Pacific Wellness Institute Clinic: Bloor-Yorkville Toronto

Kampo and TCM Dietary Consultation

Kampo and TCM Nutrition recommendations are available for our acupuncture patients. 


Infographic: Thermal Nature of Foods Based on TCM Asian Medicine


What is Kampo / Traditional Chinese Medicine Diet?

Proper diet is very important for the recovery from many illnesses, as well as for the maintenance of good health. In fact, it is so important that diet has been deemed an integral part of acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine, as food therapy. In Kampo, it is called Shokuyou, and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this practice is known as Shi Liao.

In Western nutrition, the individual approach will primarily focus on analyzing the nutritional values of each portion or meal. Kampo and TCM, by contrast, emphasize the characteristics of whole foods, reflecting how they consider that every food has specific thermal characteristics, known as nature and flavour. Foods can be hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold. Acupuncturists consider these characteristics as elements that will affect an individual’s constitution. The main diagnostic criteria for patients include signs of repletion/vacuity, heat/cold, and dampness/dryness. 

For example, a Western nutritionist may recommend a salad containing ingredients like lettuce, tomatoes, and oranges simply as a source of vitamins to a broad range of patients. According to the thermal nature of foods in Kampo and TCM, however, foods such as lettuce, tomatoes, and oranges are considered cold or cool. Thus, the over-consumption of such vegetables and fruits is not recommended for certain group of individuals (e.g., cold/spleen vacuity types). Conversely, if clients are expressing heat constitutional patterns, they may be encouraged to eat those foods that are cold or cool in nature. Ginger provides another interesting contrast. From a Western nutrition analysis point of view, ginger can be seen as simply a source of potassium. In Kampo and TCM, however, ginger is extremely valuable as both an herb and a medicinal food. The warming effect of ginger is highly valuable for patients with a cold constitution, and when combined with other herbs, it is able to enhance the effects of other warming herbs and decrease the undesirable side effects of herbs with cooling natures.  


Examples of Thermal Natures of Foods and Beverages

Cold: Green tea, Caviar, Crab, Miso, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Watermelon, Kelp, Salt, Asparagus, Cucumber

Cool: Beer, White wine, Butter, Sour cream, Banana, Blackberry, Lemon, Mango, Melon, Orange, Pear, Strawberry, Tofu, Celery, Lettuce, Spinach, Tomato, Zucchini

Warm: Red wine, Black tea, Coffee, Mussel, Salmon, Shrimp, Tuna, Cherry, Peach, Rye, Beef, Chicken, Coconut, Clove, Curry, Garlic, Ginger, Onion, Pumpkin

Hot: Lamb, Black pepper, Cayenne pepper, Cinnamon, White pepper, Sichuan pepper

For more information about Thermal Nature of Foods, please visit our sister site:

In general, it is considered extremely important that the digestive tract always be kept warm, especially in vacuity- and cold-type individuals. Many people, especially young females, overeat raw vegetable salads and fruits. Eating a large bowl of vegetable salad may be good for replete body types that tend to accumulate heat(typically, individuals with such  constitutions tend to develop heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke).  On the other hand, for individuals with other constitutional types, such as vacuity with cold, consuming large amounts of raw vegetables and fruits may not be beneficial. A patient’s constitution can be determined by reviewing his/her health history in conjunction with assessing other physical signs (the pulse, tongue, abdomen, and so on).

The main tenet of the Kampo and TCM diet is concept of balancing the Yin (cold) and the Yang (warm). Traditional East Asian medicine practitioners provide general dietary guidelines based on each patient’s constitutional pattern. For patients with a Yin constitution, it is recommended that they consume more Yang foods and minimize their intake of foods with a Yin nature. For Yang patient the opposite is recommended: their practitioner will recommend that they eat more Yin foods and decrease their intake of foods with a Yang nature. This balance is integral to understanding the Kampo diet.


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