Chinese Dietary Therapy

Chinese dietary therapy is an integral part of Chinese medicine and is based upon the principles of the Four Qi (warm and hot, cool and cold) & Five Tastes.

Common Yin-Yang Food Actions

Yang

Yin

Warming (warm & hot)

Cooling (cool & cold)

Sweet, pungent

Salty, bitter, sour

Energising

Building blood and fluid

Ascending energy

Descending energy

Vegetation above the ground

Vegetation below the ground

The 5 tastes/flavours also correspond to the organ systems.

SWEET

Yang, heating, Earth Element, affinity with Late Summer/Transition, moves upwards &       outwards, enters the Spleen (the master of digestion and also includes the pancreas), strengthens, harmonises, moistens dryness (good), produces Dampness (bad), builds tissue (good), creates fat (bad). The Sweet taste relates to the Earth element, which is associated with the Spleen and Stomach. Foods with a naturally sweet flavour, such as certain vegetables, fruits, grain and meats are strengthening, boost the Qi (energy) and moisten by producing fluids. However, if too much sweet food in the form of sugars, sweeteners and juices are taken in, it will lead to Dampness and depress the Spleen. The energy of the Spleen has 2 massive functions:

It transports and transforms everything within the body.

SALTY 

Yin, cooling, Water Element, affinity with Winter, moves downwards & inwards, enters the Kidney and Bladder, regulates fluids, detoxifies, softens (good), hardens (bad). A small amount of the salty taste has the action of taking things down and softening hard lumps – this is usually done with a particular salty herb combined with several other Chinese herbs, An excess of salt tends to take things upwards and create hardening.

BITTER

Yin, cooling, Fire Element, affinity with Summer, descending, enters the Heart, reduces excess, promotes digestion, dries Dampness and clears Heat (good), too much will cause dryness (bad).

SOUR

Yin, cooling, Wood Element, affinity with Spring, contracting & astringent, stops leakage, enters Liver, consolidates (good), tenses (bad).

PUNGENT, AROMATIC, SPICY. Yang, warming, Metal Element, affinity with Autumn, upwards & outwards, promotes circulation, aids digestion, induces sweating, enters the Lung – Distributes (good), scatters (bad). If a person’s energy is weak, avoid pungent foods, as the pores will open and energy will leak out e.g. avoid curries.