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Spring Kicharee: Chinese Healing Herbs for Hypothyroidism and Weight Loss

In health care since 1977, but keenly aware of Western medicine's shortcomings, Rose Mary began exploring natural health in the late 1990s.

Spring kicharee is a soup or porridge-like dish that has an abundance of healing herbs and spices. In Chinese medicine, it is good for “wood types” who tend to be warriors, adventurers, and pioneers. Hypertension is common with wood types. In Chinese medicine, the kicharee is also good for resolving “dampness.” Dampness in the body is associated with fatigue, excess weight, sinus infections and unclear thinking.

Spring Kicharee

Spring Kicharee with barley, lentils, split peas, millet, kale, mushrooms, broccoli, arame seaweed, burdock root and dandelion root

Spring Kicharee with barley, lentils, split peas, millet, kale, mushrooms, broccoli, arame seaweed, burdock root and dandelion root

How I Heard About Spring Kicharee

I heard about the spring kicharee and its benefits around 2007 in an online article I read. The article, "Thyroid Disease: A Natural/Herbal Perspective," was an interview of Shasta Tierra-Tayam, L.Ac. by Mary Shoman. Mary Shoman suffers from thyroid disease and has become an advocate, has written books, and writes the thyroid information for multiple websites including her own. If you have thyroid disease, I strongly recommend you read Mary’s interview. I also highly recommend her book, Living Well with Hypothyroidism, which I found to be a great resource with lots of useful links and references. She has also written on hyperthyroidism.

Shasta Tierra-Tayam is a natural medicine practitioner licensed as a primary care provider. She uses Acupuncture, Acupressure, Nutrition, and Clinical Herbology in her practice. Among her specialties for practice and teaching are hypothyroidism and women’s health. Among her academic credentials are lecturing in Chinese medicine at the Center for Integrative Medicine at O’Connor Hospital. She also studied under her father, Dr. Michael Tierra, O.M.D., L.Ac., author of multiple books.

Dr. Tierra-Tayam’s Guidance on the Kicharee

Dr. Tierra-Tayam recommends the spring kicharee from the book Herbal Healing Secrets of the Orient, written by Darlena L’Orange, L.Ac., her father’s student. The recipe was taught to her father by yogi Baba Hari Das. Dr. Tierra related that L’Orange took the recipe and added herbs and vegetables for each season and element type. I only saw four kicharee recipes in the book however: Basic, Spring, Autumn, and Winter.

Dr. Tierra-Tayam recommends the spring kicharee for “all of my patients who want to lose weight.” She recommends eating the kicharee at least 3 times a day for 7 to 14 days, describing it as a tonifying cleanse. Eat it with steamed or sautéed vegetables. You can also eat it with a little meat protein. Expect cravings to change, energy to increase, and dampness to come off. The turmeric, cumin, and coriander aid digestion and increase metabolism. The beans are a diuretic. She reports “most of my patients lose 7 to 10 pounds in 7 to 10 days while eating plenty of food!” Dr. Tierra-Tayam recommends patients take Planetary Formulas Triphala or Triphala-Garcinia formula with the Bupleurum Liver Cleanse while doing the spring kicharee cleanse.

Maintenance Plan After the Kicharee

After the Spring Kicharee, Dr. Tierra-Tayam suggests following the Eat Right for Your Type plan by Dr. Peter D’Adamo from his book of the same name. Then in 3 to 4 weeks, do the kicharee cleanse again with the spring kicharee or one of the other kicharees (based on your season or element), to lose another 5 to 10 pounds.

I bought D’Adamo’s book and followed the plan when I was in graduate school. Food recommendations are based on the four basic blood types and indicate whether you are a meat eater, whether you should avoid grains, etc.

Finding Sources With the Recipe

I have purchased 2 copies of Herbal Healing Secrets of the Orient though the Amazon sellers. It is out of publication as far as I can tell. Dr. L’Orange has another book, Ancient Roots, Many Branches. It seems to be very different from Healing Secrets, so I presume it does not have the recipe. In the video below, Dr. Michael Tierra says his daughter Shasta has written several books on kicharee, which I did not find on Amazon or Dr. Michael Tierra’s website. I did however find his article, “Kichari, Food of the Gods,” which has several kicharee recipes, but not the spring kicharee. I did an internet search and did not find the spring kicharee recipe either. I am therefore including the recipe here. If anyone comes across a website with Dr. L’Orange’s recipe, please let me know and I will link to it. I will also remove the recipe here if offensive to any of the parties.

What If You Can’t Find All the Ingredients?

Dr. L’Orange encourages that you make the kicharee even if you can’t find every ingredient. I think I was ultimately able to find everything. I could not find fresh burdock root, so ordered dry. I finally found asafetida, but it was a large expensive amount, and the recipe called for a pinch, so I chose not to get it. Later I found it at a health food store that sold it by weight, and I just got a small amount. If you leave out a few ingredients, don’t fret, as my massage therapist friend said, “There’s lots of mojo in there.”

In my most recent version of spring kicharee, I used a barley, yellow split pea, and lentil mix that I had in the pantry. I thought I was using quinoa, but when it cooked up I didn't see those little thready loops, so I think it must have been millet. Also I did not have dandelion greens, so I used some baby kale that I had.

Bowl of Spring Kicharee, Loaded With Healing Herbs

Try adding a little lemon juice for brightness, or a little Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar.

Try adding a little lemon juice for brightness, or a little Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar.

Spring Kicharee Ingredients

  • 10 cups spring water
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup French green lentils, or mung beans
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp canola oil or ghee
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 burdock root, thinly sliced
  • 2 parsnips, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup dandelion greens, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp dry dandelion root
  • 3 slices fresh ginger, ½” thick
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp nettles
  • 1/3 cup Arame seaweed
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 ½ tsp coriander powder
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin
  • Dash of black or white pepper
  • Dash of cayenne
  • Pinch of asafetida
  • Sea salt, Bragg’s amino acids, or tamari to taste

Pot of Spring Kicharee

Kicharee recipe makes about 4 or 5 quarts

Kicharee recipe makes about 4 or 5 quarts

Instructions for Making the Kicharee

  1. Rinse the grains thoroughly.
  2. Sauté garlic, onion, and burdock in oil or ghee in a soup pot or stockpot.
  3. Add turmeric, coriander, cumin, asafetida, and mustard seed. Continue to sauté until seeds begin to pop.
  4. Add water, beans, grains, arame, dandelion root, and ginger.
  5. Simmer 50 to 60 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add mushrooms, parsnips, parsley, and nettles.
  7. Simmer 25 to 30 minutes. Add another cup of water if needed.
  8. Add broccoli, cilantro, dandelions, and pepper.
  9. Stir and cover. Simmer 10 to 12 minutes.
  10. For creamier texture, remove 2 cups soup, and puree. Mix blended portion back into kicharee.
  11. Add salt, aminos, or tamari, to taste.

Talk to Your Health-Care Provider

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You take full legal responsibility for whatever decisions you make regarding you own health care. Consult your health care provider. As my massage therapist friend says, this soup has lots of powerful mojo.

Dr. Michael Tierra: Kicharee Discussion Starts at 7 Minutes

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2010 rmcrayne


morovian on July 07, 2014:

A little confused...this is a cleansing diet and the recipe calls for Canola oil (or ghee). Canola oil is one of the worst poisons you can put in your body. Stick with the ghee and don't advocate canola oil, ever...for health's sake.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on May 29, 2010:

Sounds like we agree Norwin.

NorwinGalle from USA on May 28, 2010:

Nice hub.I tried this recipe and really great.Spring Kicharee is a thick soup rich in Chinese healing herbs and spices, and ideal for wood types and pulling out dampness.Also beneficial for hypothyroidism and weight loss.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on March 09, 2010:

Good luck Lily! I doubt you're going to find a provider in your insurance plan though. I've been paying out of pocket for 3+ years now.

Lily Rose from A Coast on March 07, 2010:

Thank you RM! I'm going to check out that website and also see if I can find the type of doctor you recommend on my health insurance plan. Thanks again - you're always so thorough when I ask you a question! I look forward to your next!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on March 05, 2010:

Thanks Paradise and Sandy for visiting. Enjoy the healing magic of the kicharee.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on March 05, 2010:

Good for you LR on reading Mary! Your next assignment is to devour Dr. Rind’s website,, the endocrine/metabolic section. He’s okay for an MD (actually I’m thinking he’s a DO). If you’re looking for an enlightened MD, that’s your first problem. Dr. Tierra is a L.Ac. I suggest a Naturopath or Homeopath. You could even do like I did, and start with a chiropractor that does Applied Kinesiology and prescribes Standard Process supplements. I used to take Synthroid too, but decided I have enough synthetics in my system, time to purge them. Please see my contest/HubMob hub on Applied Kinesiology. Look at what I said about T3. If you study Dr. Rind’s site, I think you’ll come to the conclusion that TSH alone (w/o T4 and T3 levels) is irrelevant.

I only made the Kicharee one time, and did not eat it multiple times a day. I’m certainly not happy about my poundage, but am most concerned about my general health. I put on 10-15 lbs recently because I got lazy on taking my supplements, including things to support my thyroid. I’ve been doing the supplements for 3 ½ years, and it’s a lot of stuff, a lot of organizing each week. As a result, I’ve had more reflux issues, skin, knee etc.

I haven’t really prioritized losing weight yet, because when my endocrine function is off, my weight remains static, no matter how much or little I eat, so why stress and put forth the effort, know what I mean? Have you considered trying Mary Shoman’s Thyroid Diet? I have the book but haven’t really studied it yet. I’m thinking about reviewing it next week for the contest. My doctor (naturopath) recommends the Eat Right for Your [Blood] Type diet. I did it in graduate school about 12 years ago and it did work. There are 3 adults in the household now, me, my sister and my stepbrother. Would you believe we all have different blood types?!

So I wrote 3 books here in response!

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on March 04, 2010:

Thanks for the recipe.

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on March 04, 2010:

Terrific, thank you! Another recipe for my hubpages recipe book!

Lily Rose from A Coast on March 04, 2010:

Interesting, Rosemary! I got and read (most of) Shomon's book at your recommendation to me a while ago. I recently even paid an annual fee for full membership to her newsletter, etc. I have yet to figure out how to find a practitioner in my area that specializes in hypothyroidism like Dr. Tierra-Tayam that you mention above.

I have to ask - did the Kicharee work for you? I may have to try it. I actually tried - out of desperation - doubling up on my Synthroid recently but did not like how I was feeling so went back to my regular dose which seems to be normalizing my TSH, but not helping with weight loss at all! I lost 10 pounds with NS and now I'm plateauing for the last few weeks.

Wow, sorry I've written a book here!

Just noticed this is hub #100 for you - congrats!!