A Thousand Years of Chinese Medical Wisdom
A Thousand Years of Chinese Medical Wisdom

Dr. Helen H.Hu, Medical Degree, OMD, L.Ac

 

A Thousand Years of Chinese Medical Wisdom

“Return to nature,” and “humans and nature are one,” represent the core philosophies of the laws of nature. I want again to emphasis this Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principle to all readers. In my first book “Body Without Mystique”, it teaches the basic fundamental elements of what is TCM nutrition, how we can identify our body type, how to choose the right food and how to make life style changes that are compatible with our body type, seasonal change and life stage to maximize our well being and prevent diseases.  

Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that “food and herbs come from the same source.”  By using natural foods and herbs to balance the body, the body’s energy is restored, which is crucial for wellness and longevity.

In our modern society, food and medicine are totally different entities. The meaning of nutritional values nowadays are simply meaning of   vitamin A to Z, protein and fiber contents with ignore of the whole healing property of true value of natural plants .  How can we use the same “modern jargon” to classify natural plants and food and left out something that doesn’t fit commercial jargon – the real healing power of food.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the three most vital components for life are Jing (physical body), Qi (energy), and Shen (spirit).  They are the so-called “Three Treasures.” A good diet not only nourishes our physical body and our organs, giving us vital energy, but it also nourishes our spirit. When Chinese medicine speaks of organs, it refers more to the energetic function of each organ than to anatomy only, as in Western medicine. If a person has a weakness in a certain organ and an imbalance between organs, as part of the treatment protocol, the diet can be modified to reestablish the balance and strength.

In ancient times, people lived closer to nature in more integrated communities. Over thousands of years, through observation and by surviving many diseases and natural disasters, they discovered how various foods promoted longevity and well-being. Many of these longevity-promoting foods and herbs have been recorded in the history of Chinese medicine.

In nature, all living creatures (including humans) are on the same energy environment   with the earth and universe. We are all sensitive and responsive to environmental changes, seasonal changes, cosmos changes and life stage changes.

 Our energetic body reflects other energetic living things in the same environment with the same adaptability and resistance to local environmental changes.

We need to eat locally organically grown food that provides the body with better resistance and strength for healing.  This concept has been utilized in TCM for centuries. A simple example:  imagining a human body as a natural plant with a flower on the top as a human face; plant’s stem and branches as a human’s four limbs; the plant’s leaves as our hands and feet; and the plant’s roots as our internal organs. Based on this understanding, TCM herbalists (or herbal medicine practioners) using herbs to treat problems on the face use ingredients from flowers (the top of plant); stem from plants usually treat blockage on the meridian of the limbs and joints, and the roots and seeds for disorders in internal organs. Since food and herbs come from the same source, the principle of healing power in the herbs applies to the whole nature (of) food.  Eating organic whole food empowers the body for self healing and prevention.

What can we do if the body already experiences disease?

Can we use food therapy to reverse disease rather than take medication?  Yes; there is a saying in old Chinese folk lore: curing the diseases from eating by eating.  Most diseases come from inappropriate diet and life style that compromise our body’s ability to perform its functions properly and sustain immunity.  In order to assist the body’s recovery from disorders and restore the body’s natural ability and resistance one must first make a fundamental change: to choose the appropriate diet for healing. That is TCM food therapy, the Shi Liao.

What is TCM Food therapy?

Food or prepared dishes should have attractive colors, smells, tastes and an attractive design. The formulation of a food therapy diet follows the same principle as when a TCM doctor writes a prescription for herbs, which is also an art form. In this art form of herb prescription, there are 1-3 chief herbs, some deputy herb, assistant herbs and convoy herbs that work together like a battalion on the battle field. This means that the TCM doctor prepares the TCM food therapy not only for its therapeutic effect, but also considering the way to prepare, taking into account color, taste, body condition and the seasonal changes, indeed an art form.  There are thousands of dishes, soups, congees, desserts, and herbal wines, and hundreds of books through the different dynasties, up until today. TCM food therapy is a specialty within the whole of TCM and an important part of Yang Sheng (Nourishing life).

Both Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine see the body in different ways: one is evidence based by an anatomic and structure model that fits all, and the other is based on energy, interrelated with body functional organs and its related appearance (clinical manifestation) that is consistently changing. A diagnosis disease in Western medicine may have multiple TCM pattern diagnoses that stress the different root causes or different underline body imbalances.  The specific combination recipes in TCM food therapy apply to different pattern diagnosis. In order to know about the function and characteristics of TCM food therapy, please read my fist book: Body Without Mystique.

 This book provides recipes for treating diseases named as in Western Medicine and different receipts to fit each Pattern Diagnosis by TCM.

Our goal is to educate and guide our readers to choose the right foods for a nourishing life and for healing. It requires a life time practice to reach our maximum life span (heavenly age). It is called Yang Sheng (Nourishing life).

How to Use this Book

This book offers TCM food therapy for diseases as categorized in the diagnosis in Western Medicine, however, since there are different patterns of diagnosis by Traditional Chinese Medicine under each disease, so that one may choose the diet by matching one’s symptom to a particular pattern described in the book.  One can chose one or two patterns diet therapies in each disease.

 

As one can follow the cooking instruction as principle but modified according to each individual condition and cooking experience. Alternate: one can follow the principle cooking instructions or modify each according to one’s individual condition and cooking experience.  In most Chinese family cooking, people never remember or specify exact measurements of daily ingredients such as salt , water and sugar, but instead modify those common components depending on each individual’s  preferences in order to meet taste and specific restrictions such as salt when one has hypertension and kidney failure.

 

Finally, the author has to make a claim that TCM food therapies does not mean to substitute an individual’s current regimes of ongoing medical treatment. It depends on one’s own judgment to integrate TCM food therapy into one’s own overall healthcare. The author does recommend that readers take active measures and integrate TCM food therapy for prevention of and avoiding recurrence of the disorders.

Since most readers are familiar with metric measurements (except people in the United States), I have provided a measurements conversion table for reference.

Each culture has preserved its own treasures in local related healing plants, spices and remedies for healing. I am eager to learn from those folks of their varieties of healing modalities.  I hope that we can contribute and share all those natural healing treatments from every culture of the world for health, happiness, peace and wellness for generations of years to come.