Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a more than 5000 years old healing art anchored in China, which consists of acupuncture, acupressure, Chinese herbal medicine, moxa, cupping, Chinese massage called Tui Na and the study of nutrition – the 5-Element theory.
TCM has an in depth knowledge about internal and external processes of our body. In this way of thinking our body has a life force which is called Qi that moves through the body, moving with it blood and body fluids.
Traditional Chinese Medicine works with the concept that there are channels or energy lines called meridians, through which Qi flows through the body. There are 12 main meridians. Each meridian is correlated to an organ or organ system. Each organ and meridian can be correlated with one of the Chinese elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) in pairs, each Pair representing either the yin or the yang aspect of the element. Yin and yang represent opposite but complementary qualities.
Yin is the soft, receiving, inward movement, front of the body & right side, substantial and cold aspect
yang is the hard, expanding, back of the body & left side, outward movement, immaterial and heat, fire aspect.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that health is the state where Qi flows freely. Symptoms indicate energetic states in their yin or yang qualities: hot or cold, damp or dry, empty or stagnated. If these states are not shifted, they can become manifested states which show themselves as permanent health problems.
But TCM believes health is continually moving, similar to the rhythm of our breath and blood flow, and that we can re-establish a balanced state of health by addressing the health problem holistically from all directions.
5-Element theory and TCM Nutrition
There are 5-Elements in Chinese Medicine: earth, metal, water, wood and fire. There are specific foods and taste qualities that are connected with these elements. As symptoms are seen in connection with these elements also, foods have a direct influence on ailments and states of health on a physical and energetic level.
According to the seasonal influences our bodies have different requirements and changes in diet are indicated.
The different tastes qualities of food have therapeutic indications that also want to be considered:
- Sour foods (Wood) are mostly cooling (yin) and the supported energy is to contract and to collect.
- Bitter foods (Fire) are mostly cooling (yin) as well, the energy is contracting and descending.
- Sweet foods (Earth) are mostly strengthening (yang), the energy can expand upward and outward.
- Pungent foods (Metal) are mostly warming (yang), the energy is expanding and moves outward.
- Salty foods (Water) are mostly cooling (Yin) and the energy moves in and out.