Oketsu: How ‘Dirty Blood’ Damages Health (and what you can do)
How I rid my body of oketsu, or “dirty blood,” through diet and exercise.
Toward the end of my recent trip to Japan last month, I was suffering from neck pain. The pain was so severe that I couldn’t even move it.
I massaged it myself, did lots of stretching, kept it warm with my new indigo scarf, but wasn’t seeing much improvement. Part of me knew the reason. My pain was due my binge eating and drinking on my trip! (Hey, I was in the country with the world’s best food!).
Then came the highlight of my trip: rice harvesting at an organic farm in the northern part of Japan. It was such an intense labor, killing my back and causing soreness all over the body. Above all, I was sweating like hell even though it was mostly cloudy and not that hot.
Then at the end of the day, I realized, “Oh my gosh! I can move my neck! And there’s no pain!”.
Eastern medicine says that the root cause of any disease is “dirty blood” or “Oketsu” in Japanese. When there is a pain, there is always Oketsu stuck in there.
In modern medicine, you can say that’s acidic blood, or blood lacking oxygen and nutrients). Acidic blood – also called acidosis – is mainly caused by acid-forming food such as sugar, dairy and other animal foods, processed food additives and alcohol, as well as over-eating and drinking in general. Aside from the meat, that describes my behavior the last several weeks in Japan to a T! You must know how delicious and beautiful Japanese sweets are. I have no craving for overly sugary American pastries, even vegan ones, but Japanese ones? Irresistible!
Clearly, this intense labor and sweating helped get the oketsu, the dirty blood, out of my system, and my neck pain was finally relieved. All I was eating on that farm were the super delicious (and healthy!) meals prepared by local elderly women, using lots of local vegetables and grains.
In this small farming village, many elderlies are healthy and active, some in their 80s and even 90s are still working on the farm – it’s a real life Blue Zone! I cannot imagine how they can do it.
Along with healthy eating (lots of rice, miso soup, local vegetables and fruits), this physical labor out in nature with a good amount of sweating, must be one of the keys to their health and longevity. Their life style has no place for oketsu !
Here are the lessons I learned:
When you are in pain or sick and want to recover quickly, get rid of dirty blood (oketsu) by…
1. Minimizing acid-forming foods, or just temporarily eating and drinking less.
2. Exercising, with a good amount of sweating, which is equally important for your overall health to flush out oketsu and bring in healthy blood.
For sweating, it doesn’t have to be a spin class at Equinox, but any physical labor such as cleaning, sweeping, mopping, etc would be good. Ideally, of course, getting out into nature and soaking in the sun. Activities like hiking, gardening, or even mowing in your backyard are all helpful.
Now I really appreciate the labor involved in rice-producing so much that I can’t leave waste one grain of rice! I’m waiting for the organic brown rice I harvested to be shipped to my home in NYC!
Please remember: we’re bloggers, not doctors! Please see your health care practitioner before beginning any supplementation program.
Image Credit: Bar Food photo via Shutterstock