A  Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine Clinic

TCM Dietary Therapy                        中医食疗
Based on the Traditions of Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Natures of Food - Flavors,  Temperatures, Routes and Actions of Food

The Temperatures of Food

The temperature of a food is a measure of its effect on the metabolism after initial digestion. People with cold
constitutions or temporary cold conditions need to eat more warming foods. Foods may also be chosen according
to season and prevailing weather.
The temperatures of food are indicated by the following:
Hot, Warm, Neutral, Cool, Cold (also called 4 classes of
food). The preparation of food will increase or decrease its innate temperature as follows:
  • Raw, Chilled                        most cooling
  • Steamed, Poached             cooling
  • Boiled                                 neutral
  • Stir-fried                             mildly warming
  • Casseroled, Baked             warming
  • Deep-fried                          heating
  • Roasted, Grilled                 most heating

The Five Flavors of Food

Each food is classified as having one or more flavors. Each flavor has a specific effect and benefits a particular
Organ. The balance of flavours may be tilted to suit our energetic needs.
  1. Sweet flavor arises from the Earth element and benefits the Spleen. Sweet foods strengthen, moisten and
  2. Pungent flavor arises from the Metal element and benefits the Lung. Pungent foods disperse stagnation and
    promote flow.
  3. Salty flavor arises from the Water element and benefits the Kidney. Salty foods moisten, soften and detoxify.
  4. Sour flavor arises from the wood element and benefits the liver. Sour foods stimulate absorption and
    contraction, helping break down fat.
  5. Bitter flavor arises from the Fire element and benefits the Heart. Bitter foods drain and counteract Dampness.

The Routes and Actions of Food

The tonifying and regulating actions of food have a general influence on the whole system and a specific influence
on certain Organs to which they are carried by the meridians. This enables us to direct a particular effect towards a
particular Organ.