Kuzu, A Medicinal Food

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Kuzu, for the Kitchen, the Medicine Chest, and the Suitcase


Kuzu, a strong and tenacious root, is highly-valued in Japan, where the powder from its root is used medicinally and in cooking to thicken soups, sauces, and desserts, much like corn starch or arrowroot.   Kuzu is known as kudzu in the United States, where we view it with mixed sentiments:  It thrives in the Southern States, where it is often viewed as a pesky, invasive, destructive menace, capable even of felling telephone poles!  At the same time, kudzu helps fix the soil to prevent erosion, while it also works as a natural fertilizer.  Wild kudzu requires no irrigation, fertilizers, herbicides, or care.  Kudzu is one of the hardiest plants one could imagine.  Cooking with kuzu powder allows us to capture some of the essence and strengthening powers of the kudzu root.  Kuzu, similar to most roots generally, has a downward/inward energy and nourishes and strengthens the digestive system. 

Kuzu powder (the form used in the recipes that follow) is processed from the root and available in most health food stores.   It is used in cooking and beverages.  While not widely available in the United States, kuzu in its natural root form is also used in the Far East to make healing teas.

Kuzu powder is highly alkalizing and is a wonderful antidote to overeating heavy, acid-forming foods.  It is also a great digestive aid.  Because the powder is derived from the tough kuzu root, it is strengthening, with a strong downward, inward energy, well-suited for the lower intestinal tract.  Kuzu is used to treat colds, flu, fevers, diarrhea, stomach upset, and hangovers.   By alkalizing the blood, kuzu is also used to clear the skin of rashes and minor acne.   And, rich in flavonoids, kuzu can be effective in lowering blood pressure and blood sugar, treating chronic migraine headaches, and relieving acute pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.  Kuzu’s ability to curb cravings for alcohol is validated by modern science, something that was known and used in Chinese medicine more than two thousand years ago.


Kuzu’s ability to relieve overeating, stomach upset, diarrhea, headache, and hangovers make it a perfect remedy to pack this summer if you have travel plans, or anytime in the future when you venture to foreign shores. It is also a handy mainstay in the kitchen, where it can be used in place of cornstarch as a thickening agent and to enhance the flavor of soups, sauces, and desserts. And, unlike cornstarch which thins as it cools, a sauce or dessert with kuzu will continue to thicken when taken from the stove.


Kuzu Recipes1


Kuzu Cream

This restorative tonic is most effective when taken about 1 hour before meals, preferably in the morning on an empty stomach.
1 ½ tablespoons crushed kuzu thoroughly dissolved in 1 cup cold water
1 umeboshi plum, pitted and minced, or 1 teaspoon umeboshi paste
½ teaspoon fresh ginger juice (grate ginger and squeeze to extract juice)
1 teaspoon shoyu (optional)

  1. In a small enamel pan, place dissolved kuzu mixture. Add the umeboshi and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. As soon as the mixture begins to bubble around the edges, stir constantly until kuzu thickens and becomes translucent.
  2. Gently simmer for 1 to 2 minutes longer and remove from the heat. Add the ginger juice and, if desired, shoyu to taste.


Apple Kuzu Drink

A good tonic for constipation and fevers and can be used to help calm hyperactive children. [Try making this by the quart, multiplying quantities by 4. It keeps well.]
1 cup organic apple juice
Pinch of salt (optional)
1 generous teaspoon crushed kuzu starch
1 to 2 tablespoons of water for dissolving kuzu

  1. Heat the apple juice and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles begin to appear around the edges. Remove from the heat.
  2. Thoroughly dissolve the kuzu in water, add it to the juice while stirring, then return the saucepan to the burner. Stir constantly until kuzu thickens and becomes translucent. Simmer 1 minute more, then remove from the heat.
  3. Let cool before serving.

Fruit Sauce

This is a light fruit dessert that can be eaten as is or used as a topping for puddings, cakes, pies, tarts, waffles, or pancakes. It will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

2 ½ cups sliced or whole fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, nectarines, pitted cherries)
1 cup organic apple juice
1/3-1/2 cup brown rice malt syrup (less for sweet fruits; more for tart ones)
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons crushed kuzu starch

  1. Cut larger fruits into bite-size pieces. Small berries can be left whole.
  2. Combine the juice, rice syrup and salt in a saucepan. If cooking the fruit is recommended (see below), add it to the saucepan and bring to a simmer, uncovered, over medium heat. Remove from the heat.
  3. Thoroughly dissolve the kuzu in 2 tablespoons of cool water and add to fruit mixture while stirring briskly. Place over medium-low heat and stir constantly until mixture returns to a simmer and thickens.
  4. If using fruit that does not require cooking, place fruit in a ceramic or glass bowl and pour the hot liquid over it. Mix gently and cool in the refrigerator. If fruit is already mixed in, transfer contents of the pot to a bowl and cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools.


Note: Delicate fruits like strawberries and raspberries should not be cooked. Ripe nectarines do not need cooking, but firmer fruits like blueberries, cherries and apples should be simmered with the juice.



Copyright 2013, Pathways4Health.org


  1. From Japanese Foods that Heal. []

Sea Vegetables for Health

Ocean Vegetables—An Untapped Resource for Health, Longevity and Healing


Ocean vegetables provide ten to twenty times the minerals of land-based plant foods—the complete panoply of 56-64 essential minerals and trace minerals required by the body for its many important functions—all in chelated, colloidal forms that are easy for the body to utilize, and in the ratios found in our blood.1 This is significant because while the body requires a host of minerals and trace minerals to support the vast and complex electrical and neurological functions that are the basis of life, the body is not able to make minerals to supply its needs. For minerals the body must rely on food and other outside sources—something that has become more challenging as decades of over-farming have depleted our soil and robbed land-based plant foods of much of their potential nutrition.


While high in protein and fiber and low in fat, seaweeds are a good source of vitamins A, B, C, and E. They are also loaded with minerals, particularly calcium (bones, teeth; heart and muscle regulation); iodine (thyroid function, metabolism, weight loss, and to prevent goiter), phosphorus (bones, teeth, cellular repair; heart; nervous system) , magnesium (bones, teeth; heart, arteries; energy production), sodium (fluid balance; muscle regulation) , iron (blood; stress; immunity), chromium (weight loss, blood sugar regulation), selenium (tissue elasticity), zinc (digestion and metabolism), potassium (high blood pressure and stroke),2 and fluorine (immunity; strong bones and teeth).


Sea vegetables are also a rich source of alginic acid, a substance that binds toxins and removes heavy metals and radioactive isotopes from the digestive tract, as well as strontium 90 from the bones.3 Their natural antibiotic properties can act against penicillin-resistant bacteria.4 Ocean vegetables are also a good source of carrageenan, a stabilizer and emulsifier added to foods, which is used in traditional medicine for respiratory and digestive issues. Because sea vegetables, unlike grains and beans, contain all the essential amino acids, they are a good addition to grains and beans to build plant foods into complete-protein meals. Brown seaweeds like kelp, kombu, and wakame contain natural glutamic acid (its synthetic analog is MSG) that naturally enhances the flavor of foods, tenderizes proteins in beans, and improves their digestibility.5


Health Benefits. With sea vegetables’ rich array of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, the list of health benefits associated with them is as impressive as it is extensive. In general, sea vegetables are thought to increase longevity; foster glowing skin and thick, shiny hair; and, support the cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive, and nervous systems.6 More specifically, sea vegetables can be used to treat goiter, kidney disease, ulcers, nausea, digestive disorders, obesity, high blood pressure, hypertension, high cholesterol, arteriolosclerosis, hypoglycemia, constipation, bronchitis, metal and radiation toxicity, edema, swollen lymph glands, chronic cough, as well as lumps and tumors and cancer (particularly breast cancer). Traditional Chinese medicine suggests that “there is no swelling that is not relieved by seaweed.”7 Highly alkalizing due to their high mineral content, sea vegetables help to rebalance the blood from acid-forming foods that characterize the Standard American Diet (SAD). They also dissolve mucous accumulation resulting from the SAD diet centered upon meat, commercial dairy, sugars, refined carbohydrates and vegetable oils, and other rich/ fractured foods. And, as one might expect from their high mineral content, they help us feel centered and grounded.


Using Sea Vegetables. Because they are so very rich in minerals, I like to think of sea vegetables as a supplementary ingredient to add sparingly to foods for color, interest, flavor, and nutrition. Sea vegetables are good complements to add extra nutrition to grains, beans, soups, salads, egg dishes, and sandwiches. I always add kombu or kelp when I cook beans, and I add it to most soups that I make. The glutamic acid in kombu/kelp tenderizes beans, aids in their digestion, and enhances their flavor.


Sea vegetables are whole foods; their minerals synergistically complement each other;8 and, the body is generally able to excrete excessive minerals should they be over-consumed. While sea vegetables offer many benefits, moderation is important, particularly due to the high iodine levels found in many of them, especially varieties of kelp. Some people with sensitive thyroids and mothers who are breast feeding and postmenopausal women, may react to excess iodine.9 Consumption of iodine at high levels can actually inhibit thyroid function. Iodine can occasionally cause allergic reactions, mostly in the form of skin rashes in some people, and may also worsen acne.10


To cook with sea vegetables, rinse them well before using, especially if you prefer to avoid extra salt. Increase your consumption gradually if you think your digestive system may need time to adapt, and keep in mind that soaking sea vegetables for longer times will make them easier to digest. Finall, use them sparingly; sea vegetables are best used as a condiment or a side dish. If you do not like to cook, try a kelp and/or dulse shaker at the table to boost the mineral nutrition of meals. If you do enjoy cooking, a good rule of thumb is to consume a total of about 2 cups of cooked sea vegetables per week.11


Some Major Types of Sea Vegetables12


Agar-Agar (Kanten)
Agar is a delightful way to introduce sea vegetables into your cooking, particularly for savory aspics and dessert gelatins and custards. Agar produces a firmer gel than commercial products and it is less inclined to breakdown. A gelatin made from red algaes, it has no taste, no calories, and no smell so it will not interfere with—it actually enhances—the natural taste of fruits and vegetables. It can be used as a thickening medium in cooking and desserts as a healthier alternative to animal-based gelatins.


Health Profile: High in iodine, calcium, iron, and phosphorus along with vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, and K. It reduces inflammation, aids in digestion and weight loss, is a mild laxative, and bonds with toxic and radioactive wastes to help expel them from the body.


Arame is soft, mild, and sweet in flavor so it adapts to Western tastes. It can be cooked alone, with vegetables or added to salads for color, minerals, and interest.


Health Profile: A rich source of iodine, calcium, and iron, as well as vitamins A and the B-complex. It can support thyroid function, soften cysts and tumors, lower blood pressure, strengthen bones and teeth, support hormonal function and may be helpful with feminine disorders and mouth issues. It also contributes to healthy, wrinkle-free skin and thick, lustrous hair.


Dulse is purple-red in color, tender and chewy, with an unusual spicy taste. It goes well with soups, oats and other cooked grains, salads, and vegetables; it also combines well with onions and can be used as a condiment. Rinse dulse well to remove extra salt and the salty flavor.


Health Profile: Of all the sea vegetables, it is the richest in iron, while it also provides iodine, manganese (for enzyme production), phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, and trace minerals. Despite its salty taste, it is relatively low in sodium. With its high iron content, dulse is an excellent blood tonic and is used to strengthen the kidneys and adrenals. It is used to treat herpes, seasickness, and sore teeth and gums.


Kombu, a member of the kelp family (kelp can be substituted for kombu), is easy to use as a complementary ingredient in cooking, much as one would use herbs and spices. “Considered the most completely mineralized food,”13 it significantly boosts the nutritional quality of any dish to which it is added. Kombu enhances the flavor of foods because it is high in glutamic acid, the natural version of synthetic MSG. It adds sweetness, derived both from its glutamic acid and from fucose and mannitol, two simple sugars that do not raise blood sugar, which is a boon for diabetics.14 The glutamic acid in kombu also softens foods so that they cook more quickly and are easier to digest. Kombu is itself softened when cooked alongside other protein-rich foods.


Health Profile: Kombu is high in natural sugars, as well as potassium, iodine, calcium, and vitamins A, B-complex, C, and trace minerals. Kombu (a diuretic) particularly supports the kidneys, hormonal system, and the thyroid. It reduces cysts and tumors; subdues fungal and candida yeasts; treats coughs and asthma while relieving the lungs and throat; and aids in weight loss. Specifically, kombu is used to treat goiter, arthritis, high blood pressure, edema, prostate and ovarian issues, diabetes, and anemia.15


Besides glutamic acid, kombu is also high in alginic acid, the binding medium that holds sea vegetables together and gives them flexibility to withstand strong ocean currents. Its binding ability and indigestible nature act in the intestine to bind toxins in the colon wall for their natural excretion. Kombu is used in Eastern cultures to prevent and cure colitis.16


Due to its mild flavor and multiple uses—especially as the colorful wrap for sushi rolls, nori is the best known and most popular of the sea vegetables. Beyond sushi, nori can be toasted and then torn or crumpled to garnish grains, vegetables, and soup dishes. You do not have to have sushi rice prepared to make a nori roll—anything moist will do. I mix brown rice or quinoa with humus or yogurt; spread it over a nori sheet; add a layer of shredded carrots or other vegetables/fermented vegetables; roll; eat; and enjoy! The combinations are endless; use your imagination with whatever you have on hand.


Health Profile: Nori has the highest protein content (almost 50%) and is the easiest to digest of the sea vegetables. Nori also breaks down fats, so it helps in the digestion of fried, fatty foods. Perhaps most significant, nori is extremely low in iodine. If you want to consume sea vegetables for their many benefits but worry about iodine excess, nori is a wonderful choice. Nori is a good source of calcium, iron, vitamin A, B-complex, C, and D. Like other sea vegetables, nori benefits the kidneys and thyroid, treats goiter, edema, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coughs, and cysts.17


Wakame, the colorful counterpoint of miso soup, is a favorite in Japan, along with nori and kombu. Wakame is mild in flavor, and after soaking, it mixes well with cooling summer vegetables and citrus fruits. In cooking, it combines nicely with onions, other garden vegetables, and boiled or sauted greens. Alaria, another sea vegetable, can be substituted for wakame in many recipes. Like kombu, wakame softens beans and other fibrous foods, enhancing their digestibility and nutrition.


Health Profile: After hijiki, wakame is highest in calcium of the sea vegetables. It is also rich in iodine, iron, and vitamin A, B-complex, C, and trace minerals. Like kombu and other seaweeds, wakame contains alginic acid to bind and help the body expel toxic metals and radiation; it also dispels mucous and phlegm, while it is thought to dissolve masses and tumors.


Reading Resources:
Peter and Montse Bradford, Cooking with Sea Vegetables.
Shep Erhart and Leslie Cerier, Sea Vegetable Celebration.
Jill Gusman, Vegetables from the Sea: Everyday Cooking with Sea Vegetables
Elson Haas, Staying Healthy With Nutrition.
Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods.
Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.


Copyright 2011  Pathways4Healt.org

  1. Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, 306 []
  2. Potassium combines synergistically with sodium, iodine, and calcium to combat hypertension and support the elasticity of arterial walls…Dr Erick Powel, Ph.D., in Kelp, the Health Giver, 16-17. []
  3. Erhart and Cerier, 30 []
  4. Wood, 305 []
  5. Erhart and Cerier, 23 []
  6. Susun Weed, “Seaweed Is an Everyday Miracle.” []
  7. Pitchford, 581 []
  8. For numerous examples, see Erhart and Cerier []
  9. Erhart and Cerier, 23 []
  10. Elson Haas, Staying Healthy with Nutrition []
  11. Tim Aitken, L.Ac., Eight Branches Healing Arts []
  12. For more details, see Pitchford, Wood, Erhart and Cerier, Haas, and Bradford []
  13. Pitchford, 589 []
  14. Bradford, 60 []
  15. Pitchford, 589 []
  16. Bradford, 59 []
  17. Pitchford, 591 []

Sprouts for Health


Once any vibrant seed—a whole grain, legume, bean, nut, or seed—is soaked in enough water for long enough to breakdown its protective phytic acid, germination is started and soon a young plant is born.  In its earliest few days, the plant first unfolds as a sprout—a tender stem whose job it is to burrow through the soil to the sunlight before leaves begin to unfurl.


Sprouts vividly reveal the life force of a seed miraculously coming to life.  They are one of the most nutrient-dense foods imaginable; they detoxify the liver; support the immune system (T-cells); and, they are full of life force energy.   Sprouts are biogenic, alive foods that appear to pass their essence (RNA, DNA) as a live force when eaten (see below).1  Sprouts contain all the nutrients and energy to support a mature plant; when we eat sprouts, we acquire the essence of the mature plant, but without the bulk.  Growing sprouts in your home is easy to do in any season, but is especially timely in the spring after a diet of heavy, mucus-forming foods.


Sprouts and Health.  Shoots and sprouts are tender and loaded with nutrition to help support the plant on its journey to maturity:  When a seed sprouts, it starts quickly to develop a rich array of nutrients to support the mature plant that it is to become.  According to Steve Meyerowitz, who has devoted much of his life to the science of sprouting, in the first 5-10 days, young seedlings attain their greatest nutrient density; vitamins increase many-fold; and complex starches are broken down to make beans and grains more digestible.  (As a related point, sprouting can prevent allergies to wheat or other offending grains.)  According to Steve Meyerwitz, with the germination of a seed:


  1. “Nutrients are broken down—protein into amino acids, fats into essential fatty acids, starches to sugars, and minerals chelate or combine with protein in a way that increases their utilization.  This…increases nutrition and improves digestion and assimilation…the reason sprouts are considered predigested food.”
  2. “Proteins, vitamins, enzymes, minerals and trace minerals multiply from 300 to 1200 percent.  Chlorophyll develops in seeds that become green plants.  Certain acids and toxins that can interfere with digestion are reduced or eliminated.   Size and water content increase dramatically.”2


Ann Wigmore, an early pioneer in the science of sprouts and particularly wheatgrass, calls sprouts biogenic (alive) foods, to distinguish them from bioactive raw fruits and vegetables.  Biogenic foods—sprouted grains, beans, nuts and seeds—are able to transfer their life energy to us when we eat them.  This may shed light on why David Wetzel  of Green Pasture.org believes that first-growth spring grasses provide a stem-cell component that underlies the mysterious health benefits of X-factor butter oil.  (See January/February 2012 newsletter on vitamin D).


Working with Ann Wigmore, Viktoras Kulvinskas discovered that nucleic acids (think DNA, RNA), which are key elements of cell growth and regeneration, increase by as much as 30-fold through sprouting.   Kulvinskas, in his out-of-print, technical booklet, Sprout for the Love of Every Body, analyzed many of the health benefits of sprouts.  I want to quote some highlights, particularly to help any of you who may have health conditions and are thinking of using sprouts as a part of your therapy:


“The seed is a storehouse of food energy intended for early growth and development of the new plant.  The chemical changes that occur in the sprouting seed activate a powerful enzyme factory, never to be surpassed at a later stage of growth.  The sprouts are predigested foods.  The rich enzyme concentration can lead to heightened enzyme activity in your own body metabolism, thus leading to regeneration of the bloodstream.” (p.16)


“Wheat…in 3 days of sprouting doubles in weight and a very sweet tang is introduced.  Much of the original starch has been converted to natural sugars.  Grain becomes less mucus-forming after sprouting.  By the fourth day, gluten undergoes a qualitative change, becoming crumbly.” (pp. 21, 22)


“Because sprouts are predigested food, they have a higher biological efficiency value than whole seeds, raw or cooked.  Less food is required, yet more nutrients reach the blood and cells.  Sprouting increases the quality of proteins, likewise it removes the inhibitor factors [like phytic acid].  One of the easiest proteins to assimilate is chlorophyll.  The sprouting process, under the action of light, creates it.  Chlorophyll has been shown in many instances to be effective in overcoming protein-deficiency anemia.” (pp. 32, 33)


“Phytin is very frequently present in many seeds, hence eating a diet rich in seed, beside the high protein complications, can result in a tremendous loss of important minerals, in spite of the fact that seeds are rich sources of such minerals.  However, the mineral losses because of the high phytin concentration become insignificant if one sprouts the seeds.” (p. 40)


“Sprouted seeds are the best sources of natural chelates.  In the germination process, the complex proteins of seeds are broken down into amino acids.  The acids are hooked up to a mineral and a vitamin, forming a natural chelate, called an enzyme.  …seeds when sprouted are the highest natural source of enzymes, hence of chelated minerals.” (p. 42)


“Dr. Benjamin Frank, in Nucleic Acid Therapy in Agiing and Degenerative Disease, found that nucleic acids [DNA and RNA are the best known forms] within nuclei of all living cells can have a dramatic effect on aging.  Sprouts have a regenerating effect on the human body because of the high concentration of RNA, DNA protein, as well as other essential nutrients which can be found only in a living cell.” (p. 68-71)



Growing Sprouts—Counter-top sprouting.


Growing sprouts can be as simple or complex as you wish it to be.  You can purchase professional sprouting equipment such as vertical sprouters and sprout bags, or you can simply have fun with good seeds and a large jar fitted with a mesh top.


Counter-top sprouting can be done in any home and during any season. It requires no long-term commitment and makes no mess.  You need neither yard nor soil,  hoe nor gardening gloves.  All that is required is a large jar; a screened lid; good, organic sprouting seeds; water; and a few consecutive days when you can rinse, shake, and drain the sprouting seeds each morning and evening. This step keeps the seeds cool and moist.


Sprouting seeds takes a week or less. You may want to grow sprouts regularly; or you might prefer to dabble now and then, washing the jar and setting sprouting aside until you are once again in the mood. For children, growing sprouts in a jar on the countertop is a perfect first-growing adventure, one that can encourage eating greens, the major food missing from their diets.
The simple steps for sprouting are:


  • Put about 2 tablespoons of sorted, organic seeds, or ¼-½  cup grains, beans, or legumes in a clean two-quart jar fitted with a screen top (or a square of cheese cloth, nylon, or mosquito netting)  held in place by a canning jar ring, string, or strong rubber band.  This screened opening permits easy rinsing, draining, and air ventilation.  Use a one-gallon jar if you choose to sprout more seeds, though keep in mind that while 2 tablespoons looks like a small quantity of seeds, sprouts need plenty of space to grow and to prevent overcrowding.
  • Cover the seeds with plenty of filtered water that is free of chlorine, and let it sit overnight, or about 8 hours.  Some seeds require only 6 hours of soaking, while beans and grains with tough exteriors may benefit from a soak as long as 24-36 hours.  There are also mucilaginous seeds that require no soaking at all, although this may not be the best approach for sprouting seeds like this.  For more information on seeds and soaking times, you can refer  to www.sproutpeople.org.
  • At the end of the soaking period, and with the screened lid firmly in place, pour off and discard the water.
  • Cover the seeds with plenty of fresh water, swish them around inside the jar, and drain once again. Then turn the jar upside down and set it at an angle; a dish drainer works well for support.   Keep the seeds out of direct sunlight, though ordinary room light and indirect sunlight are both fine.  A room temperature of 60-70 degrees is ideal because growing sprouts produce heat.   Rinsing the sprouts morning and evening prevents them from overheating in a jar that traps heat; it also keeps the sprouts moist.   [If you grow sprouts in warmer temperatures, you may want to give them cooling baths more frequently than twice a day.]
  • Repeat the above step twice a day, morning and evening, for several days, until the seeds are well-sprouted and, if applicable, starting to turn green (not all sprouts are green in maturity).
  • When you are ready to harvest your sprouts (grains are sweetest and beans/legumes have the highest protein levels after just 2-3 days; greens need longer in order to develop chlorophyll), rinse them and then pour them onto a towel to air dry.  Place dry sprouts in a covered container, lined with a paper towel, and refrigerate.  They should keep for a week or more and can be used in salads and sandwiches, or for juicing.


Note:   Because sprouts are cleansing and detoxifying, they may work less well for older people in the “winter, drying-out” phase of life.  At age 64, I find I need a good complement of sweet round and root vegetables plus good fats and oils in all seasons of the year, and I must consume sprouts sparingly.


Reading Resources:

Viktoras Kulvinskas, Sprouts for the Love of Every Body

Steve Meyerwitz, Sprouts, The Complete Guide to Sprouting; www.sproutman.com

Ann Wigmore, The Sprouting Book; The Wheatgrass Book


Copyright 2012, Pathways4Health.org


  1. Ann Wigmore, The Sprouting Book, v, 6, 15, 16. []
  2. Steve Meyerowitz, Sprouts, The Complete Guide to Sprouting, 93. []

Cod Liver Oil

“There is hardly a disease in the books that does not respond well to cod liver oil, and not just infectious diseases but also chronic modern diseases like heart disease and cancer.”1


Fermented cod liver oil is my favorite source of vitamin D because you need very little, it is easy to store, and it needs no preparation.   Fermented cod liver oil is naturally balanced with vitamin D’s vital partner, vitamin A.   Cod liver oil also contains health-supporting quinines, EPA (for inflammatory response) and DHA (for brain and neurological function), and omega-3,-6,-7, and -9 oils.  A teaspoon or two over breakfast along with X-Factor butter oil (which provides vitamin K2) works well for me.   Also, for people with an aversion to its taste, fermented cod liver oil comes both in flavors and capsule form and can be taken with orange juice to blunt any aftertaste.


Fermented cod liver oil that is made in accordance with tradition often contains ten times the vitamin A relative to vitamin D, but the amount of A to D is inconsistent; these amounts vary according to the diet of the specific catch and the season (summer cod livers have more oil than those taken in winter and are less potent—the less oil in a liver, the more potent the oil).


Fermented cod liver oil should not be confused with commercial brands that are cleaned and deodorized using alkali refining, bleaching, and deodorization.    Because people often buy cod liver as a source of EPA and DHA, some deodorized brands do not bother to add back lost vitamins, and hence have low levels of vitamin A and no vitamin D.  Such a product can lead to vitamin A toxicity if over-consumed.  Other brands—the majority of cod liver oils sold—are cleaned and deodorized, and synthetic vitamins A and D are added back after processing.  When labels contain exact levels of vitamins A and D, it is a sign that they fit this latter category.  Read labels carefully.  Traditional cod liver oils, such as Green Pastures; Radiant Life; and Dr. Ron’s UltraPure, may not list vitamin A and D levels.   This  can be a good sign, indicating that it is a natural product created without commercial processing and the addition of synthetic, measureable forms of vitamins A and D.


While dosage recommendations can vary, a dose of high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil is generally half that of regular cod liver oil.  Guidelines provided by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig of the Weston A. Price Foundation are as follows:


  • Children aged 3 month to 12 years:  ½ teaspoon, providing approximately 4,650 IU vitamin A and 975 IU vitamin D;
  • Children over 12 years and adults:  1 teaspoon or 10 capsules, providing 9,500 IU vitamin A and 1950 IU vitamin D;
  • Pregnant and nursing women:  2 teaspoons or 20 capsules, providing 19,000 IU of vitamin A and 3900 IU vitamin D.2


All cod liver oils in the United States are tested for contaminants like mercury, cadmium, lead, and PCBs by the Association of Analytical Communities.  Mercury, which is water soluble, is not a concern.  It may be present in the flesh of fish but it is not contained in fish oil.3

Why don’t we hear more about cod liver oil?  Per capita cod liver oil consumption is less than one-twentieth that of our parents’ or grandparents’ generation.4


Cod liver oil has gone out of style, perhaps because we can now purchase vitamin D supplements, and perhaps, too, because we eat food more for pleasure than for health—with broad-based medical coverage, it is easy to leave the rest to doctors and drugs.  Another very important reason that cod liver oil has fallen from favor is that it has no large constituency of support.  Unlike synthetic drugs that can be patented and sold for multiples of their production costs, cod liver oil is a food, with little profit-generating power.


While naturally-produced cod liver oil has no broad constituency, its cause has been taken up by the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), a not-for-profit organization, to further the pioneering work of Weston Price.  In addition, cod liver oil has devoted people like David Wetzel who, through his non-profit company Green Pastures.org, produces traditional fermented cod liver oil and X-Factor butter oils.  These are nutrient-dense products for optimal health that provide the important vitamins D, A, and Activator-X (vitamin K2) dietary factors discovered by Dr. Weston A. Price in his surveys of healthy, robust traditional cultures around the globe during the 1920s and 1930s (see Nutrition and Physical Degeneration).  It is hard to think of anything that delivers so much for so little.


Copyright 2011 Pathways4Health.org

  1. Krispin Sullivan, “Cod Liver Oil:  Number One Super Food.”  Weston A Price Foundation.org. []
  2. Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, “Cod Liver Oil Basics and Recommendations.” WAPF. []
  3. Krispin Sullivan, “Cod Liver Oil:  Number One Super Food.” WAPF. []
  4. The United States imported five million gallons of cod liver oil in 1927, but less than half a million gallons in 2000, a figure that must then be adjusted for population growth. []

Fats–A “Feel Good” Macronutrient

The foods that protect us against depression and help us engage in low time-preference, future-oriented activities are the same foods that traditional cultures valued for good health.  They provide vitamins A and D, calcium, and arachidonic acid in abundance.  See February 2011 “Attuned to Winter”

Cod liver oil
vitamins A and D
Butter from grass-fed animalsarachidonic acid, vitamins A and D
Egg yolks from grass-fed chickensarachidonic acid, vitamins A and D
Fats from grass-fed animalsarachidonic acid, vitamins A and D
Organ meats from grass-fed animalsarachidonic acid, vitamns A and D
Bone brothscalcium
Fish eggsvitamins A and D
Small whole fish (herbivores)calcium, vitamins A and D
Shell fishvitamins A and D

Strengthening Foods from Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine, all treatments ultimately aim at either tonifying Yin (fluids) or Yang (fire) or diminishing excessive Yin or Yang.

Qi and Yang tonics work in pairs…for the spleen and kidneys. Qi tonics nourish the spleen/stomach and digestion. Yang tonics help create heat and digestive fire, which addresses chronic fatigue, sugar cravings, and when feeling cold.  Pair Qi and Yang foods to foster heat for individuals with cold digestion and cold conditions.

Blood and yin tonics work in pairs to promote fluids (particularly appropriate in conditions of excess heat and/or dryness).

Qi and Blood nourish each other.   Qi warms, protects, transforms, while blood nourishes and moistens.


Beef, cherry, chicken, coconut, date, fig, ginseng, goose, grape, lentil, licorice, micro-algae, molasses, oats, potato, rice, royal jelly, sweet potato, shitake mushroom, squash, tofu, tempeh, yam


Basil, chestnut, cinnamon bark, clove, dill seed, fennel seed, fenugreek seed, garlic, ginger (dried), kidney, lamb, lobster, nutmeg, raspberry, rosemary, sage, savory, shrimp, star anise, thyme, walnut


Aduki bean, apricot, beef, beetroot, bone marrow, chicken egg, dandelion, dark leafy greens, date, dandelion, dang quai, fig, grape, kidney beans, liver, micro-algai, nettle, oyster, parsley, sardine, spinach, sweet rice, watercress.


Apple, asparagus, cheese, chicken egg, clam, crab, duck, honey kidney bean, lemon, malt, mango, milk, oyster, pear, pineapple, pomegranate, pork, rabbit, string bean, tempeh, tomato, watermelon, yam.


Qi Circulation

Basil, caraway, cardamom, carrot, cayenne, chive, clove, coriander, dill seed, garlic, marjoram, orange peel, radis, star anise, turmeric


Blood Circulation Amasake, eggplant, chestnut, chili pepper, chive, crab, hawthorn berry, onion, peach, scallion, vinegar


Disturbed Shen (Qi and Blood deficient, Qi & Yang def; Blood stagnation; phlegm).  Brown rice, cucumber, apples, cabbage, wheat germ, kudzu, wild blue-green algae, apple cider vinegar.


Foods to Strengthen Organ Systems


According to Chinese Five-Phase Theory,  the organs systems of the body are associated with seasonal energies, colors, foods, and emotions and moods.  Consuming too much or too little of a food associated with an organ system, or its “mother” or “controlling” element can lead to imbalance.  See Five Phase Theory.  The interrelationships outlined in Five-Phase Theory are another way to approach the general concept of balance and harmony.  Based on centuries of careful observation by traditional Chinese healers, these relationships offer much wisdom, particularly as we study them over time.


Carrots, cinnamon twig, button mushrooms, duck, garlic, ginger, ginseng, grapes, onion, honey, licorice, olives, pears, peppermint.



Egg yolk, cinnamon twig, mung beans, red pepper, adzuki beans, saffron watermelon, wheat.




Barley, black soybean, carrot, chestnuts, chicken, cinnamon bark, clove, cucumber, dates, dill, fig, garlic, ginger, grape, grapefruit peel, fennel, honey, kelp, licorice, lamb, mung beans, nutmeg, olives, pear, rice, shitake mushrooms, squash, string beans, sweet basil, wett ice, wheat.




Black sesame seeds, black soybedan, caraway seed, chestnuts, egg yolk, chives, cinnamon bark, cloves, dill, duck, fennel, grape, grapefruit peel, lamb, plums, anise, string beans, walnuts, wheat.



Black sesame seeds, celery, chicory, chives, corn silk, crab, leek, peppermint, plum, saffron, anise, vinegar, lemons.


Small Intestine:

Adzuki beans, salt


Large Intestine:

Black pepper, Chinese cabbage, corn, cucumber, fig, honey, lettuce, nutmeg, rice bran, salt, sweet basil, yellow soybean.



Cinnamon bark, cinnamon twig, fennel, grapefruit peel (tea), watermelon, corn silk


Gall Bladder:

Chicory, corn silk


Source:  Healthy Living Center and Pathways4Health.org

Mushrooms as Tonics

Mushrooms…Tonics For Energy, Immunity, and to Help Relieve Chronic Disease

Mushrooms, unlike other plants that are rich in chlorophyll that use sunlight to create food, live on organic matter, such as decaying trees and plant matter.  Because mushrooms scavenger for decaying matter, they act in an associated way in the body to draw out toxins, including excess mucus and blood triglycerides.


Mushrooms are low in calories and high in vegetable proteins, as well as being packed with such nutrients as iron, zinc, fiber, amino acids and a variety of vitamins and minerals.  The medical mushrooms described below contain polysaccharides that have strong anti-viral properties, stimulate the immune system, and inhibit the growth of tumors.  Mushrooms contain glutamic (similar to MSG) to enrich and complement with a hearty flavor many foods.

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Chinese and Western Tonic Herbs

Mushrooms are low in calories and high in vegetable proteins, as well as being packed with such nutrients as iron, zinc, fiber, amino acids and a variety of vitamins and minerals.  The medical mushrooms described below contain polysaccharides that have strong anti-viral properties, stimulate the immune system, and inhibit the growth of tumors.

Astragalus…for energy and resistance to colds, flu, fatigue and disease.  Helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, and especially good for the respiratory system.  Boosts white blood cells for fighting disease.  Contains 19 amino acids, flavonoids, folic acid, and trace minerals, including selenium.Codonposis…for energy and to support digestion and metabolism.


Don Quai…a blood tonic.  Endocrine imbalances, headaches, pain from surgery and traumatic injury.  Helps control candida.  And aid in cancer therapy.  High in B vitamin.


Goji Berries…anti-aging, boosts the immune system, for healing and stamina.  Great anti-oxidant…richest source of  carotenoids.


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