The central tenets of the laws of nature are symbolized by slogans such as “nature and humans are one” and “Return to nature.” We once again want to emphasize the principles of Maitland Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to all our readers especially the principles of Chinese nutritional therapy which is a central component of TCM. Nutritional Chinese medicine therapists teach us the fundamental basic elements of TCM nutrition, which is, how to select the appropriate food, how we can know our body type, and how to make modifications to our life style that are in harmony with our life stage, seasonal change and body type, and how to prevent illnesses and optimize our health.
There’s a saying in TCM, “plants (herbs) and foods originate from the same source.” When we use natural herbs and foods to balance our body, the energy of our body is restored, which is essential for longevity and wellness.
In today’s modern society, medicine and food are completely different things. Nowadays, the essence of nutritional health merely implies fiber contents, protein, and vitamins that do not include the real value and whole therapeutic quality of natural plants. How can one utilize this “modern dialect” to categorize natural food and plants and leave out things that are not compatible to commercial jargon, which is the true therapeutic attributes of food.
The three most important elements for life in TCM are Shen (spirit), Chi (energy) and Jing (physical body). These elements are known as the “Three Treasures.” Aside from nourishing our spirit, a healthy diet also nourishes our organs and physical body providing us vital energy (Chi). From the viewpoint of Chinese medicine, the organs refer more to the energetic mechanism of each organ than merely to anatomical part, as in Western medicine. If someone suffers from organ weakness and a state of imbalance in some organs, according to Chinese nutritional therapy, part of the plan of treatment will be altering the diet to restore strength and balance.
Hundreds of years ago, individuals living in integrated communities lived in close harmony with nature. Over the centuries, by surviving natural disasters and a myriad of illnesses and through observation, they found out how different foods boosted well-being and longevity. A lot of these life-prolonging herbs and foods have been documented in the annals of Chinese medicine.
All living things including humans share a similar energy environment with nature, with the universe, and with mother earth. We’re all responsive and sensitive to changes in the environment, changes in our life stages, and changes in the cosmos and the seasons.
Our energetic aspect mirrors other living things’ energetic aspects within the same milieu with the same resistance and adaptability as we have to changes in their local environment.
For healing and health maintenance, we should eat locally grown organic foods that provide our body with better strength and resistance. This idea has been used for hundreds of years in TCM. One basic example of this is to imagine the human body as a plant with a flower on the top as the face of a person; the branches and stems of a plant represent the four limbs of a person; the leaves of the plant as our feet and hands; and the roots of the plant, our internal organs. According to this understanding, traditional Chinese medicine herbal practitioners (or herbal medicine therapists) use herbs to address issues on the face utilize components from flowers (the plant’s top); the plant’s stem typically clears obstruction on the energy channels of the joints and limbs, and the seeds and roots to address diseases in the internal organs. Because herbs and food are derived from the same source, the basis of the healing power of herbs also relates to the total nature of food. For prevention and self healing, the body empower itself by taking in organic whole food.
What needs to be done if the body has already fallen to disease?
Instead of taking medication, can one use Chinese nutritional therapy to reverse disease? Of course; there’s an old Chinese saying that goes: healing the illness from eating by eating. Most conditions can be traced to an unhealthy lifestyle and a poor diet that impair the ability of the body to preserve immunity and execute its functions properly. To assist in the body’s recuperation from illnesses, to restore resistance, and to promote the natural ability of the body to heal itself, we first need to make significant changes to our diet. That is Shi Liao or traditional Chinese medicine nutritional therapy.
What is TCM Nutritional therapy?
Food, raw or prepared, should be enticing in smell, colorful, flavorful, tasteful and presentable. The framing of a therapeutically nutritious diet should follow the same principle as when a practitioner prescribes a selection of herbs, which is also considered a form of art. In this art of herbal prescription, there will be one to three primary herbs, some secondary herbs, assistant herbs and convoy herbs that work together like a platoon of soldiers on a battlefront. The TCM practitioner formulates a nutritional therapy not only based on its healing qualities, but also based on its preparation, its seasonal appropriateness, the condition of the body, its taste, flavor, and color, which when correctly done, makes it a form of art. Throughout the dynasties of china up to the present, you have thousands of soups, dishes, desserts, congees, herbal wines and even hundreds of books to choose from. TCM nutritional therapy is a specialized form of medicine within the entire TCM system that plays an important part in life nourishment or Yang Sheng.
Both Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine view the body in distinct ways: one depends on energy, interlinked with functioning body organs and their associated clinical manifestations or related appearances that constantly changes. The other uses an anatomical and structural model, a one-size-fits-all model. In Chinese medicine, disease may have more than one TCM pattern of disharmony and takes into account the various underlying body imbalances or root problems. A specific combo of recipes in TCM nutritional therapy can apply to a variety of pattern diagnoses.
Our objective is to guide and teach the reader on how to select the proper foods for healing and for a nourishing life. It may require a whole life time to attain our heavenly age or our maximum life span which the Chinese refer to as a life of nourishment or Yang Sheng.