You have probably heard of food therapy, and not realized that the Chinese name for this is Shi Liao, and this is actually a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It may also be referred to as food cure. Food plays a much larger role in our lives than most of us realize it does more than just sooth hunger, it also has a starring role in our overall health condition.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, food therapy is extremely important because it is believed that food has medicinal properties. The practice and belief only apply to natural foods, as opposed to processed or refined foods. These foods include various types of meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, and nuts. Surprisingly, it also includes alcoholic drinks, such as wine or even hard liquor.
Through the practice of TCM, various natural foods or beverages are essentially prescribed for the treatment of specific ailments, or the prevention of specific ailments. Foods can be used to treat or prevent multiple ailments or health concerns at the same time in most case. The ‘prescription’ may also include a good mix of herbs, and will usually specify how much of the foods or the food mixtures should be consumed each day – and for how long.
As you may know, Traditional Chinese Medicine relies heavily on the bodies meridians, which all are important to our inner balance, or yin and yang. Shi Liao operates on the foundation that certain foods affect certain meridians, such as the stomach. Different foods have different ‘heats’ as well, such as cool, warm, or neutral. Sometimes, it is determined that a meridian is cool, which would call for a food that is considered warm to heat it. If the meridian is wet, it would need a food that is considered dry to dry it.
Shi Liao has an extremely long history in China. It has been known about, taught, and practiced in China for thousands of years. The practice originally began with mixtures of herbs, which often resulted in concoctions that tasted horrible, and often upset the digestive system.
Fortunately, even that long ago experimentation was done on a regular basis. We call such experimentation today Research. Eventually, it was discovered that just as herbs have certain medicinal properties, foods have certain medicinal properties as well. This is why food and herbs are often mixed together for use in TCM. It was also discovered that the medicinal properties of herbs can interact with the medicinal properties of food for specific effects, based on the medicinal properties of both.
In most cases, when food therapy is prescribed in TCM, the practitioner does not invent a recipe. Instead, he will refer to recipes that have been used for thousands of years – effectively.