Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a functional medicine healing system that has been successfully practiced for thousands of years. Food is a vital component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, with both food, herbs and medicine all sharing the same origin and all being used in the treatment of health conditions, disease and illness.
As an advocate and practitioner of Chinese medicine, I use the 5 Element theory as my basis for Food As Medicine. The 5 Elements are wood, earth, water, fire and metal and each have a corresponding organ/s and associated beneficial or harmful foods. Although it may sound far fetched to diagnose disease in this way, it is a sound and successful method dating from 400BC. For example, in Winter we tend to crave more heated, cooked and nourishing foods and cooler moister foods in Summer.
According to 5 Elements, Winter is affiliated with water, being cold and damp and urging us towards warming food. Summer is associated with fire and we tend to choose cooling foods such as salads and may crave foods with high water content such as watermelon, pears etc. In 5 Elements, warmth combats cold and damp while cool combats fire and heat.
One of the main principles in Chinese Medicine is to keep the body neutral, balanced and food is one of the main ways we can do this. Be conscious of what is going on inside our body, how do you feel, is there an excess of heat, cold or damp? And if there is, add some foods into your diet to correct this. You can also remove foods that exacerbate the imbalance.
Below are lists of foods that correspond to each energy.
The Energy Of Food
Fire / Hot Foods
- Black pepper
- Horse radish
- Sour fruits