism happen properly. B6 is also a strong component of the immune system, which makes it vital to have in your diet.
Vitamin B2: Riboflavin is necessary for energy production and normal cell function and growth. It supports the other B vitamins to make the chemical changes that allow them to become useful to your body. Research shows that vitamin B2 can act as an antioxidant, which help to combat against harmful free radicals. Free radicals are known to negatively impact sperm and egg health, and so antioxidants are a vital part of the human diet.
Vitamin B2 is also needed by your adrenal glands for the production of steroid hormones, which balance stress levels.
Vitamin B9: Folate is essential for human growth and development and it encourages normal nerve and brain function. It’s involved in the creation of DNA as well as building of proteins, and many other important functions including the healthy development of your baby’s’ spinal cord.
Folate has long been known for its protection against spina bifida, but many people don’t realise that it’s also important for their day-to-day health.
During pregnancy folate also supports the growth of the placenta and helps to prevent several types of birth defects, especially those of the brain and spine. Folate is an important nutrient for general and fertility health.
Potassium: Is an electrolyte which counteracts the effects of sodium, helping to maintain consistent blood pressure levels – another important element for pregnancy. Many processes in the body rely on a small electric current to function, and electrolytes provide this current.
Potassium is required to keep the brain, heart, kidneys, muscle tissue, and other important organs in good condition. Its health benefits are; boosting the immune system, Improving bone health, improving muscle strength, blood sugar regulation, blood pressure regulation, maintaining optimal nerve and brain function.
Natural sources of potassium are: Dried apricots, banana, broccoli, bell pepper, chicken, cod, citrus fruits, Kiwi, potatoes, salmon, sardines, sweet potatoes ,strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon
Copper: Copper is essential for overall health and is involved in many processes in the body. It cannot be produced by the body and must therefore be consumed through food.
Combined with iron it enables the body to form red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body as well as helping with wound healing. Copper helps maintain healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function, and it contributes to iron absorption.
Natural sources of copper are: shellfish, oysters, dark leafy greens, dried fruit, whole grains and organ meats such as Liver and Kidney.
Magnesium- Supports a healthy immune system as well as keeps bones strong. It is also great for stress, and combined with vitamin B6 can help induce sleep and alleviate symptoms of bloating and weight gain associated with PMS.
Stress levels are often high nowadays and magnesium is difficult to obtain in your diet. It is helpful for cell function, and if you become deficient you can quickly experience increased stress levels and disturbed sleep. Muscle cramping can be a sign of magnesium deficiency as an disturbed or erratic sleep patterns.
Natural sources of Magnesium are: artichoke, barley, fish, Leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes and whole grains.
Manganese: is a naturally occurring mineral which aids in the formation of connective tissue, bones, blood-clotting factors, and sex hormones. It is a powerful antioxidant which neutralises the damaging particles of free radicals. It plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation.
Natural sources of Manganese are: Almonds, Bananas, Beetroot, blackberries, cucumber, Green vegetables, Garlic, Grapes, leeks, pineapple, raspberries and strawberries,
Calcium: Calcium is needed to build and maintain strong bones, support heart health, and for optimal function of the muscles and nerves. It is also required alongside Vitamin D to aid in its use throughout the body.
Natural sources of Calcium are: Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Okra, Swiss chard, Soy beans, Tofu and dairy products.
CHINESE FERTILITY MEDICINE USES IT TO:
Circulate the Qi
- Clear mucus accumulation (Dampness or phlegm)
- Clear heat and remove toxins
Circulating the Qi: is an important understanding in Chinese medicine as it links to the need for movement of energy (Qi) throughout the body.
Qi has to move constantly to allow proper flow and circulation of energy, blood, and body fluids at all times. When Qi becomes stagnant it doesn’t flow, and this leads to stagnation – which leads to the disorder of all organ systems.
Stagnation of Qi is easily seen at 2 main stages of the menstrual cycle:
- Pre-period, where hormones are about to switch from Progesterone to Estrogen.
- Ovulation, where hormones are about to switch from Estrogen to Progesterone
These are the 2 ‘switching’ or transitional phases of the menstrual cycle, which rely on the circulation of Qi to aid in this switch and transformation from one phase to the next.
Typical stagnation patterns present with one or more of the following symptoms:
Breast tenderness or distention, temple headaches, bloating, looser or drier than normal stools, constipation, mood changes ( irritability, anger, or tearfulness and sadness), and premenstrual abdominal pain.
In men we see Qi stagnation patterns mostly with mood changes and tension, and at times with symptoms of feeling hotter and more thirsty. Both of these can impact male fertility by interrupting the development of sperm.
For fertility health to be supported we want to avoid stagnation of Qi as it affects all aspects of fertility health, and can disrupt the nurturing of follicles and eggs. It can also impact ovulation as well as interfere with blood flow in the luteal phase causing possible implantation issues.
Most people today have some degree of Qi stagnation, and Radish can be used as one of many foods that excels at helping to circulate the Qi more efficiently.
Clear mucus accumulation: as I’ve mentioned in my previous posts on dampness and phlegm, this substance is more easily described as ‘mucus’ that accumulates in many areas of the body – particularly the reproductive areas. It causes complications such as: PCOS, cysts, fallopian tube blockage, endometriosis, fibroids, high uterine mucus content, excessive mucus discharge throughout the month, urinary infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, sperm morphology and count issues in men.
Mucus can also block the pathway of nutrients to their destined site such as being delivered to egg or sperm cells. If this happens over many months, there may be a temporary decline in egg or sperm support – and the result is poorer quality eggs or sperm.
Radishes are excellent for clearing built up mucus in the body (if eaten regularly) in a gentle supportive way. As they also have a Qi moving effect they further support the flow of nourishment and nutrients around the body.
Clears heat and toxicity: ‘heat’ in Chinese medicine usually refers to some form of inflammation that generates a ‘hot’ feeling – either in the local area such as with skin issues, or generally around the body where someone will typically present with a redder complexion and feeling hot, dry, and thirsty. They may also be more irritated or angry than other people and may also have raised blood pressure.
Generally when there is heat there is also a build up of toxicity in the form of accumulated waste, and this needs to be cleared to reduce the inflammation.
Radish has a cooling nature and is excellent for increasing urination. This helps it to clear and cool the heat and inflammation, and detoxify the waste through increased urination.
Season eaten: Winter to Spring
How it’s typically cooked: To clear heat they are typically eaten raw (only when it suits the person’s constitution to do so). Otherwise they are cooked in stir fries, soups or on their own by boiling, steaming or frying.
CAUTION: Avoid eating them raw if you have signs of coldness or underactivity.
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