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Traditional Chinese Dietotherapy

Guided by fundamental theories of traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Chinese dietotherapy (TCD) is a specialty that is in concerns with the study of how to make good use of foods and natural nutriments as

Guided by fundamental theories of traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Chinese dietotherapy (TCD) is a specialty that is in concerns with the study of how to make good use of foods and natural nutriments as well as Chinese materia medica to preserve health, prevent and heal diseases, quicken their recovery, and slow down aging.TCD has remained an important component of traditional Chinese medicine, the same as acupuncture, herbology, Tuina(massage), Qigong,etc. The therapeutic effect of TCD has been proved by the clinical practice for centuries, especially that in the preventive medicine, rehabilitation and gerontology.TCD, as mentioned above, is based on the fundamentals of traditional Chinese medicine in the aspects of both theory and clinical practice, i.e. the theory of Yin-Yang, Five-Elements, Zang-Fu organs, meridians, etiology and pathogenesis, diagnostic methods, therapeutic principles, etc. Differing from the thought of microcosmic chemical composition, TCD concentrates on the idea of holistic entity and the principle of curing diseases in accordance with the differential diagnosis of syndromes.

It is understood in traditional Chinese medicine that the same as herbs, foods are also in different natures and flavors, accounting for their actions of reinforcing or reducing, and ascending or descending. Foods are able to balance Yin and Yang, and Qi and blood in the body. To prevent and cure diseases, both foods and medicines could exert important roles since they share the same source, are based on the same theory, and have similar medicinal actions, so food and herbs are combined in clinical use.


The four natures
Foods, the same as herbs, could also be classified into "four natures" i.e. "cold", "hot", "warm" and "cool" in line with their actions and curative effects. The foods of "cold" or "cool" property can be used to treat hot-natured diseases; while the "hot" or "warm" foods are used in treating the cold-natured diseases. Some foods may be neutral in nature.The following are listed the foods in different natures:
1). Food are cold or cool in natue: Barley, millet, buckwheat, greenbean, coix seed, celery, spinach, lettuce, green cabbage stems, turnips (white), bamboo shoot, lily bulb, lotus root, eggplant, tomato, water melon, white gourd, sponge gourd, cucumber, bitter melon, apple, pear, orange, banana, rabbit's meat, frog's meat, duck's meat, duck's egg, crab, sea couch(es), fresh water snail, kelp, laver, green tea, soy sauce, table salt, rock candy.
2). Foods are hot or warm in nature: Glutinous rice, Chinese sorghum, pumpkin, hot pepper, ginger, scallion, onion, leek, funnel green, garlic, parsley, mustard greens, date(s), walnut kernel, plum, arbutus, pomegranate, longan, peach, cherry, apricot, chestnut, pineapple, spirit, vinegar, black tea, pepper, coffee, chicken, turkey, sparrow's meat, mutton, vineson, dog's meat, spotted silver carp, grass fish, trout, red sugar.
3). Foods are neutral in nature: Polished rice, wheat, corn, soybean, pea, small red bean, cabbage cauliflower, carrot, fungus, silver fungus, mushroom, yam, day-lily buds, peanut, potato, lemon, grapes, cherry apple, olive, lotus seed, pork, beef, goose meat, spring chicken, pigeon's meat, quail's meat, egg(s), quail's egg, carp, mandarin fish, eel, yellow croaker, turtle, jelly fish, abalone, white sugar, honey, jasmine tea, wulong tea.


The nature of some Chinese material medica

Some Chinese herbal materials could be also used as medicinal nutrients which could be combined with foods in use. They are different in nature.
1). Herbs are cold or cool in natyre: Pseudostellaria root, glehnia root, ophiopogon root, fragrant solomonseal rhizome, dried rehmannia root, dendrobium, glossy privet fruit, eclipta, white peony root, chrysanthemum flower, cassia seed.
2). Herbs are hot or warm in nature: Panax ginseng, Astragalus menbranaceus, Atra ctylodes macroephala, pilose, dogwood fruit, epimedium, curculigo rhizome, prepared rhizome of rehmannia, Chinese angelica root, schisandra fruit.
3). Herbs are neutral in nature :Dangshen, Siberian solomonseal rhizome, poria, licorice root, donkey-hide gelatin, plastrum testudinis, fresh-water turtle shell, wild or spiny juba seed.


The five flavors
The Five flavors refer to the concept of five kinds of taste of foods or drugs, ie, pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty,
1). Foods with pungent flavor: Ginger, scalllion, garlic, hot pepper, pepper, cayenne pepper, onion, leek, spirit.
2). Foods with sweet flavor: Potato, lotus root, wheat, polished rice, pea, milk, pork, chestnut, date, honey.
3). Foods with sour flavor:Tomato, tangerine, plum, lemon, grape, papaya, haw, cherry apple, pomegranate, vinegar.
4). Foods with bitter flavor: Bitter melon, almond, lily bulb, orange peel, tea, coffee, bitter green, arrow root, pig liver.
5). Foods with salty flavor:Barley, millet, dried purple sea weed, kelp, jelly fish, pork, beef, crab, table salt.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the concept of “flavor��?is not limited to the sensible tastes, but rather covers also the actions of foods or materia medica, e.g. licorice is for sure sweet in flavor, but it can also be used to tonify Qi, ease cramp and harmonize other materials.It has been acknowledged in traditional Chinese medicine that herbs or foods may exert different effects because of the specific flavor of each kind, such as pungent flavor tends to disperse (e.g. opening the pores of the skin and causing perspiration); sourness gathers (astringent effect); bitter flavor removes pathological heat; and salty flavor softens hard masses.

In clinical practice or everyday life, it is often noticed that: such pungent foods as ginger and scalllion are used to treat common cold; sweet-flavored foods such as chestnut and jujube can be used to treat weakness and deficiency; lemon and black plum of sour flavor can be used to stop diarrhoea; bitter melons, bitter greens of bitter flavor are helpful to the treatment of febrile diseases.


Meridian tropism
Meridian tropism what area the herbs or foods act on since they have strong affinity to internal organs and meridians.
1). Some foods tropistic to Heart meridian: Wheat, lotus seeds, lily bulb, red bean, longan, pork skin.
2). Some foods tropistic to Liver meridian:Tomato, sponge gourd, papaya, haw, eel, pork liver.
3).Some foods tropistic to Spleen meridian:Polished rice , wheat, millet, snap bean, water melon, pork.
4).Some foods tropistic to Lung meridian:Ginger, onion, (white) turnip, pear, lily bulb, almond, water chestnut.
5).Some foods tropistic to Kidney meridian:Duck's meat, mutton, dog's meat, walnut kernel, sesame, prawn.

Attribution of Five Flavors:
In terms of the theory of Five elements it is held in traditional Chinese medicine that bitter attributes to the heart, sour to the liver, sweet to the spleen, pungent to the lungs and salty to the kidneys.

Congeneric theory:This theory is related also to the meridian tropism, i.e. treating disorders of human body with certain internal organs or tissues of animals. For instance, animal liver (or heart, or thyroid gland, or reproductive organs) can be used to treat liver (or heart or thyroid gland or sexual function) disorders.

Even nowadays, this theory is still applicable in modern medicine, e.g. to use insulin to treat diabetes and thyroid hormone to treat hyperthyroidism.

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