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Chinese Dietary Recommendations November 13, 2012

In order to get the most out of acupressure or Chinese herbal medicine, it is very important to support your treatment with proper diet and lifestyle.  In Chinese medicine, there is a saying, “Seven parts nursing, three parts treatment.”  Nursing here means proper diet and lifestyle modifications.

According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), every food has both a nature and flavor(s).  A food’s nature is its effect on the temperature of the body.  Thus a food can be either hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold.  Since Chinese medicine works on the basis of restoring balance to the body, if one suffers from a hot disease, they should avoid hot foods and eat more cool and cold foods, and vice versa.

Likewise, each food has one or more of the five or six flavors.  These are sour, bitter, sweet, spicy (acrid, pungent), salty, or bland tastes.  Each flavor is associated with one of the main organs and leads the effects of that food to that organ.  For instance, sour is the flavor associated with the liver.  It leads the effects of a sour food to the liver.  In excess, the sour flavor can damage the liver.  In addition, each flavor also has a general effect on the body’s metabolism.  Sour astringes, spicy causes upward and outward movement, salty leads downward and softens; bitter clears heat and also astringes, sweet supplements and also moistens, and bland tasting foods tend to cause urination and seep water.

Therefore, a person suffering from lung dryness might want to eat pears which are sweet and especially help generate fluids.  However, if a person suffers from evil dampness and phlegm, they should avoid pears.  This means that weather a food is good or bad for an individual is entirely dependent upon that person’s TCM pattern diagnosis and the nature and flavor of that food.  If one knows the nature and flavor of a food and their TCM pattern diagnosis, one can rationally decide on the impact of that food on that person.  For a list of the nature and flavor of 200 common foods, you may refer to “Prince Wen Hui;s Cook: Chinese Dietary Therapy” by Bob Flaws and Honora Lee Wolfe.

The following suggestions are only general guidelines and should be adjusted for each individual by a qualified practitioner of Chinese dietary therapy based on a TCM disease and pattern diagnosis. Call Tranquility Spa and Wellness Center for an Acupuncture examination and treatment recommendations.


For Liver Imbalances (liver qi, effulgence of liver yang, depressive liver heat, liver fire harassing above, liver wind).  Please avoid or minimize the foods or drinks which aggravate the Chinese concept of the liver:

Alcohol                                                   Greasy, fatty, oily foods                      Overeating in general

Coffee (regular&decaf)                   Hard to digest foods : nuts Heavy red meats in abundance     Excessive sour foods and drinks        Spicy, pungent, “hot” foods               

For Digestive Weakness (spleen qi vacuity, spleen yang vacuity, spleen dampness)

Please avoid or minimize the following foods and drinks which aggravate weak spleen function:

Raw salads, fruit, vegetables      Pork                                                        Dairy Products

Sugar & Sweets                                             Buckwheat                                             Beer

Cold drinks with meals                                Fruit Juices                                             Melons, strawberries, pears, bananas

Frozen or chilled foods                                Large doses vitamin C                         Lettuce, radishes, celery

Herb teas or over the counter preparations with Echinacea or Goldenseal

Please eat all warm, cooked foods, plenty of cooked vegetables, rice, noodles, soups and stews.  Be sure grains are will cooked and easily digestible.  Eat more frequent but smaller, easier to digest meals.  Drink a teacup of warm water, broth, soup or herb tea with each meal.  You may use black and white pepper, cardamom, fresh ginger, ginger powder, cloves, nutmeg, orange peel and fennel as cooking spices.

 For Excessive Phlegm – Please avoid or minimize the following:

Dairy Products                                              Heavy Hard to Digest Foods               Pears

Sugar & Sweets                                             Overeating in general                          Pork & Beef

Oily, greasy, fried, & fatty foods                Oats, possibly Wheat                                         

 If the phlegm is categorized as hot phlegm, please also avoid or minimize

Alcohol                           Spicy, pungent, “hot” foods

For Kidney Vacuity Weakness (kidney qi vacuity, kidney yang vacuity, kidney qi not consolidating), please avoid or minimize the following food and drinks:

Alcohol, excessive fluids                              Chilled, frozen foods & liquids                           Coffee & Caffeine

Artificial Sweeteners                     Stimulants, speed, so called recreational drugs              

For Lung/Kidney yin vacuity – Please avoid or minimize the following:

Spicy, Pungent, “hot” Foods                 Recreational Drugs                               Coffee & Caffeine

Alcohol                                                     Cigarette Smoking

 You may eat some animal meats, eggs, and dairy; oatmeal; cooked pears and apples as long as your case is not complicated by excessive phlegm.       

For Damp Heat (liver, gallbladder damp heat, spleen damp heat, large intestine damp heat, lower burner damp heat) Please avoid or minimize the following food and drinks:

Sugar & Sweets                            Spicy, pungent, “hot” foods                               Alcohol

Nuts & Nut Butters                       Greasy, oily, fried & fatty foods                         Pork & Beef

Citrus Fruits & Juices, especially orange juice

If damp heat is complicated by candidiasis, please also avoid or minimize:

Vinegar                                          Yeasted bread and baked goods

Fermented foods (excepting miso, tempeh, shoyu, and yogurt)

Any foods which may be contaminated by yeast and molds due to improper or prolonged spoilage.

For Blood Vacuity

Please plenty of the following foods:

Cooked leafy greens                    Meat and marrow broths and soups                Black beans

Regular small portions of animal of animal protein                                               Orange & yellow vegetables

Easily digestible grains                Cherries, beets, grapes & raspberries

 Everyone should try to eat fresh food, freshly prepared, with minimum chemicals, preservatives or additives. Grains should be cooked thoroughly to allow for easy and complete digestion. Vegetables on the other hand, should not be over-cooked so as to conserve valuable vitamins and enzymes.  Sugar, salt, oil, and fat consumption should generally be kept low.  Most people should try to eat large amounts of roughage and fiber.  Dietary changes for chronic disease should be implemented slowly over a period of time but made a continuous part of one’s lifestyle. In addition to a healthy diet, it is vitally important to get adequate exercise and rest.  These are the three therapies which are the basis of good health.


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