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  • Writer's picturePhilip Niño Tan-Gatue

Chinese Dietary Therapy: Foods that Tonify

Chinese Dietary Therapy

I have often said that Chinese materia medica is an extension of Chinese dietary habits.  A cursory examination of the oldest herbal formulas reveals not the use of exotic animal parts, but kitchen spices such as cinnamon and ginger.  Sun Simiao once said that the foundation of good health lies in diet.  Hence, even if one takes medicines or undergoes acupuncture treatment, it is helpful to know what foods can help with the condition or what foods must be avoided.

Chinese Dietary Therapy

Chinese Dietary Therapy is an integral part of Chinese Medicine. Photo by Naypong /


In this article, let’s examine foods that used for tonification.  Tonification means adding something to make up for something that is lacking.  In Chinese Medicine, we talk about deficiencies of yin and yang, qi and Blood.

Foods that Tonify Qi

These include round-grained non-glutinous rice, polished glutinous rice, millet, polished long-grained non-glutinous rice, soybean, bean curd, beef, chicken, rabbit meat, quail, chicken egg, quail egg, potato, carrot, dates, and others.

Foods that Tonify Blood

Pork, mutton, pork liver, sheep’s liver, ox’s liver, turtle, sea cucumber, spinach, carrot, black fungus, mulberry can all be used to tonify blood.

Foods that Nourish Yin

Duck egg, turtle, cuttlefish, pig skin, duck meat, mulberry fruit, goji berries, black fungus, white fungus can be used for yin deficiency.

Foods that Nourish Yang

These include walnut, garlic, sword bean, mutton, dog meat, sparrow meat and shrimp.

Next up will be Foods that purge away excesses and pathogens. – Foods that relieve tonsillitis.


Liu Zhanwen, Ma Lieguang, et al. Health Preservation of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  People’s Medical Publishing House, Beijing. 2007

#chinesedietarytherapy #foodasmedicine

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