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July 24, 2010

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Goat meat festival celebrates ancient tonic

GOAT meat is renowned for its yang warming qualities, as well as its tonic effect for men, and these days the Zhuanghang Town Goat Meat Festival sees guys gulping down bowls of goat meat while sipping strong rice wine in the hot summer.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, goat meat has lots of yang (hot) energy and thus can strengthen weak constitutions and nourish yin (cold energy) for both men and women.

But for men, goat is particularly good.

Many people, however, hold the view that eating hot yang energy goat in the hot summer is harmful to health, because it generates excessive internal fire, resulting in nose bleeds or mouth sores.

Wu Yingen, famed TCM master and professor from Longhua Hospital attached to the Shanghai University of TCM, says goat meat is good to eat in every season -- in moderation and not too spicy.

"The essence, the most important and basic principle of TCM is to foster yang in spring and summer, while nourishing yin in autumn and winter," he says.

Yang is a very vague and broad concept in TCM, referring to things that are full of energy, such as the sky, the sun, the fire, the southern direction, the upper side, males, and many other things.

Yin usually means things that are soft and dark, such as the soil, the moon, water, the northern direction, bottom side of something, females and many others.

"Too much yang or too much yin is harmful. TCM stresses balance and harmony," the master says.

In hot sultry summer, people are more likely to lose yang energy by sweating. Ancient people described summer as a giant boiling steamer, hot on the top and wet/sultry underneath.

"So fostering enough yang energy is necessary in summer," Wu says. "Enough yang can help clear the blood vessels and inject power."

An infusion of yang energy can help relieve blood stasis (poor circulation), some heart problems and menstrual irregularities.

"A very good way to supplement yang is to eat goat meat in summer," says the master. "The healthy heat caused by the goat lasts into the winter to help combat seasonal yin or cold energy."

Eating goat meat can also help expel toxins, especially when combined with drinking strong liquor such as baijiu (white liquor) or Chinese distilled alcoholic beverage.

"But the goat should still be light and bland to remove body dampness, and it should be an occasional supplement to means to reach internal balance," the TCM master advises.


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