The official start of the Tibetan New Year is this Friday, 16th February. The first month of the Tibetan year marks the early spring season, and this time of year is also known in Tibet as "phlegm manifestation season".
This may be no surprise to those of you, who, like me, are suffering with more than a little phlegm at the moment. So how do Tibetan people explain this phenomenon?
Tibetan medicine sees a mirror between what is happening at this time of year externally and what is happening internally in our own bodies. As the earth starts to warm up, and the sun begins to melt the glaciers, so phlegm, frozen during winter, begins to melt and produce humidity, which produces phlegmatic symptoms in the body.
The bad news is that direct sunlight not only doesn't help, but can actually increase the accumulation of phlegm and exacerbate its symptoms. Spring sunshine is beautiful, and the desire to bask in it is strong, but apparently we should stick to the shade during early springtime.
As for our diet, in order to keep the mind and body in balance, we need to be mindful of what we eat at this time of year. According to Tibetan medicine, we should be consuming lots of bitter, pungent and astringent foods during this season. Think tofu and lentils (astringent), leafy greens (bitter), and chilli peppers, ginger and cinnamon (pungent). Turmeric is a spice that is bitter, astringent and pungent all in one! You can find all of the above ingredients in our food at the market this week. Don't say we don't cover all bases!
Finally, keep moving! This helps to keep the phlegm moving inside the body: we don't want it to become stagnant. So come on down this Wednesday to Gloucester Green market for all your bitter, pungent and astringent food needs.
And move again! We will be at our pop up at Silvie Bakery Cafe on Thursday as usual too, so if one fix is not enough...
Stay well, and see you this week, locations and times as below:
Gloucester Green Market
Wednesdays, 9am-4pm, Gloucester Green, Oxford OX1 2BU
Taste Tibet @ Silvie
Thursdays 6.30pm-9.30pm, Silvie Bakery Cafe, 281 Iffley Road, Oxford OX4 4AQ