Diet Therapy is a very large part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and one of its main therapeutic ‘tools’. In TCM foods are often used for medicinal purposes. Foods are believed to either ‘heat’ or ‘cool’ the constitution, making dietary changes an important part of the healing process. Chinese dietary therapy is an integral part of any complete chinese medicine treatment. In 752 A.D., Wang Shou published A Collection of Diseases, in which he describes his treatment for diabetes. He recommended the use of pork pancreas as a treatment, predating the discovery of insulin by 1,000 years. In the absence of laboratory tests, his method of checking for sugar in the urine was ingenious: The patient was instructed to urinate on a flat brick to see if ants would show up to collect the sugar!In the traditional system of dietary cures, foods have been organized into categories based on their innate temperature, energetics (the direction in which they move qi and how they affect qi and blood flow), and the organs they affect.In general, grains and beans are considered to bring stability to the body. They build blood and qi, and they establish rhythm and stability. Vegetables, which are best if eaten in season, bring vitality. Leafy greens have an affinity for the upper body, while root vegetables give strength to the middle and lower body. Fruits build fluids and purge toxins, and they tend to be cooling by nature. They should be eaten alone, or they can cause indigestion.A healthy diet should consist mainly of a wide variety of organically grown whole grains, beans, and vegetables; fruits and animal protein should be eaten in smaller amounts.
How to make Rice Congee
The food most commonly used for therapeutic effects is congee, a rice gruel that is soothing to the stomach and exceptionally easy to digest. It is made by slowly cooking 1 part white rice in 6 parts water until the rice is the consistency of a thick soup. A crock pot works especially well for this purpose.
As a therapy, specific ingredients can be added for their medicinal effect. For example:
An elderly person who is experiencing constipation due to yang deficiency might add walnuts for their tonifying and lubricating actions.
A person who is experiencing weak vision due to blood deficiency could add Lycium fruit for its ability to nourish the eyes.