Chinese Medical Dietary Recommendations

by John G. Connor, M.Ac., L.Ac., edited by Barbara Connor, M.Ac., L.Ac.

INTRODUCTION:
Barbara and I see many patients manifesting the Chinese medical condition known as Blood Stagnation or Blood Stasis.  We get very good results treating this condition with a combination of craniosacral acupuncture, hara visceral work, herbs, dietary and lifestyle modifications.  We have written this article to identify for you those foods which you can incorporate into your diet to resolve Blood Stagnation as well as to identify certain foods which should be avoided.

CLINICAL MANIFESTATION OF BLOOD STAGNATION:
Dark complexion, purple lips, pain which is boring, fixed and stabbing in character, abdominal masses that do not move, purple nails, bleeding with dark blood and dark clots.  These are only the general symptoms of Blood stagnation or Blood stasis without reference to particular organs.

USEFUL FOODS:
Vinegar, turmeric, chives, garlic, basil, scallion, leek, ginger, chestnut, rosemary, cayenne, nutmeg, kohlrabi, eggplant, white pepper, adzuki bean, sweet rice, spearmint, butter, lotus root, hawthorn berry, brown sugar, squid, crab, rose, peanuts, lotus root, spinach, peach, peach seed, peach flower powder, wood ear (black fungus) and cinnamon.

Precautions:
· Warming foods such as garlic and ginger should be used carefully if at all in cases of heat signs.
· Butter is most useful in cases of emaciation and weakness and a dietary history low in animal products.  It is contraindicated in cases of liver excess, dampness and mucous conditions.
· Vinegar and sweet rice are contraindicated in patterns of deficient digestive fire with signs such as watery stools and a feeling of coldness.

NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT:
· Vitamin E – is helpful in reducing blood stagnation as well as painful inflammation.

DAMP HEAT CONSTITUTIONS:
Persons with Damp Heat constitutions easily develop skin sores; and if they are young – acne.  Their face is often shiny and oily.  They have a dry mouth and there will be a slightly bitter taste in the mouth.  There is a tendency towards anger and irritability.  Often they feel fatigued and have a lack of energy.  They will be somewhat impatient and anxious.  They like eating oily, sweet and fried foods.  Their stools are usually dry.  There will be scanty urine that is more yellow in color.  If they get sick it is often associated with emotional upset or associated with the food that they have eaten.  Their pulse is slippery and fast and their tongue has a red body and a sticky yellow coat.

USEFUL FOODS:
Majority of foods should be vegetables and foods that remove dampness and heat such as:  Adzuki beans, lima beans, mung beans, black beans, celery, carrots, winter squash, potatoes with skins, asparagus, mushrooms, corn, peas, amaranth, Chinese barley, day lily, bamboo shoots, wax gourd, white gourd, cucumber and duck

Lemon (diluted juice), cranberry juice, huckleberries, bananas, Chinese pears and watermelon.

Useful herbal teas:  Uva ursi, dandelion leaf, plantain leaf, flax seed, watermelon seed and pipsissewa (pipsissewa is good for chronic bladder infections).

FOODS TO AVOID:
Refined sugar and other concentrated sweeteners, meat, greasy, oily foods, too much starch, and overeating.

DAMPNESS
INTRODUCTION:

Barbara and I see many patients manifesting the Chinese medical condition known as Dampness.  We get very good results treating this condition with a combination of craniosacral acupuncture, herbs, dietary and lifestyle modifications.  We have written this article to identify for you those foods which you can incorporate into your diet which counteract Dampness as well as to identify certain foods which when avoided will help you in reducing Dampness.

GENERAL CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS OF DAMPNESS:
A feeling of heaviness of the body or head, muzzy headedness, no appetite, stuffy feeling in the chest and/or epigastrium, a sticky taste in the mouth, cloudy urine, vaginal discharges, certain types of oozing skin diseases, a sticky tongue coating and a slippery pulse. Dampness can obstruct the circulation of Qi in the abdomen and, besides affecting the intestines, it can affect the Spleen and the Liver.  This causes abdominal pain, a feeling of fullness and heaviness and possibly diarrhea.  Long term stagnation of Dampness in the Middle Burner can also gradually spread upwards filling the head causing a sensation of heaviness of the head, dull headache and a difficulty in thinking.

USEFUL FOODS WHICH COUNTERACT DAMPNESS:
Lettuce, Amaranth, Asparagus, Wild Blue Green Algae, White Pepper, Vinegar, Papaya, Chaparral, Pau d’arco, Valerian, Chamomile, Celery, Turnip, Rye, Barley, Adzuki Beans, Alfalfa, Pumpkin

Useful Foods for Spleen Dampness:
Celery, Turnip, Rye, Barley, Adzuki Beans, Alfalfa, Pumpkin, Chinese Cabbage, Watermelon, Corn, Anchovy, Kidney Beans, Button Mushrooms, Shrimp, Chestnuts, Kohlrabi, Mustard Greens, Radish, Chicken, Chicken Gizzards, Mackerel.

FOODS TO AVOID IN CASES OF DAMPNESS:·
Dairy Products, Meat, Eggs, Tofu, Pineapple, Salt and Concentrated Sweeteners, Peanuts, Ice Water, Ice Cream.

Foods to Avoid for Spleen Damp Conditions:·
Salt, Milk, Cheese, Eggs, Sugar, Soybean, Pine nuts, Asparagus, Cucumber, Seaweed, Tofu, Bamboo Shoots, Kelp, Agar, Cabbage, Coconut Milk, Spinach, Olives, Black Sesame, Goose, Duck, Pork, Shellfish, Clams, Mussels, Crabs, Sardines, Octopus, Shark Meat, Red Meat, Excessive Watery Foods.  Also use sour foods sparingly.

LIVER QI CONSTRAINT  (Liver Qi Stagnation)
WHAT IS LIVER QI CONSTRAINT?
Liver Qi Constraint, also known as Liver Qi Stagnation, is by far the most common Liver pattern and also one of the most common patterns in general. It manifests clinically as distending pain the hypochondriac region, stuffiness of the chest, sighing, epigastric and abdominal distention, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, sour regurgitation, belching,  borborygmi, diarrhea, feeling of being “wound up”, feeling of a lump in the throat, irregular periods, painful periods, distention of the breasts prior to periods, pre-menstrual tension and irritability, melancholy, depression and moodiness. We hope the suggestions given below are helpful in your quest for optimal liver health.

THESE ARE USEFUL FOODS IF YOU HAVE LIVER QI CONSTRAINT:
Lemon, lime or grapefruit, moderately pungent foods, spices and herbs, members of the onion family, mustard greens, cardamom, cumin, fennel, horseradish, various mints, lemon balm, angelica root, prickly ash bark.  Also sweet rice, strawberry, peach, cherry, pine nuts, cabbage, turnip root, cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts.  Also sprouted grains, beans and seeds, fresh vegetables and fruit.  Mushrooms, rye, asparagus, amaranth, quinoa, alfalfa, radish leaves, citrus peel, chaparral, bupleurum, chamomile, peony root, dandelion root.

Foods that relax the Liver: Beef, chicken, liver, mussels, black sesame, kelp, plums, mulberries, celery, nori, lotus seeds, Chinese red dates and gotu kola.

 Foods that activate Liver Qi: Vinegar, amasake, beets, coconut milk, garlic, leeks, marjorams, safflower, basil, black pepper, dill seed, ginger, longan, rosemary, scallions, by leaves, cabbage, litchi, kohlrabi, saffron, peaches, oregano, tumeric, eggplant, chives, chestnuts.

Foods that also detoxify and cool the Liver: Celery, seaweed, watercress, mung beans, lettuce, cucumber, tofu, millet, plum, rhubarb root or stem, daikon, radish, carrots, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, parsley.

THESE ARE FOODS TO AVOID IF YOU HAVE LIVER QI CONSTRAINT:
Foods high in saturated fats (such as lard, mammal meat, cream cheese and eggs), hydrogenated or poor quality foods (such as shortening, margarine, refined and rancid oils), deep fried, greasy, fatty foods, coffee, alcohol, food preservatives, excessively spicy foods, sugar and sweets, peanut butter, excesses of nuts and seeds, chemicals in food and water, all intoxicants and highly processed refined foods (refined flour products are hard on the Spleen and make it easier for the Liver to invade it).

SPLEEN QI DEFICIENCY
CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS OF SPLEEN QI DEFICIENCY
No appetite, abdominal distension after eating, tiredness, lassitude, sallow complexion, weakness of the limbs, loose stools, pale or normal colored tongue, empty pulse.  If Spleen Qi Deficiency gives rise to Dampness there may also be nausea, stuffiness of the chest and epigastrium and a feeling of heaviness.

USEFUL FOODS FOR TREATING SPLEEN QI DEFICIENCY:
(These should be cooked or taken at room temperature.  Limit the number of cooked fruits.)

Quinoa, parsnip, adzuki beans, black beans, pine nuts, garbanzo beans, cooked squash, cooked turnips, oats, rice, cooked cherries, cooked carrots, cooked leeks, mussels, shrimp, cardamom, black pepper, cooked strawberries, ginger, tapioca and custards, cooked yams, cooked onions, cooked rutabagas, cooked pumpkin, cooked peaches, dried litchi, cinnamon, arrowroot, dried figs, nutmeg, sweet potato, garlic, fennel.

Moderate amounts of: honey, molasses, barley malt, maple syrup and raw sugar.

Small amounts of: chicken, lamb, beef, turkey and anchovies.

FOODS TO AVOID IN CASES OF SPLEEN QI DEFICIENCY:
Too many sweets, seaweed, milk, chilled, iced or frozen foods or liquids, citrus fruits and citrus juices, tofu, cheese, salads, too much salt, millet, too many liquids with meals, raw foods, hard to digest food, undercooked grains, buckwheat, agar.

YANG DEFICIENCY
CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS OF YANG DEFICIENCY:
Includes those of Qi deficiency ( pale face, a weak voice, slight sweating in daytime, slight breathlessness, tiredness, lack of appetite and an empty pulse) plus chilliness, a bright pale face, cold limbs, no thirst, a desire for hot drinks, loose stools, frequent-pale urination, a weak pulse and a pale wet tongue.

USEFUL FOODS FOR YANG DEFICIENCY:
Rice, sweet brown rice, oats, spelt, quinoa, corn, buckwheat and rye.

Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, fennel, dill, anise, caraway, carob pod, cumin, peanuts, chestnuts, cinnamon bark and pine nuts.

Yellow onions, Chinese yam, Chinese cabbage, parsnip, winter squash, sweet potato, kale, leek, scallion, mustard greens and carrots.

Chives, garlic, ginger, cloves, basil, rosemary, angelica root and parsley.

Lychee, pumpkin, cherry, citrus peel, dates and raisins.

Hot peppers and cayenne (caution:  use hot peppers and cayenne in small pinches or they can have a strong cooling effect).

Walnuts (start eating one walnut a day, then add one more each day, not to exceed 20 per day).

Coffee and cocoa (caution:  coffee and cocoa damage the yin in Yin deficient persons, and they are contraindicated in insomnia).

Chicken, goat’s milk, beef, lamb, shrimp, mussels, fish (e.g., anchovy and trout).

In general, use warming foods and methods of preparation.

FOODS TO AVOID IN CASES OF YANG DEFICIENCY:
Use fewer cooling foods and fruits and raw foods.

YIN DEFICIENCY
MAIN MANIFESTATIONS OF YIN DEFICIENCY:
General symptoms include low-grade fever or a feeling of heat in the afternoon, a dry throat at night, night sweats, emaciation, a floating-empty pulse and a red, peeled and dry tongue.  Other symptoms will depend upon which organ is mostly involved.

USEFUL FOODS:
Millet, barley, wheat germ, wheat, rice, seaweed, micro-algae, tofu, black beans, kidney beans, adzuki beans, mung beans and their sprouts, beets, string beans, kuzu, potatoes, whole salt, spirulina, chlorella, wild blue green algae, lettuce, kamut, lily root, cucumber, soybean milk, spinach, tomato, radish and mushroom

Persimmon, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, watermelon, plums, pears, strawberries, lemons and pineapple, kiwi and banana (use banana with caution in case of Spleen Qi Deficiency with Dampness).

Crab, clam, mussels, sardines, sea cucumber, beef, dairy products, yogurt, cheese, abalone, oyster, duck, chicken eggs, duck eggs, ham and pork.

FOODS TO AVOID:
Alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, shrimp, excessive and poor quality meat.

REFERENCES

Ma, Shou-Chun, MTCM, Chinese Nutrition Class Notes from Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Seattle, 1994
Maciocia, Giovanni, The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingston, 1989
Pitchford, Paul, Healing with Whole Foods, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1993
Xinnong, Cheng (Ed), Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Beijing: Foreign Languages Press 1987

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Compassionate Acupuncture and Healing Arts, providing craniosacral acupuncture, herbal and nutritional medicine in Durham, North Carolina. Phone number 919-309-7753.

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