Tse Qigong Centre

5 Element Healthy Cooking


Brief History of Chinese Food Cures

Food has been used as medicine for many thousands of years. Even as early as the Shang Dynasty (17-11 BC) inscriptions on bones and turtle shells recorded treatments of stomach disease using fish as well as other herbal remedies. In the Western Zhou Dynasty (11-771 BC), in the treatise Rites of the Zhou Dynasty, there were references to the achievements of a food doctor who used foods for curing illness. In the Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) there was a move to combine both food and herbs together for treating disease. Later in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D), food and herbal therapy gained even more recognition. Part of its popularity was due to a man called Sun Si Miao who lived to over 100 years of age, despite being born of poor health and suffering illness all through his childhood.


He studied Rujia (Confucian classics) but also was interested in medicine and Daoism. After completing his education, he began to travel to learn more about the collection and uses of herbs. He also began to study Daosim in earnest and eventually made his home on Wubai Mountain. Throughout the remainder of his life, he tried to help anyone ill and he wrote several books. One of these books was Essentially Treasured Prescriptions for Emergencies whose first chapter discussed using food for curing illness. Sun Si Miao said that in order to be healthy one must not overeat, must chew food properly and eat food that is clean and which has been properly prepared. He said that food alone cannot make one healthy and prescribed exercise to keep the joints flexible. In later dynasties food cures continued to be developed but it was in the Qing Dynasty that food therapy reached its real peak and many books on the subject were published, including Food Therapy for Common Diseases and Fei’s Heath Preservation by Food. Food therapy was no longer for the privileged and the royalty but was for the masses.


Modern Times

Today, we have a choice of many foods from many different cultures. There are also choices of foods that, in the past, would only have been available during that country’s growing season. Now we can have Hawaiian pineapple, California strawberries and Peruvian asparagus in the middle of an English winter. Whilst this means our diet need never be boring, it also means that we have lost how to eat in harmony with nature. Things which grow naturally in an area are usually things that the body needs to balance itself during that season so if we are eating watermelon in winter, it can create too much cold energy in the body. For a person who already has a weak constitution, this can make their Qi even weaker and so they can easily get ill.


Principles of Chinese Food Cures

Chinese healthy eating can help us to balance our body by following the principles of Yin/Yang and the Five Elements. All foods have their own energy be it cooling (Yin) or heating (Yang). There are also foods that are neutral and these are used to balance other ingredients. In addition to Yin and Yang, each food has its own taste which accords with the Five Element Theory. The Five Elements also relate to the five internal organs, five seasons, five emotions, five colours, etc.  When we understand the Five Element theory, this can help us to diagnose illness and find curative foods that will help to nourish and heal the body.


Five Element Healthy Cooking

The Tse Qigong Centre Five Element Healthy Cooking courses will help participants to form an understanding of how to diagnose body types (Yin or Yang) so that proper foods remedies can then be used. Further teachings on the Five Elements and the properties of different foods will help to deepen knowledge on an on-going basis. 
Food will be prepared in an informal and enjoyable atmosphere on all courses and there will be time to sit down and eat the food prepared and answer any questions. Recipes of foods cooked will be provided to all participants. For seminars visit our seminar pages.












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