Finding Balance: TCM Food Therapy and How to Reduce Heatiness in Body

5 min read


By Wing Joo Loong Team

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese medicine categorises foods into a spectrum of five energies based on their effects on the body: cold, cool, neutral, warm, hot (寒 hán, 凉 liáng, 平 píng, 温 wēn, 热 rè).
  • Hot and warming foods, such as chilli and hawthorn, can aid to boost your body's vigour, while cooling foods like green bean, luo han guo and chrysanthemum help to reduce heatiness and clear toxins.
  • A balanced diet, incorporating foods with different energies, is crucial for overall wellness.

Did you know? The foods you eat have their own energies.

A balanced diet goes beyond proteins, veggies and carbohydrates. Understanding the concept of the five energies allows you to make well-informed dietary choices to support your overall wellness. TCM food therapy utilises this knowledge to address symptoms of imbalance. Let us dive deeper and explore the list of common foods under each category.

Understanding the five energies of food


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), foods are categorised into a spectrum of five energies: cold, cool, neutral, warm, hot (寒 hán, 凉 liáng, 平 píng, 温 wēn, 热 rè). This classification is not based on the temperature of the foods, but the effects these foods have on our bodies’ internal balance.

For example, a warm cup of peppermint tea still brings a refreshing sensation, as peppermint is a herb with a cooling thermal nature. A chilled durian puff would not remove the warming nature of the fruit.

It is important to remember that this categorisation is a spectrum. According to the Chinese medicine pharmacopoeia, some foods and herbs may fall in between two energies; chrysanthemum is one, with an energy property that’s between cooling to cold.

How foods and their energetic properties help to balance the body

To craft a well-thought and balanced dietary plan, you need to consider your body constitution as well as external factors such as the weather. Generally, individuals with overwhelming Yang energy (associated with invigoration and activeness) might be advised to consume more cooling foods to counter that heat and vice versa.

That said, eating foods of a single type would also tip your body’s harmony. A healthy diet is all about balance by including a good mix of warming, cooling and neutral foods into your meals.

Cooling and cold foods


Cooling foods or foods with Yin energy are often recommended to clear heat, toxins and dampness as well as reduce inflammation. Yin represents the nourishing, calming and cooling aspects of the body. In short, these foods can help to reduce heatiness, which is rather common in Singapore with our all-year-long summer climate and our love for rich, spicy and fried foods.

Those struggling with signs of heatiness such as fever, sore throat, mouth ulcers and acne could consume the following cooling foods to restore balance.

A list of common cooling and cold foods

Hot and warming foods

On the other hand, hot and warming foods are associated with Yang energy - the warming, invigorating and stimulating aspects. Warm foods can vitalise and nourish your Qi (vital energy), improving blood circulation to boost vigour.

If you often have cold hands and feet, pale complexion, poor digestion and fatigue, you might be lacking some Yang foods to balance things out. However, while fried, oily and spicy items are also considered ‘heaty’ foods, these high-fat, high-sodium contents will not aid your body’s balance. So put away the chicken nuggets, and include these into your diet instead.

A list of common hot and warming foods

Neutral foods

Neutral foods create neither excess heat nor cooling effects on the body, and can be used as part of a diet to maintain internal balance. They can also be used to support digestion for those with weaker stomachs.

A list of common neutral foods

Social with us

Join our tribe on Facebook and Instagram for more bite-size TCM knowledge to guide your wellness journey.

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation."

Any self-care tips to help manage menstrual pains?

1.Avoid cold drinks, reduce water sports, and keep warm before your expected menstrual period.

2.Drink Brown Sugar Ginger Tea 2 days before menstruation starts or when menstrual cramps occur. Boil 15g of brown sugar and 15g of young ginger in a pot of water.

3.Acupressure massage for pain relief:

He Gu Acupoint

Location: Tender point found on the back of the hand between the thumb and the index finger

Function: He Gu Acupoint is a common point used to relieve pain and can help to relieve painful period cramps

How to massage: Press the acupoint with your other thumb and massage for 1 minute each time

Tai Chong Acupoint

Location: Tender point between the big toe and second toe

Function: Tai Chong Acupoint belongs to the Liver meridian and can help to improve Qi circulation to help improve mood and reduce irritability

How to massage: Press on the acupoint with your thumb and massage for 1 minute each time

Qi Hai Acupoint

Location: 1.5 inches below the belly button

Function: Qi Hai literally translates to “Sea of Energy” and is believed to be the point on the body where Qi gathers. Pressing this acupoint can help to increase Qi and energy and reduce bloating

How to massage: Press with your index and middle finger and massage for 1 minute each time

4.Add TCM herbs to your cooking or as dietary supplements

  • Angelica root (当归): Nourishes blood, regulates menstrual cycle and improves blood flow
  • Rehmannia (熟地): Nourishes Kidney, regulates menstrual cycle and improves blood circulation
  • Red peony root (赤芍): Improves blood circulation and relieves pain
  • Sichuan loveage root (川芎): Improves both Qi and Blood circulation

5.Exercise moderately to improve blood circulation, strengthen immunity, and increase Qi to overcome fatigue during menstruation.

Any self-care tips to help manage menstrual pains?

The information above serves as a general guide only. Please consult a certified TCM physician for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Subscribe to our latest news and
exclusive promotions!

Subscribe to our latest news and
exclusive promotions!

Subscribe to our latest news and exclusive promotions!

Women's Health

Uterus Health

Pain Management

Featured in this article

You may also like


Get wellness tips and the inside scoop
on new launches and deals!

By subscribing to our newsletter, you agree to our Privacy Policy.

© 2024 Wing Joo Loong