TCM Food Guide


BASIC TCM FOOD RULES

HYPERHIDROSIS - Easily sweating body type

ECZEMA AND RASH

INFERTILITY

HEMORRHOIDS

HEADACHES

COUGH

YING AND YANG FOODS

THE 5 TASTES

BODY TYPE

Basic TCM Food Rules:

Proper diet, both what and how we eat, is fundamental in maintaining health and longevity.  Diet is so essential, that it is considered the first line of defense in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  In most cases, the patient must change a few food habits before the herbs can work properly.  In severe cases, medicinal herbs are not given at all, unless the diet is completely revamped.  

There are neither absolutely forbidden foods nor "one size fits all" diet fads in TCM.  For example, sugary foods are generally not recommended.  Nonetheless, sugar is sometimes included in an herbal formula because the patient needs it for their condition.  For example, rock sugar and crushed chuan bei mu are steamed with pear to nourish the lungs and alleviate dry coughs.  TCM’s viewpoint of a balanced diet is very different from that of the West.

Here are some basic rules:

As soon as you wake up, drink a cup of warm water to help to clean out the system before having breakfast. Everyday eat different fruits, grains, vegetables, meat, nuts, or eggs. Try not to repeat the same ingredients.  Create a digestive and nourishing rhythm within the body by eating similarly portioned meals 3 times a day at regularly designated times (8am, 12pm, and 5pm).  Stop eating before you are full.  Undereat, just a little bit, so you don’t over strain your digestive system.  For optimal health, strive to eat light, balanced meals that are easy to digest.   Lastly, avoid going to bed soon after eating.  Allow at least 2 ½ hours between eating your last bite and going to bed. 

Do drink plenty of water throughout the day, but stop all liquids 2 hours before bedtime.  It is best to avoid eating too much uncooked foods (sushi, raw veggies, etc.), greasy or deep fried foods, pickled or heavily spiced foods, and burnt meats.  Also restrict your intake of chocolate, dairy, and vitamin supplements.  Avoid fish without scales and fins and shellfish like mussels and lobsters.  If you have rash or skin disease, then stay away from chips, beef, eggs, shellfish, mango, peanut butter, pineapple, cherry, coconut meat, and durian.  No smoking, drinking alcohol, coffee, soda, artificial sweeteners and/or cold beverages.

Fish with Scales and Fins (OK to EAT) (Fishes that eat live bait)

Flounder, cod, haddock, and salmon are a few examples of fish with scales and fins. Albacore, Bass, Carp, Flounder, Grouper, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Orange Roughy, Perch, Pike, Pollock, Salmon, Sardines, Snapper, Sole, Tilapia, Trout, Tuna, Walleye, Whitefish, and Whiting are just some of the most popular fish with both fins and scales. 

Beware of eating fish without both scales and fins or fish that eat dead bait. That eliminates many types of delicious seafood including shellfish, shrimp, catfish, lobster, eel, shark, sturgeon, swordfish, and mussels.  Scientists have taken years to discover and now agree that fish with scales AND fins are equipped with a digestive system that prevents the absorption of poisons and toxins into their flesh from the waters they call home.  Catfish have fins, but do not have scales. These scavengers are primarily bottom feeders and have digestive systems designed to absorb toxins from the water. Lobster, shrimp, crab, squid, mussels, and clams do not have scales or fins and are believed to be highly toxic. They naturally absorb the toxins from the water in which they dwell.  Interestingly, lobster and crab are crustaceans and are a part of the arthropod family, which include caterpillars, cockroaches, and spiders!

Hyperhidrosis - Easily sweating body type

A person who easily sweats from armpits, forehead, feet or the whole body

All of the spicy and heavy tastes increase the internal heat and can stimulate the secretion in the sweat glands. Those who sweat easily must avoid and eat less of the yang property kind of food such as pepper, mustard, lamb, fennel, mango, durian, cherry, jackfruits, star anise, cinnamon, chicken, and lychee, food that is deep fried, spicy, and heavy flavors, and stop smoking. Food that are suitable to eat would be grape, radish, honey, pear, tomato, spinach, cabbage, black bean, walnut, sprout, sesame, longan, kelp, yam, lotus seed, snow ear, pig liver, black fish, clam meat, duck, eggs, etc.

 

Eczema and Rash

Food guidelines for the people who have skin diseases with rash

The old saying “We are what we eat” because of the food and toxic we had and not be able to clean out system and which is why we have those diseases.  Some foods such as seafood, shrimp, crab, cock, pig’s head meat, lamb, dog meat, goose meat, bamboo shoots, fermented bean curd, cheese, milk etc., often cause recurrence of the old diseases, commonly known as “flare up" food in TCM, patients should eat less in those. Especially if you are in the acute attack period, if you can pay extra attention to the diet which can help minimize the extra toxic intake into the body.  Some hot foods such as red dates, gingers, peanut butter and wine should not be eaten or drink at the time that rashes flare up.

Having rashes and itchy could affects the quality of sleep, you can try to take these to help to sleep better - foods such as lotus seeds, lily, jujube kernels, oyster meat, orange, papaya, longan, wheat, pig heart, yellow croaker, mushroom, rishi mushroom, cypress

For older people who have rash

Older people with rash is more related to blood deficiency and wind, should eat more of the nourishing Yin and nourishing products, such as spinach, pine nuts, sea cucumber, lychee, grapes, black sesame, eggs and so on.

For people who have heated blood with rash

Rash with heated blood - suitable foods such as white radish, melon, loofah, celery, millet, barley, mung bean, tofu, wheat, watermelon, pear, apple, citrus, water chestnut, coix seed, buckwheat, duck egg, bitter gourd, lotus root, tomato, vegetable wild-rice, water chestnuts, seaweed, kelp, sage, banana, melon, mulberry, snail, gourd

When itching is severe and accompanied with redness and rash, should eat more yin, cool property kind of food to help to cool the blood and detox which including chives, cabbage, leaf mustard, taro, kelp, seaweed, tofu, mung bean, cucumber, bitter gourd, pigweed, purslane, green tea etc.

For people who expose to the cold weather and feel itchy

Itchy during cold weather - suitable foods such as basil leaves, ginger, schizonepeta, cinnamon, alfalfa, scallion

 

Infertility

Foods that improve the quality of the female egg and male sperm 

In the treatment of infertility, TCM works on both the ability to conceive and the ability to carry the pregnancy to full term.  With respect to conception, certain foods are known for improving the quality of the egg and sperm.   Daily consumption of at least one of these foods: fungus, walnut, lotus seed, fox nut, leeks, loach, oyster, catfish, shrimp, fish belly, sea cucumber, abalone, lamb, beef, venison, sparrow, and animal kidney can enhance fertility.   

Besides improving egg and sperm quality, fortifying the parent-to-be’s overall health with the proper foods increases the odds of both conception and the mother’s ability to carry the pregnancy to full term.  Examples of food therapy for certain conditions follow below: 

  • For people with Kidney deficiency, walnut, goji berry, Chinese yam, and black sesame are nourishing foods.
  • For people with Liver depression, citron, fingered citron or Buddha’s hand, and dried tangerine peel are beneficial.
  • For people with Dampness, poria, coix seed, adzuki bean help drain excess fluids.
  • For people with Blood stagnation, hawthorn, peach kernel, seaweed, and kelp help invigorate blood flow.   

This is only a partial list.  To get a complete assessment of your condition and proper food or herbal recommendation, please contact us.  

 

Hemorrhoids

For internal and or external hemorrhoid food diet

All of the spicy and heavy tastes increase the internal heat and can stimulate the hemorrhoid of the anus area. Those who have hemorrhoid must avoid and eat less of the yang property kind of food such as pepper, mustard, greasy, grilled, pungent food, chocolate, shellfish, lamb, fennel, mango, durian, cherry, jackfruits, star anise, cinnamon, beef, and lychee, deep fried, spicy, and heavy flavors, and stop smoking. Oily and fatty foods which can create Dampness, spicy food perpetuate heat and alcohol worsens both Heat and Dampness; need to eat less or not to eat at all.  

Foods that are suitable to eat would be grape, radish, honey, pear, tomato, spinach, cabbage, black bean, walnut, sprout, sesame, kelp, yam, lotus seed, snow ear, pig liver, black fish, clam meat, duck, eggs, etc.

 

Headaches

Dietary guidelines for combatting recurring headaches 

Headaches can be caused by a variety of factors such as lack of sleep, excessive dampness, and mucus accumulation, internal heat, catching a cold or insufficient blood going to the head.   

It is best to have three regular meals at the same time with similar portions each day.  A balanced diet of 60-70% vegetables, 5-15% meat, and 30-40% grains is optimal.  Vegetables provide essential vitamins and antioxidants.  Meats provide protein to build blood and the yang energy to balance the yin of vegetables.  Excessive grain consumption causes mucus, but eliminating grains completely causes dryness.  Therefore, grains are necessary for a balanced diet.  Eat a variety of foods, but don’t overeat -stop eating right before you are full.   

If you already know that certain foods cause headaches, try to avoid or minimize intake of those foods. Common foods that induce headaches are chocolate, cheese, monosodium glutamate (msg), alcohol, caffeine, and preservatives, and packaged, highly processed foods. Lastly, to prevent the onset of headaches, drink plenty of water and try to sleep early.  Get in bed before 11pm and try to be sound asleep from 11pm to 7am. 

 

Cough

When you have a cough, you should avoid spicy, cold or iced drink, lemon, heavily seasoned, and strongly flavored foods such as pepper, barbequed items, popcorn, tobacco and alcohol, etc., which increase the irritation of the throat and delay the healing process.   

  • Foods that are good for the throat by clearing heat are chrysanthemum, mint, licorice, broccoli, olive, pig skin, duck egg, and tangerine.
  • Foods that reduce phlegm/mucus are mangosteen, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, radishes, loofah, kelp, seaweed, jellyfish, onions, dried tangerine peel, grapefruit, and kumquat.
  • Food that nourish and moisten the lungs are lily bulb, chuanbei, dried persimmon, rock sugar, brown sugar, almond, ladybell, Solomon’s seal, pear, fig, peanut, snow fungus, and fungus. 

If you have slightly white mucus, itchy throat, and can’t sweat, then you have a COLD cough.  You should choose foods to help expel the cold and reduce the mucus.  Spices such as ginger, scallion, garlic, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and dried tangerine peel reduce phlegm, warm the lungs and expel the cold.  As for foods, cooked radish, pumpkin, almond, peanut, vinegar, millet, koi, and silver carp are warming and appropriate for alleviating a cold cough.   

A cold cough is aggravated by eating cooling foods.  Bananas, persimmons, crab meat, clams, bamboo shoots, mint, cabbage, melons can trigger more coughing and may cause lung occlusion.  In addition, raw and cold foods like sushi and salad are hard to digest and easily generate more internal mucus, which will delay the process of recovering. 

If you can sweat, cough up yellow mucus, and have sore throat, then you have a HOT cough.  You should eat foods that clear heat and reduce mucus.  Raw radish, lotus roots, tofu, coix seed, mung bean, wheat, pear, mangosteen, persimmon, alfalfa, olive, water chestnuts, apple, strawberry, mango, pineapple, starfruit, melon, cucumber, celery, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, chrysanthemum, seaweed, jellyfish, duck are appropriate foods for a Hot cough.

A Hot cough is aggravated by eating warming foods.  Wine, deep fried, spicy foods, longan, lychee, heavily spiced stew, and pepper are warming and therefore contraindicated for a hot cough.  Eating these foods can cause more phlegm to accumulate and increase the severity and duration of the cough.  Warm, yang foods are not suitable to consume for this condition.

If you have a Dry cough or  Stubborn cough, then you should eat moistening foods such as wheat, lily bulb, honey, sugar cane, olives, snow fungus, fungus, pine nuts, chinese torreya nut, bird's nest, sesame seeds, dried persimmons, almonds, pears, tomatoes, mulberries, alfalfa, almonds milk, soy milk, figs, duck, pigskin, and silver carp.

If you suffer from a chronic cough or have a recurring cough, you should eat foods that are heated to a warm temperature or at the very least room temperature (not refrigerator cold).  Raw food is inappropriate.  Food should be steamed with minimal seasoning.  It is best to eat a variety of proteins, veggies, beans, and nuts.  You may drink almond or soy milk but stay away from lemon or lemon water, which will prolong a chronic cough. 

 

Ying and Yang foods

Using the flavor and temperature of foods to balance the Yin and Yang within the individual

  • A person who is Yang deficient tends to be cold and lethargic.  Therefore, the recommended TCM diet is higher ratio of Yang foods to Yin foods.  Yang foods supply warming, functional energy to balance a person who is too Yin.
  • A person who is Yin deficient tends to feel overly warm (especially in the chest, hands, and feet) and a bit restless.  Therefore, the recommended TCM diet is a higher ratio of Yin foods to Yang foods. Yin foods have a solidifying and cooling energy to balance a person who is too Yang.  
  • A person who has too much fluids or dampness in their system tends to feel heavy or sluggish.  Therefore, the recommended TCM diet is to restrict foods that are overly sweet, salty, and/or sour because these flavors tend to be moistening.  An excessive amount of moistening foods will exacerbate the damp condition within the person.
  • A person, who has a lack of physiological fluids, suffers from dryness (of the skin, mouth, throat, etc).  In this case, the recommended TCM diet is to eat moistening foods. However, one must be careful with the temperature of moistening foods.  The sour flavor tends to be warming, whereas the salty flavor tends to be cooling.  Therefore, if the person has a cold and dry condition, the sour flavor is appropriate.  If hot and dry, then the salty flavor is the better choice.  

Inherent Food Temperatures:  Cold, Cool, Neutral, Warm, and Hot

Cold Properties

  • Grains, Bean - mung bean
  • Milk - cow milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Sea - crab, clam, octopus, oyster, snail, jellyfish, kelp, seaweed, cuttlefish, razor fish
  • Meat - duck, field snail, pig marrow
  • Egg - duck egg
  • Fruits - banana, melon, honeydew melon, grapefruit, pomelo, watermelon, tangerine, cantaloupe, carambola/starfruit, kiwi, passion fruit, sugar cane, mongosteen, mulberry, pear, persimmon
  • Vegetables - water spinach, bamboo shoots, lotus roots, bitter gourd, tomato, water chestnut, soybean bud, sprouts, watercress, sea lettuce, mushroom, lettuce, bok-choy, bitter melon
  • Drink – chrysanthemum, green tea, aloe vera
  • Season - salt, soy sauce 

Cool Properties

  • Grains, Bean - millet, coix seed, wheat, barley, buckwheat, yellow split pea
  • Milk - soy milk, coconut milk
  • Sea - crab, clam, octopus, oyster, snail, jellyfish, kelp, seaweed, cuttlefish
  • Meat - rabbit meat, pig skin, frog
  • Egg - thousand year egg, egg white
  • Fruits - apple, pineapple, strawberry, orange, citrus, loquat, mango, papaya
  • Vegetables - eggplant, cucumber, loofah, white radish, celtuce, cauliflower, broccoli, chard, celery, leaf mustard, cabbage, chinese spinach, spinach, oil wheat, chinese kale, flowering chinese cabbage, leaf of chinese wolfberry, lily, pea, tofu, tofu skin
  • Drink - honeysuckle tea, kapok tea, hibiscus tea, lily flower tea, apocynum tea, camellia tea, mountain tea, hops tea, marigold tea, meddler flower tea, silk flowers, beer
  • Season – vegetable oil

 Neutral Properties

  • Grains, Bean - rice, zucchini, oats, whit sesame, black sesame, black rice, peas, red beans, white beans, soybeans, edamame, lentils, broad beans, kidney beans, lentils
  • Milk - rice milk, almond milk
  • Sea - water turtle, sea shrimp, squid, turn, shark, rubber fish, sea cucumber, stingray, abalone, squid, sardine, silver fish, stingray, sea bream, sea urchin, surimi, scallop
  • Nut - peanut, lotus seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, ginkgo, pumpkin seeds, almond
  • Meat - pork, goose, water turtle, snake meat, donkey, pigeon, quail
  • Egg - pigeon egg, quail egg, egg yolk
  • Fruits - plum, apricot, coconut, figs, raspberry, grapes, peach
  • Vegetables - corn, taro, sweet potato, potato, leeks, kohlrabi, broccoli, beet, carrots, plums, figs, grapes, lemon, olive, black fungus, snow fungus, shiitake mushroom, sea shrimp, squid, loach, chinese cabbage, cabbage, sage, broccoli, turnip, lentils, yuan vegetables, broken rice bran, yam, water lily, gourd, artichoke, shiitake mushroom, bamboo stalk, black fungus, oyster mushroom, chicken leg mushroom, sea cabbage, puffball, monkey head mushroom, fern, corn mustard
  • Drink - honey, bird’s nest, black tea, plum tea, mimosa tea, peach tea, lotus tea
  • Season – white sugar, rock sugar, monosodium glutamate(msg), soybean oil, peanut oil, sesame oil

 Warm Properties

  • Grains, Bean - sweet rice, sword beans, black beans
  • Milk - goat's milk
  • Sea - water turtle, sea shrimp, squid, turn, shark, rubber fish, sea cucumber, stingray, abalone, squid, sardine, silver fish, stingray, sea bream, sea urchin, surimi, scallop, mussel
  • Nuts - pistachios, walnut, pine nuts
  • Meat - sheep bone, sheep marrow, tripe, golden ham, chicken, black-bone chicken, swordfish, salmon, silkworm cocoon, lamb, beef, bone marrow
  • Egg – goose egg, sparrow eggs
  • Fruits - kumquat, pomegranate, guava, jujube, lemon (sweet), rambutan, hawthorn, cranberry, cherry, lychee, longan, jackfruit, bergamot
  • Vegetables - pumpkin, asparagus, sweet peppers, green mint, bergamot, sage
  • Drink - jasmine, nutmeg, red wine, rice wine, white orchid tea, magnolia tea, azalea tea, calendula tea, rosemary tea, thyme tea, spearmint tea, royal jelly, rose flower tea
  • Season - vinegar

 Hot Properties 

  • Meat - venison
  • Fruits - durian
  • Vegetables – onions, green onions, jujube, bayberry, shallot, sage
  • Drink - coffee, ginger, liquor
  • Season - pepper, cinnamon, dried ginger, chili, star anise, cumin, maltose, sucrose and mustard

The 5 Tastes

A balanced diet is one which includes all 5 tastes - spicy, sour, bitter, sweet, and salty. Foods and herbs which have a particular taste tend to have particular properties. For example,

  • Bitter herbs and foods tend to be drying and cold. This tends to make them good for treating Damp Heat conditions, but contraindicated for people who are too Cold and/or too Dry. Many of them have antibiotic-like properties.
  • The herbs and foods with a salty taste tend to be warming and moistening. This tends to make them great for treating people who suffer from Cold and Dryness, but they should be used cautiously in people who are Hot and Damp.
  • Sour-tasting herbs and foods tend to have heating energy and be moistening. Astringent herbs and foods tend to be cooling and drying. (These remarks about taste are general because there are exceptions.)
  • A bland taste is recognized. These herbs and foods tend to have the effect of being able to go places in the body where other tastes cannot go and of draining Dampness.

A food or herb can have more than one taste. For example, the herb Wu Wei Zi (五味子) is prized because it contains all 5 tastes. In fact, its name translates as Five Flavor Seed. The ratios of the tastes vary according the individual's needs and the season of the year. On the other hand, the foods with astringent, spicy, and bitter tastes can be great for people who are too Damp but good for people who are too Dry. The astringent herbs and foods tend to be cooling, the bitter herbs even more so than the astringent, and the spicy herbs and foods tend to be very heating. 

In addition, certain tastes have an affinity for certain organ systems in the body. For example;

  • the salty taste has an affinity for the Kidneys (and Bladder)
  • Sometimes dishes are salted in order to get the properties of the food to the Kidneys
  • Sour tends to have an affinity for the Liver and Gall Bladder
  • Bitter has an affinity for the Heart and Small Intestine
  • Spicy for the Lungs and Large Intestine
  • Sweet for the Spleen (aka Spleen-Pancreas) and Stomach

For example, salt is harmful for many people and will raise blood pressure in many individuals. These people will benefit from a low salt diet. But a low salt diet can have a devastating effect on people with adrenal insufficiency or Neutrally Mediated Hypotension.

Most people need to drink more water, but some people - like those with epilepsy - can be harmed by this practice (if they aren't very careful to eat something at the same time, even if it's just a cracker). Some people require more fat in the diet than others.

But you can eat the wrong things at the wrong time and aggravate an existing condition. 

Many food restrictions come from Victor-Vanquished Rule of the 5 Elements. Basically this rule states organ systems having an inverse relationship with each other. When one gets stronger, the other gets weakened in Victor-Vanquished relationships. For example, if too much energy accumulates in the Liver, it can attack the Spleen. The term for this is Liver Invading the Spleen (because the Liver is too strong - the Liver also can invade the Spleen because the Spleen is too weak). In any event, Liver Invading the Spleen would have affecting with the digestion and can cause pain. If a person with a weak Spleen eats something sour (which has an affinity with the Liver) it's energizing the Liver and weakening the Spleen still more because of this inverse, Victor-Vanquished relationship between the Liver and the Spleen.

Sometimes the Element which normally is the Vanquished one will turn the tables on the Element which normally is the Victor in these relationships. When this happens it's referred to as "Insulting". In this case Earth (Spleen) Insulting Wood (Liver).

Here are some examples of the food or fruits with five tastes which are spicy, sour, bitter, sweet, and salty


Spicy - (lungs and large intestine, expel cold or heat, regular qi, regular blood flow, tonify stomach digestion) such as ginger, onion, green onions, shallots, pepper, garlic, celery, coriander, leeks, fennel, spearmint herb, white radish, pepper, sweet pepper, kohlrabi, taro, mustard leaf, small leeks, cinnamon, dried tangerine peel, bergamot, kumquat, mustard and wine

Sweet - (spleen and stomach, nourishing, relax tension, moisturizing the heat) such as honey, jujube, shiitake mushroom, taro, sweet potato, potato, pumpkin, carrot, pea, soybean, rice, wheat, black bean, glutinous rice, corn, sugarcane, peanut, milk, apple , pears, cherries, chestnuts, grapes, lotus seeds, longan, koi, abalone

Sour - (liver and gallbladder, convergence, astringing, stop diarrhea) such as lemon, tomato, pineapple, apple, strawberry, papaya, pear, alfalfa, orange, kumquat, peach, hawthorn, olive, pomegranate, plum, pomelo, mango, plum, vinegar, royal jelly, grapes, red eyes trout, purslane, red beans, lychee, fingered citron

Bitter - (heart and small intestine, release, clear heat, drawdown, dampness, tonify stomach) such as bitter gourd, lactuca sativa, wine, vinegar, lotus leaf, tea leaf, kohlrabi, almond, lily, ginkgo, plum, plum seed, peach, seaweed, pig liver, fingered citron, sagittaria, sophora flower, asparagus, coffee, beer


Salty - (kidney and bladder, soften, loosen, moist, nourish blood) such as leek, millet, barley, seaweed, jelly fish, seaweed, kelp, clam, shrimp, crab, sea cucumber, snail, pork, pig marrow, pig blood, pig offal, oyster, razor clam, mussels, ham, pigeon eggs, abalone, duck, squid

 

Body Type specific foods

Body Constitutions

It’s hard to know what to eat if you don’t know your body constitution. TCM categorizes five different body constitutions. The body’s make up is influenced by congenital and acquired factors, which vary from person to person. Your body's metabolism, structure, and organ systems all work synergistically to fend off disease and the effects of time.  The five different types of physical constitutions are: Neutral, Yin and Cold, Yang and Hot, Phlegm and Dampness, and Dry.

Neutral Type

This constitution is ideal because the body’s metabolism, structure, and organ systems are in balance and the person does not have any health complaints.  This type of person tends to exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Healthy with vibrant skin tone
  • Proper appetite and sound, restful sleep
  • Don’t feel hot or cold easily
  • Light yellow urine, 4-6x per day; Light brown, banana shaped stool, 1x per day
  • Soft, moist, pink colored tongue that moves easily.
  • No teeth marks on the edge of the tongue
  • No dark purplish spots on the tongue
  • No red, purple, or black patches or dots scattered on the tip and sides of the tongue
  • No cracks, sores, or blisters on the tongue
  • No thick yellow, white, or black coating on the tongue   

Yang and hot type

This type of person has a sturdy build and is very sensitive to warm temperatures. This constitution tends to exhibit the following characteristics:

Frequently feel hot

  • Have a reddish complexion
  • Mouth dryness
  • Prefer cold drinks when thirsty
  • Easily annoyed
  • Bouts of insomnia
  • Scanty urine of a dark color
  • Hard stools
  • Yellow tongue coating
  • Red tongue

Yin and Cold Type

This type of person has a frail body and is very sensitive to cold temperatures. This constitution tends to exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Frequently feel cold
  • Have a pale or whitish complexion
  • Dislike of  wind or cold drafts
  • Limbs are cold
  • Prefer hot or warm food and drinks
  • Reluctant to speak
  • Tire easily
  • Frequent, clear urination with soft stools and a tendency to suffer diarrhea
  • Pink tongue with a whitish coating

Phlegm and Damp Type

This type of person tends to become overweight or bloated from water retention. They may appear fat and drained of energy and are very sensitive to damp weather.  This constitution tends to exhibit the following characteristics: 

  • Prefer sweet foods
  • Heaviness in the body
  • Get dizzy or tired easily
  • Look fatigued and sleepy all day
  • Prone to snoring
  • Low metabolic rate
  • The tongue has teeth marks on the edge of the tongue
  • The tongue looks moist and bulky, and is covered with a greasy coating

Dry type

This type of person tends to be skinny and does not gain weight easily.  They are very sensitive to low humidity levels. This constitution tends to exhibit the following characteristics (all due to lack of lubrication):

  • Feel thirsty easily
  • Experience dryness in the eyes, throat, lips, and skin
  • Itchy skin, nose, or eyes
  • Constipation
  • Cough without mucus

In reality it is difficult to classify a person as being one type specifically when in fact they are usually a blend of constitutions.  For example, a person might be a blend of cold and dry; damp and hot; or cold and deficient. You should always mix different flavors and energies according to your needs when planning a balanced diet. Your TCM doctor may guide you with Chinese dietary advice, which is not limited to only Chinese recipes but inclusive of all ethnic cuisines.  Eating properly for your constitution is a conscious process of shifting to a more balanced diet. The shift will not restrict your diet; you may give up or limit some foods but you may also discover a whole variety of foods that you have never tried before.