Recipe for "Flu Fighting Soup" from the UK's first Medicinal Chef
'Medicinal Cookery' by Dale Pinnock, the UK's first Medicinal Chef, shows how, based on the most cutting edge research, common ingredients can be used as powerful medicines. This "Flu Fighting Soup' recipe is a good example.
Dale's Flu Fighting Soup
1 red onion
1 green chilli
4 cloves of garlic
5 cm (2 inch) piece of ginger
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 punnet of shiitake mushrooms
2 Handfuls of goji berries
Finely chop the onion, chillies, garlic, and ginger. Add to a pan with a little olive oil, and a pinch of crystal salt. Sauté on a mid to high heat until the onion softens.
Dice the sweet potato. Slice the shiitake mushrooms. Add these two ingredients, plus the goji berries to the onion, garlic, chilli, and ginger. Stir well, then add enough vegetable stock to cover all the ingredients. Simmer well, until the potato is soft.
At this stage, add the soup to a blender, and blend into a vivid orange, spicy soup.
A very rich source of the antioxidant compound beta carotene. This is the plant form of vitamin A and the chemical responsible for the vivid yellow flesh of this delectable squash. Beta carotene is a subtle but effective anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce the severity of generic cold and flu symptoms.
Sweet potatoes also contain a unique protein, called a storage protein that actually acts as a food source to the plant as it is growing. This protein has been shown in some studies in China to increase the production of white blood cells.
These have been used as a tonic for the immune system for centuries. They have been highly revered in traditional medicinal systems of the Orient. You may well be wondering what is so special about a simple mushroom. The truth is that certain types of mushroom can deliver a stronger influence to the immune system than any other substance, natural or manmade.
Medicinal mushrooms, such as shiitake and maitake, contain a group of very chemically complex sugars called polysaccharides. Almost 40 years of clinical study in Japan, USA, and China, has revealed that these sugars are the magic bullets that make medicinal mushrooms such powerful immune boosters. It was once believed that these sugars were absorbed by the body and then caused the immune system to behave a certain way. However, it is now becoming clear that these sugars exit the body via the bowel completely untouched, yet the effect is still being observed.
If you recall the description of the lymphatic system above, you will remember that there are areas of lymphatic tissue around the body performing certain functions. In the walls of our gut, there are patches of lymphatic tissue called Peyer's patches. These can be likened to surveillance stations in the gut, keeping an eye on what is going on. These stations are staffed by a team of cells called dendritic cells that constantly monitor what is going on in the digestive tract, as it is a convenient way for bugs and pathogens to enter the body.
Dendritic cells are powerless to deal with any type of invader or troublemaker themselves, rather, they are able to effectively identify the type of problem, then quickly and conveniently radio through to the right emergency service that can deal with the problem. It is believed that when the polysaccharides found in shiitake mushroom move past these patches of tissue in the digestive tract, they cause the dendritic cells to become excited and release chemical messengers that rush through the whole body and cause a sudden and drastic increase in the production of white blood cells. This is because the polysaccharides have a similar chemical shape to sugars expressed by some common types of bacteria.
In essence, by eating these mushrooms we dupe the body into thinking that it is under a more serious bacterial attack. Obviously, as we aren't, this response gives us more of an abundance of white blood cells that are then able to move towards the site of infection from colds, flu, etc, and deal with the problem far quicker. Consumption of these mushrooms on a regular basis is a great way to enhance our daily defences, even when we are not sick.
This is the mother of all natural antivirals. The strong smelly oils help to kill viruses and bacteria in the upper digestive tract.
Ginger is another one of those ingredients that we naturally associate with cough and cold medicines. Ginger has a wide and complex chemistry. Part of this is a group of compounds called gingerols. These essential oils, that give ginger its strong zingy aroma and spicy flavour, are well known as strong anti-inflammatories. Similar to a class of drugs known as 'COX-2 Inhibitors', the oils found in ginger help to interrupt the inflammatory process. When inflammation becomes active, a series of chemical reactions takes place, with the end result being active inflammation. Gingerols simply get in the way of this chain reaction and prevent it from becoming fully active, thus naturally lowering inflammation.
During a cold, we can experience an uncomfortable bunged up feeling: a blocked nose and congested sinuses. Many of us think that we are bunged up with mucous (there is obviously some present), but most of that feeling actually comes from inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the nose and sinuses. The anti-inflammatory action of ginger helps to reduce the bunged up sensation.
The second benefit of ginger is that it stimulates circulation, by relaxing the blood vessel walls and widening the vessel. Enhancing circulation in this manner helps to increase the rate at which white blood vessels move around the body on their way to the site of infection. It also increases the rate of delivery of fresh oxygen and nutrients, and the removal of waste products from all tissues, including those that are infected.
Chilli has been used medicinally by almost every conceivable traditional medicinal system on planet earth. Apart from its powerful stimulatory activity, and painkilling properties, chilli can rapidly thin out mucous, making it far easier to remove from the body. This is especially useful when we are so bunged up that we can't even blow our nose. I'm sure many of you have experienced the classic runny nose after eating a strong chilli. Consuming these as much as possible during an infection can really help to clear things up rapidly.
These have been all over the media in recent years. If you believe everything you read about them, they would make you fly, walk on water, or have a libido like Don Juan. In reality however, these berries are really quite simple and other than being nutrient dense, don't do a great deal. However, there is one property that excites me. They contain polysaccharides similar to those found in shiitake mushrooms which also have been shown to up-regulate white blood cell production.
Medicinal Cookery is published by 'Right Way', £7.99 in all good bookshops.
For more information visit www.dalepinnock.com