Article 88: Coffee in Eastern medical philosophy
Following pilgrimages, expeditions, medieval international trade routes, coffee came to the East as a balanced energy source for health.
Eastern medicine and philosophy of life in balance and harmony
Eartern medicine includes the medical system of Eastern countries such as China, India, Japan, Korea, Vietnam… Notably, ancient Chinese medicine was formed early and developed strongly. Based on the ancient philosophy of Chinese civilization, it is recognized as a typical medicine, representing Eastern medicine.
According to the world history of medical development analyzed on the advancement of approach and research, Eastern medicine was formed in the period of empirical medicine, in the ancient period, thousands of years ago. Based on the accumulation of experience from real life through living, working and influenced by the natural environment such as air, soil, food, water… people gradually form life experiences, over time, it generalized into a philosophy of life, serving as a theoretical basis for methods of nurturing and protecting health.
The theory of “Yin and Yang – Five Elements” and “The Unity of Human-Heaven” in ancient Chinese philosophy are considered as the direct foundation for the formation and development of Eastern medical theory. Ancient Chinese philosophy recognizes that the human body is closely related to the universe, made up of five elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, and is governed by two main elements: yin – yang. The Law of Yin and Yang – The Five Elements are the basis of physiological and pathological changes of the body and the natural world. According to the authors of The Inner Canon of the Emperor – a work of medical theory and practice that is considered the most classic of ancient Chinese medicine recorded and is one of the precious books in the field of medicine in the “Life-changing Foundational Bookcase” dedicatedly and carefully selected by the founder – Chairman of Trung Nguyen Legend Group Dang Le Nguyen Vu, the unity and balance of the elements of yin – yang and the five elements, corresponding to each part, each process of human life movement is the basis for creating health.
In particular, the world of Eastern philosophy recognizes that man is the ultimate spirit in all things, the existence of man’s “real life” depends not only on the body but also on the spirit. Human health accordingly has a close relationship between physical strength and comfort in each person’s spiritual life as recorded in the book of The Inner Canon of the Emperor. The traditional Indian school of medicine called Ayurveda (Ayur – life and Veda – knowledge) also holds that health is not merely the freedom from disease but also a state of physical, mental, and spiritual balance.
Appreciate the balance of yin and yang in the body, focus on the harmony between man and nature, man with society, the harmony of energy between the parts of the body, a lifestyle in accordance with the transformation of yin and yang, knowing how to adjust the excesses or inadequacies of the five elements, returning to a balanced state of mind and physiology according to the inherent objective laws of nature is what Eastern medicine promotes people to pursue to have good health.
Opinions about coffee in Eastern medicine
The culture that attaches importance to “balance”, “harmony” has deeply influenced the concept and method of healing of Eastern medicine. The concept of “prevention is better than cure”, cure is to restore the state of “total balance”, as well as focus on using herbs from roots, bark, flowers, seeds, fruits, leaves as medicine… unique cultural features of Eastern medicine.
Shennong Manuscripts, one of the first medical works published in the early years of the Han Dynasty, compiled 365 tonics and medicinal herbs from herbs to nourish the balance of human body and mind. This is an important cultural document in terms of pharmacology in Eastern medicine still handed down to this day. From here, the masters of the Eastern medical system continued to research and thicken the list of precious herbs from time to time.
The emergence and popularity of coffee in the Arab world in the Middle Ages as a source of divine energy bestowed on people for mental alertness and health quickly spread to the East. Through pilgrimages and long journeys, coffee has come to the East as a precious medicine, used in the Indian philosophy of Ayurvedic medicine and in Chinese herbal remedies.
According to some ancient documents, before being discovered in Ethiopia, popular in the Arab world and coming to Asia, coffee first appeared in the world in the Olmec civilization in 3600 BC by the name of Macalt bitter seeds. According to the Olmec civilized community, Macalt bitter seed was given to mankind by the Father God as a magical drink that cures many diseases and nourishes the nervous system, making people lucid, youthful and happy. Therefore, the Olmec people have a recipe for growing the bitter seed to create the special medicine of heaven and earth and the universe. Macalt bitter seeds are described in detail with dark green leaves, fragrant white flowers, miniature egg-shaped fruits, long or shorter than a knuckle, green, then gradually yellow, bright red, and finally dark. Inside each cherry there are two seeds representing Heaven and Earth. Large seeds are used to treat diseases, small seeds are used as daily drinks.
The recipe for Macalt Bitter Seeds – the specialty medicine of Heaven and Earth, disappeared with the disintegration of the Olmec civilization. However, when coming to the Eastern world, through a unique medical theory system, coffee continues to be analyzed and recognized as a precious energy source, balancing yin and yang, with useful functional properties, beneficial to the human body, in harmony with the five elements of nature, heaven and earth. Coffee belongs to the plant family Rubiaceae and many herbs are mentioned in the Shennong Manuscripts, used in diet and medicine. Green coffee, with the color corresponding to the Wood element, is useful in heat circulation, cooling the liver. The bright red color of the ripe coffee fruit represents the Fire element, which affects the heart and meridians, as well as stimulates mental activity. The bitter taste and black color of the coffee beans correspond to the Fire and Water elements that affect the gallbladder and kidneys. Along with the bitter taste, coffee also has a sweet taste corresponding to the Earth element, which has the effect of nourishing the spleen and stomach. And the acrid, pungent taste of coffee corresponds to the Metal element, having a healthy impact on the lungs and large intestine.
Accordingly, Eastern medicine masters have used green coffee beans to regulate the liver and qi, stimulate strong energy, bring spiritual and physical vitality to the body. In particular, when roasted, coffee retains its basic pharmacological properties, but changes from a cooling, yin herb, to a warming, yang herb. In oriental medicine, foods with yang have the effect of increasing vitality and warming the body. Coffee helps circulate blood and qi and is dispersive in both up and down directions. With the upward direction, coffee helps to lift the spirits and stimulate the brain. With the downward direction, coffee is useful for the digestive and excretory systems. Besides, from the point of view of Eastern medicine, the special aroma of coffee has the function of refreshing the spirit, dispelling fatigue. At the same time, the medical masters combined coffee with other herbs such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, anise, reishi mushroom, etc. to moderate and improve its effects on human health.
Formed on the mysterious Eastern land, from the homeland of the world’s best Robusta coffee beans – Vietnam, with constant research and learning about the history of coffee and the value of coffee in all fields of social life, Trung Nguyen Legend Group considers coffee as a source of awakening and creative energy for people. In particular, Trung Nguyen Legend has filtered three typical coffee civilizations of the world: Ottoman – Roman – Thien (meditaion). In particular, Thien coffee civilization was created by Trung Nguyen Legend, converging the quintessence and philosophy of Eastern people, promoting the value of coffee to a new height, to philosophical coffee.
Readers are cordially invited to watch the series of Coffee Tao videos posted on https://bit.ly/caphetrietdao
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Source: “The Philosophical Way of Coffee” – copyright by Trung Nguyen Legend