Food Taboos and Chinese Medicine...

The Chinese have a long history in dietary practice and have accumulated much experience in taboos. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), adverse effects that result from these combinations may include an accumulation of metabolic wastes, relapse of disease, skin rashes or even stagnation of qi (vital energy).

Food and beverages that we consume daily, whether hot or cold should be chosen according to a person's constitution and condition. Inappropriate intake will lead to extreme energy excess inside the body and disturb the yin yang balance. A well-planned diet promotes the body to function optimally, and ensures a full recovery from diseases.

Dietary restraint in certain health conditions

A basic principle in TCM is that when a person suffers from a certain disorder or takes medication, he should avoid certain foods. For example, a person suffering from generalized body swelling should refrain from salty food, and a person suffering from diarrhea should avoid a greasy diet. TCM physicians usually advise their patients to consider the following aspects:

  • If you are recovering an illness you may have a poor appetite. Try to eat small meals and cut down the amount of grain and wheat products, such as noodles or cakes that are made from glutinous rice, barley and wheat.

  • If you have Diarrhea, you should avoid cold foods and drinks, and also limit the amount of fruits and raw vegetables.

  • If you have excess phlegm and dampness (often in those with hypertension, diabetes, obesity, asthma, gout, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular problems), try and cut down the amount of oily, fatty, deep fired foods, and even animal organs and daily products.

  • For those who have a wind-heat disharmony, phlegm-heat disharmony or skin problems, fishy and other strong flavor meat should be avoided, such as sea fishes, shrimp, crab, mussel, mutton and venison.

  • Individuals with internal heat, that shows through dry cough, dry mouth, hot flush, or dry stool should avoid hot and pungent foods such as onion, ginger, garlic, chilli pepper, pepper, garlic chives, wine and cigarette.

“Trigger foods” refer to certain items that can cause a relapse of preexisting health problems to an individual. For example, buckwheat, bean sprouts, goose, chicken and duck heads are generally not recommended to those who have asthma, convulsion, stroke and skin problems, while bean sprouts and coriander should be avoided in the early stage of measles.

It should be noted that TCM food taboos are for general reference only; they might have different results in different people, and the undesired effects may also be altered during cooking.

These and other Traditional Chinese practices all form part of TCM, each adding a little to the history and methodology of Acupuncture and Herbs.

Eca Brady is a fully licensed physician of Chinese Medicine BSc(Ac) MBAcC PGDip(CHM), practicing from Harley Street, London. Make an appointment for an acupuncture treatment and we can discuss how we can help you, to read more about Eca click here.

Excerpts from the original article by Dang Yi MD PhD.


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