Strawberries are another one of the earliest gifts of nature to emerge in spring and early summer. A very welcome and tantalizing treat after a long cold winter. So many great recipes can be made with strawberries, and not all are sweet or conventional. Alongside the beloved Strawberry Tart, other creative dishes include, Strawberry Ricotta Crepes, Sweet Strawberry Gnocchi, Strawberry Pizza and Strawberry Risotto with Dark Chocolate. For something savory Strawberry Shitake Mushroom Risotto and Strawberry Balsalmic Vinagrette would be worth a try!
Although today we look at strawberries as simply a treat, the people of old, being of another mindset, looked at them very differently. They believed that the divine was in the natural order of all things. Recognizing that since spring itself proceeded in a consistent seasonal sequence, it’s plants came from a successive order as well and were anything but arbitrary. They gathered the gifts of spring, wisely believing that as firstlings they are symbolic of youth, invigorating and helped remove the accumulated slag left in the body from winter.
Spring plants like asparagus and strawberries were justifiably as much foods, as remedies and everything that grew subsequently in each of the four seasons was examined and used to their benefit based on this reasoning. Worldwide, these consistent natural patterns have been observed in all lands and cultures.
The simple detoxifying effect of strawberries has been commonly understood and recognized for quite some time. It was not uncommon in Europe for people to fast on strawberries. A common weekly practice during strawberry season would be three 4 oz servings, three times per day.
Carl Lennaeus (1707–1778), the famous Swedish botanist and physician responsible for the formal protocol for how all plants and species are named, was among many of his day who successfully treated gout and the urinary tract with nothing more than extended strawberry fasts.
The benefits of these practices have been accepted and confirmed in Europe. In North America, however, it is just one more piece of otherwise useful but entirely lost or ignored knowledge.
In herbalism most plants, flowers and fruits that exhibit the colors red, blue or purple are almost automatically related to the blood (but not all). Many are known to be blood cleansing, blood building, blood warming, blood cooling, detoxifying and consequently mildly anti-inflammatory, and because of it, immune system building.
Aside from color, however, the strawberry’s most interesting characteristic are it’s seeds. Their placement on the surface of it’s skin, rather than inside, suggests that the strawberry actually helps the skin in some way. Not surprisingly, the strawberry was also traditionally used to clean and cool sores, aiding them towards healing. The same is to be expected if they are eaten. They improve the skin by purging toxins through it (which may produce a temporary rash in the process.)
The moisturizing, cleansing, and naturally cooling effect of strawberries are further clues that they are skin friendly. It is not surprising that they are used in spa treatments as facial masks. There are likely several formulas but a simple puree of fresh strawberries with some honey and yogurt is very effective. Massage onto the face, leave it on for about 15 minutes and rinse off with cool water. Given that the ingredients are gentle, nutritive, moisturizing and do not strip the skin of anything but excess heat from blemishes, this can be done quite often. Your skin will thank you for it. Strawberries have also been found to protect against sunburn. For more detailed info on strawberries and the skin click here.
Strawberries are rich in potassium, manganese and vitamin C and contain several B vitamins, vitamin E , amino acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc. Like most other berries and fruit they are naturally high in fiber and antioxidants. As you would expect, wild strawberries picked from sunny patches off the forest floor are much smaller than the cultivated varieties but, are naturally more potent in their nutritional content as well as flavor and aroma.
17th century herbalists, Nicholas Culpepper, Fr. Sebastian Kneipp and Fr. Johann Kuenzle, all mentioned that strawberries are generally cooling to the blood, liver, spleen and stomach. They recognized that the stomach and liver worked cooperatively with the kidneys to maintain their necessary moisture for the sake of their respective digestive and detoxification functions. It was understood even then, that the cooling and moistening principle active in strawberries could positively affect the stomach and liver through the aid of, and in cooperation with the kidneys.
In those times they mostly used the wild strawberry leaf and root as a tea to address problems like liver and stomach issues as well as kidney related issues like gout and arthritis. Issues resulting from excess heat such as urinary tract, bladder and kidney infections also benefited greatly. Since these ailments are extensions of the effects of “the waters of the body, Traditional Herbal Theory logically links these problems to kidney functions.
It is important to note that it is the cooling factor of the strawberries and their parts that are mainly being employed. The strawberry itself does not specifically address functional issues directly but assists them through their natural moistening and cooling effects. This is why strawberry is often mixed with other herbs like corn silk or parsley.
The red juicy appearance of strawberries seems to scream, “Are you thirsty?” – a characteristic that did not go unnoticed by herbalist Sebastian Kneipp. He recommended strawberries for those who seemed to have an almost unquenchable thirst and who suffered from an “uncomfortable sensation of internal heat.” What Kneipp was describing is very similar, if not identical to the Oriental Yin Depletion concept – a depletion of the cooling energies. Given the cooling effect of strawberries, it would seem that his connection is quite correct.
The Kidneys, when attempting to remove toxins, can get overworked, sometimes exhausting themselves into a cooled, depleted state. Regardless if from a pathogen or the over consumption of energy, both overheated and excessively cooled states ultimately weaken and inhibit kidney functions. Wastes, unable to be completely eliminated from weakened kidney functions, accumulate in the “waters of the body” making them turbid. In time, an over saturation occurs, and excess minerals and toxins will eventually precipitate out of solution to form microscopic crystals. Crystals can form in the flesh and in areas where the influence of the kidneys is more dominant like the soles of the feet, knees, hips, lower back or in any joint. Pain and inflammations result in the form of gout, arthritis, sciatica etc.
The nature of whatever ends up in the waters of the body determines the extent of it’s coolness and can also be accompanied by dryness. In this case, the specific moistures of the strawberry can be effectively employed to rehydrate, dilute and dissolve the crystalline deposits back into solution to then be removed through normalized kidney functions. It is as simple as wetting something that has become too dry albeit still cool.
If inflammations were present, the causes are eliminated through detoxification and they subside, freeing the strawberry’s cooling and moistening properties to act in a more balsamic manner; healing and soothing the effected area.
Dryness is also present in ailments that are consumptive or depleting in their nature. The subtle moistening energy of the strawberry is capable of reintroducing moisture into the tissues of the body where it has been depleted to restore them to their normal proportion and weight. It is important to note that water alone cannot and does not suffice to achieve this effect.
Unfortunately, in our modern day, the seasonal health benefits of the strawberry with it’s naturally detoxifying effect may also be a catalyst in what are being called “allergic” effects that have recently become more and more prevalent. It could be suggested however, that the culprit is not the strawberry at all. Since other common natural food staples in their raw unprocessed state are starting to produce the same effects recently, could it be due to chemicals or a compromised immune system instead?
It is a known fact that at least 200 traceable chemicals, that had never before existed in nature can be found inside the human body today. Our present environment, living circumstances and lifestyle choices have changed significantly from past centuries. Could this be somehow related to this alleged allergy to strawberries, a now common phenomenon that did not happen with any frequency as little as 60 years ago?
TCM or Traditional Herbal Theory does not consider these reactions to be true allergic responses but a healing crisis that results from detoxification. As the results this can be potentially life threatening however, great care should be taken and a health care provider should be consulted in such cases.
Of similar importance, since conventionally grown and cultivated strawberries are prone to pests, they are often sprayed with pesticides. It’s a good practice to soak theses beautiful, shiny red berries in water and vinegar for about 5 minutes. This will help remove some of the chemical residue. With no transfer of any acidic flavor this is a good procedure to practice when washing any conventionally grown fruit or vegetable.
Having Some Fun With Strawberries
Health is not all about measuring everything you eat as though it were a lab experiment. Healthy people all over the world eat heartily, fully enjoying their foods. They might enjoy strawberries in their raw state but, they can also be prepared for the shear enjoyment of eating them without compromising health.
If all a person eats has had all the goodness and nutrition processed out of it – Why Eat It!!! The main thing is to mind the ingredients you are putting into your food. Eating healthy is about eating fresh food, freshly prepared and eating it right after it has been freshly prepared.
Here are some recipes that can be enjoyed by those who love strawberries. Just click on the picture that looks most appetizing and it will take you to a fabulous recipe.
Here Are Two Delicious Strawberry Recipes!
|Strawberry Ricotta Pizza||Strawberry Crepes with Ricotta|