chinese dietary therapy & herbalism
Chinese Dietary Therapy and Herbalism
Chinese medicine is a medicine of energetics. It is concerned with our energetic body and our Qi (energy). All branches of Chinese medicine work primarily with Qi and Chinese Nutrition, also known as 'Dietary Therapy', is no different. Dietary Therapy follows a Chinese medicine diagnosis of the individual based on one or more energetic 'patterns of disharmony'.
In the West, food is often assessed based on its nutritional value and structure, taking into account the amount of protein, fat and calories it contains. In Chinese medicine however, food is assessed on its energetic properties and how these affect the body.
The four major energetic characteristics of food in Traditional Chinese medicine are:
5 Thermal Natures:
All foods are assigned to a thermal nature in TCM: cold, cool, neutral, warm, hot. Note that it is not related to the physical temperature of the food, but to the sensation our body feels after consumption of certain food. For example, watermelon is cold, cucumber is cool, potato is neutral, beef is warm, and chili is hot.
This concept is closely related to Five Element Theory. Each food is associated with a flavor, which implies certain functions. Sweet: tonify (similar to strengthening), moisten, calm; Acrid: disperse, invigorate, warm; Salty: cool, soften, loosen; Sour: astringe, gather, preserve; Bitter: dry, harden, cool
4 Food Qi Movements:
Food can influence how Qi moves throughout our body! And the movement of Qi will then influence how we feel and how our organs function. Qi can move Upwards: hot/warm, yang-replenishing foods, usually spicy or sweet; Downwards: cool/cold, yin-nourishing foods, usually salty or bitter; Inwards: sour foods, usually sour (think about a baby’s “sour” face after tasting a lemon); Outwards: acrid yang foods, usually warming spices
This is a more complicated concept that is mostly used in the clinical setting. Each food can be associated with several meridians. Here is a very general and not- always-accurate categorization. Spleen/Stomach: sweet flavor, late summer foods; Lung/Large Intestine: acrid or spicy flavor, autumn foods; Kidney/Bladder: salty flavor, winter foods; Liver/Gallbladder: sour, flavor spring foods; Heart/Small Intestine: bitter flavor, summer foods.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbalism
Chinese dietary therapy is different from Chinese herbalism.
Whereas food therapy focuses on a long-term, diet-based approach to health, herbalism involves the creation and administration of potent herbal decoctions for specific health related conditions or imbalances.
Herbal decoctions are a natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs. They are based on centuries of knowledge and due to their natural plant components are readily accepted by the body and any side effects are very rare.
Individual Body Constitution and Conditions
Chinese dietary therapy takes a personalised approach. No two people are the same but there are similiar traits among people with particular constitutions.
It therefore encourages you to eat according to your own body constitution and health conditions, rather than following the recommended daily value of protein, calories and fat.
There are nine body constitutions in TCM, and each deserves a slightly different approach to diet and lifestyle. You can test yours by taking an online constitution test.
For example, winter melon is great for a person with Yin Deficiency because of its cooling and hydrating properties, but ginger is not ideal for that person because it can easily create too much heat in their body. On the other hand, temporary health conditions like catching a cold after a freezing rainy day may allow and ask a Yin-deficient person to consume ginger shot to expel the cold and dampness invasion.
If you would like to know more please avail of our free consultation where we will be happy to discuss your individual dietary requirements and what food types or herbal remedies would suit your health requirements best.
Good Health Starts with healthy food choices. Book Today, avail of our free consultation and discover how Chinese dietary therapy and herbalism can help you stay healthy.