The healing powers of Chinese medicine

Ahead of her talk at Dublin’s Chinese New Year Festival, herbalist Lei Xue explains how the Irish could benefit from the preventative and curative potential of Chinese medicine

Today marks the beginning of Dublin's Chinese New Year Festival, which runs until 4 March. As part of a fascinating series of lunchtime talks on Chinese culture, qualified acupuncturist and associated herbalist Lei Xue will share insights into how Chinese medicine could be the answer to your healthcare woes. The talk on 2 March focuses on how to preserve your health with preventative foods and medicines, and located in the Asia Market on Drury Street, it is the ideal location to stock up on healthful ingredients.

Lei, what will your talk involve?

At the talk I will briefly introduce Chinese medicine. I will be talking about food as medicine. Chinese medicine is used to treat problems but it is also a preventative medicine, you can use food, herbs and tea to promote and preserve health, and prevent from getting diseases. In my clinic I talk to my patients about what kind of foods they can introduce to their diet and avoid to feel better, and also some lifestyle advice as well. Yes some of the foods might usually be difficult to find in Ireland, but that’s the idea of having the event in the Asian Market.

What differentiates Chinese medicine from conventional medicine?

For example we would treat a disease like diabetes very differently. When people get a disease like diabetes it can come from completely different routes. Each person is different so we look at the individuals. An easy way to see your health is to look at the tongue. I will show people the different things to check on the tongue, the colour, the coating, and what kind of food that can help this type of tongue. If they have a lot of white coating on their tongue than it can mean that they have a lot of coldness in their system then what kind of food would be good for this kind of problems.

What do you encounter most with your Irish clients?

What I have noticed is that a lot of people here because of the weather, they usually have some problems with their digestive system. Typically they have what is referred to as a dampness. The damp weather we have here can affect the inner workings of the body. Excessive drinking or eating a lot of dairy products affects the digestive system by introducing dampness as well.

How would that be treated in Chinese medicine?

There are some good foodstuffs for Chinese medicine to expel the dampness. One item you will find in most health food stores is adzuki beans. The other thing is called Chinese pearl barley, it’s slightly different to the barley you get in a supermarket here, those things are excellent for expelling dampness from the system. Yam is another ingredient you encounter a lot in Chinese medicine, it is used to boost the digestive and lung energy.

What would you tell someone who is feeling tired and sluggish?

Especially this time of the year a lot of people come to the clinic and complain a lot about tiredness. I think that is down to the change in season. In China, most people would live according to the season. In the winter we would stay more still, not exercise too much or sweat a lot to produce our energy inside. Then in the spring we will have more energy. But here it doesn’t seem to make much difference. In the winter people would still go to the gym a lot and have sun holidays which would consume their energy in the winter whereas we think then you should preserve energy. That’s why I tend to see people with low energy, flus and colds during the change of season. I have noticed have a lot of people have Qi deficiency. We have a way in Chinese medicine where we diagnose the tongue, we look at the tongue and you can see they have slightly swollen tongue and it has a coating, and that’s a sign of dampness and Qi deficiency.

What are you looking forward to about the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival?

There are a lot of Chinese people in Ireland and we should celebrate that community and this gives us the chance to do that and to really bond. It’s also good to have an event like this to help Irish people and those here from other countries to get to know China.

Lei Xue will speak the Asia Market, 18 Drury Street Dublin 2 from 1pm-2pm on 3 March. Ticket price costs €15 which includes a light lunch. Book at

The festival celebrating Chinese New Year 2018, the Year of the Dog will take place over 17 days from 16 February to 4 March. For the full Dublin Chinese New Year Festival programme visit

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