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.
For example, the fact that a banana is high in potassium, with fibre and vitamins C and B6 is of little relevance to a traditional Chinese medical practitioner, as these concepts do not form a part of the medical framework in which he or she is working. A Chinese medicine practitioner will view the Cold and Sweet aspects of the banana and it's ability to nourish Yin, as more relevant. This makes it an ideal food for someone who is on the Warm and Dry side and who may suffer from constipation. On the other hand, for the Cold, Damp individual, bananas might aggravate an existing condition.
In Chinese medicine, foods are classed as being either heating, cooling, drying or damp. Balancing these energetic properties is key as it can help to prevent illness and disease. Knowing which foods heat and cool the body and which foods create dryness and dampness can help you make the right food choices.. Balancing the energetic qualities of food can help to decrease excess heat with cooling foods, or reduce dampness with drying foods.
The route of a food is also considered. The route of a food describes which meridian (channel) is effected, and the action describes any other therapeutic effect that particular food may have, such as it's ability to tonify Qi, clear pathogenic Heat, or aid Blood circulation. The combination of temperature, flavour, route and actions gives us a complete overview of the energetic properties of a food.
For example the walnut is Warm and Sweet and enters the Kidney channel. It tonifies Yang, Qi and Yin, counteracts Cold and clears Phlegm. This tells us that it is the ideal food for a dual deficiency of both Yin and Yang of the Kidneys (it is one of the few foods that can strengthen Yin and Yang at the same time) and as it has a Warm nature, especially for Kidney Yang Deficiency.
The preparation and cooking of food is also important to its energetic qualities. One of the distinct contrasts to commonly held Western ideas is regarding the relative merits of cold, raw food. In Chinese thought, cold and raw foods such as salads, smoothies and raw fruit are considered Cold in energetic nature, and quite detoxifying. They are thus suitable for strong, robust, Hot natured people but not really recommended in large amounts for frail, Cold or weak people, or those with digestive difficulties.
Because it takes so much more energy to digest cold and raw food, anyone with digestive problems such as food intolerance, bloating, IBS, indigestion etc may want to consider a move to more cooked and warm foods. Slow cooked soups, stews and casseroles are all excellent choices for most of us, as they are the easiest foods to digest, and reach the stomach in a state where their Qi can easily be utilised.
In ancient China, Dietary Therapy was considered the first treatment of choice for most conditions and only if this failed, were other methods such as acupuncture, herbs or acupressure massage administered. Chinese Dietary Therapy can help re-balance any dis-harmonies in the body to help facilitate optimum health for preventative care.
Care Cure practitioners are skilled Chinese medicine herbalists and Dietary Therapists.
Please avail of our free consultation online or at our clinics in the Merrion Shopping Center, Dublin 4 or 53 Georges St, Lwr.
We offer a full range of traditional Chinese medicine treatments including acupuncture, acupressure, cupping, herbal remedies, heat therapy, moxibustion and reflexology.