A  Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine Clinic

TCM Dietary Therapy                        中医食疗
Based on the Traditions of Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Chinese Dietary (or food) Therapy is a practice in the belief of healing through the use of natural foods instead of,
or in addition to medications.

Philosophy of TCM Dietary Therapy

Chinese dietary therapy, is a modality of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Central to this belief system is the
idea that certain foods have a "hot" or heat-inducing quality while others have a "cold" or chilling effect on the body
and its organs and fluids. An imbalance of this "heat" and "cold" is said to increase susceptibility to sickness or to
directly cause disease itself. Such an imbalance is not necessarily related to the subjective feeling of being hot or

As an example, if one had a cold, or felt he was about to get a cold, he would not want to eat any "cold" foods such
as a lemon, melon or cucumber. If one had a so-called "hot" disease, like Eczema, then he would not want to eat
"hot" foods such as garlic, onions, or chocolate lest the "hot" condition is worsened. Indeed, these "hot" or "cold"
properties of foods are so intense that merely the eating of too many of one or another can actually cause diseases.
For example, the eating of too many "hot" foods like chili peppers or lobster could cause a rash, or the eating of too
many "cold" foods such as watermelon, or seaweed could cause one to develop stomach pain or diarrhea.

Chinese dietary therapy is said to date back as early as 2000 BC, though documentary evidence goes only to about
500 BC. The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, which was written around 300 BC, was most important in
forming the basis of Chinese dietary therapy. It classified food by four food groups, five flavours and by their natures
and characteristics.

The ideas of Yin and Yang are used in the sphere of food and cooking. Yang foods are believed to increase the
body's heat (e.g. raise the metabolism), while Yin foods are believed to decrease the body's heat (e.g. lower the
metabolism). As a generalization, Yang foods tend to be dense in food energy, especially energy from fat, while Yin
foods tend to have high water content. The Chinese ideal is to eat both types of food to keep the body in "balance".
A person eating too much Yang food might suffer from acne and bad breath while a person eating too much Yin
food might be lethargic or anemic.

The theory is that the Yin-Yang type of each individual determines how susceptible the person is to these effects
of food. A neutral person is generally healthy and will have strong reactions to these effects only after over
consumption of certain kind of food. In Chinese dietary therapy, a Yang type person can usually eat all Yin type
food with no ill effect, but may easily get a nose bleed with small amount of Yang type food. A Yin type person is
usually very unhealthy and is reactive to either Yin or Yang food. Boosting or nourishing type of food is needed to
bring a Yin person back to health.

General Principles of TCM Dietary Therapy
  1. Matching meals and chose food based on body pattern discrimination
  2. Protecting and nourishing the Spleen and Stomach which are responsible for digestion and absorption.
  3. Carefully harmonize the five flavors of foods and their natures
  4. Carefully avoid the foods prohibited to your body pattern

For more information, please click links below

The Rules of Dietary Therapy

Natures of Food - Flavors,  Temperatures, Routes and Actions of Food

Tonifying Food and Regulating Food

The Natures of Common Food