The five flavours in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) are: sour, sweet, bitter, pungent and salty. These are also linked to the four natures: cold, cool, warm and hot. TCM uses the flavours of food to coincide with the seasons. For example: In winter we enjoy more warm – hot meals to warm us up, and in Summer we want more cool – cold foods to cool us down.
It is thought that lemons originated in China (along with India, Burma and other parts of southeast Asia), so it's no surprise that the lemon is considered healthy for your diet according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM).
Hot lemon water first thing in the morning is ideal for the Liver to get things moving for the day ahead, energetically and to hydrate the body after 8 hours of sleep by flushing out the old to make way for the new nourishment of the day. It also stimulates bile to assist the digestive system in breaking down food which in our modern society we can use a helping hand with.
It's essential that you heat the water (and have it filtered), but it doesn't have to be super hot, just warm enough that your digestive system gets toasty so it can accept the food that will enter its system shortly. In Chinese medicine, we preach how important our Stomach Fire is; this is our ability to break down food and absorb, so we stay happy and healthy. Cold food and drink can weaken our digestive fire, so we must protect it if we want to be healthy. Lemon helps ramp up these processes, which is fabulous because it's easy to squeeze a lemon into hot water.
Lemons have the same atomic structure as digestive juices found in our stomachs; it tricks the Liver into producing bile, helping keep food moving through your body and gastrointestinal tract smoothly. This is why it is so helpful with relieving indigestion and easing stomach upset.
Lemons are warriors for your white blood cell production; vitamin C stimulates white blood cell production, which is vital for your immune system to function correctly and protect cells from oxidative damage.
The antioxidants in lemons fight damage caused by free radicals, keeping your skin looking fresh. It also helps the body produce collagen, essential in smoothing out lines in the face.
In Chinese medicine, we practise a type of food therapy called Shi Liao and lemons are known to go to the energetic systems of the Lung, Spleen, Stomach and Liver. They have the qualities of being sour, astringent and cool. We use it to curb excessive appetite and GERD/ acid reflux symptoms, anything causing digestive upset, or what we refer to as rebellious Stomach Qi.
They protect the core emotional centre of a person, which helps keep a person stable emotionally and remain calm in stressful situations. This is because the Liver is in charge of the smooth flow of Qi and when we are stressed, it becomes stagnate. Lemon goes straight to the Liver to the rescue! In Chinese medicine, how lemons balance our emotional qualities is fascinating!
So, when should you drink lemon water?
It's true that lemon water will help in different ways depending on the time of day.
In the morning:
Energizes the body
Stimulates digestive system
Helps weight loss
Boosts brain power
Detoxes the colon
Helps weight loss
Boosts immune system
Helps with heartburn
Helps reduce inflammation
It's safe to say you can't go wrong with half of a lemon in the morning or at night. I challenge you to incorporate it for two weeks and see how you feel.
One organic lemon (start with half), lemon squeezer, 8oz cup of hot/warm water, loving intention and a cute cup. Stir.