Classifying Chinese Foods in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, a well balanced diet is roughly made up of 20 percent of each of the following five flavors or tastes: salty, spicy, bitter, sour, and sweet. The standard American diet is oftentimes improperly weighted with excessive amounts of sweet tastes and salt. As this type of diet leads to obesity and health imbalances in people, talking about eating the right diet does matter. Chinese or Oriental medicine is a health system whose objective is to attain harmony, moderation, and balance in all aspects of an individual’s health and well-being. Our society tends to ignore or underestimate food choices as an essential prerequisite in the restoration and maintenance of health. Chinese medicine totally incorporates dietary principles and food in the restoration and maintenance of health.

Chinese medicine classifies both foods and herbs depending on their inherent qualities. In choosing a food or herb to rectify a specific condition, two of the most common criteria used are the food/herb’s sensory and thermal attributes. Classifying foods by temperature in Chinese medicine is achieved by assessing both the food’s thermal quality and the manner it is prepared. This assessment – expressed as cold, cool, neutral, warm, or hot – is an energetic temperature indicating the effect a certain food will have on the body when consumed. This translates into how foods can be used as a thermal vehicle to either cool or warm certain parts of the body in order to treat or reverse a condition.

In Chinese medicine, another level of food classification is the Five Tastes. The Five Tastes is the same as food temperatures as it refers to the type of energy an herb or food produces in the act of ingestion and in the process of assimilation (digestion). Each taste in Chinese medicine has an energetic correspondence that affects specific internal organs. This generates another tier of personalization and accuracy in the choice of herbs and foods to address the specific complaints of a person.

In order to come up with a complete diagnosis, your Chinese medicine practitioner in Cleveland will need to evaluate your dietary habits, symptoms, and health. Dietary prescriptions are usually made to support and supplement your plan of treatment.