The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) View of RAW DIETS

Concerned about weight gain or loss? Feeling overwhelmed from many nutritional suggestions? With all the different information and conflicting views provided on food and diets, who do you believe? And is an all raw diet really the best?

In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), there are no “good” or “bad” foods; only appropriate/inappropriate energetic foods for every constitutional need. Remember that foods have different energetic qualities. For example, certain foods can be warming or cooling. Not implementing this understanding will cause a loss of balance in one’s health.

I thought raw salad and raw juice smoothies were good for me all the time and anytime! 

During the ‘80s and ‘90s, well-intentioned health food proponents touted the benefits of raw foods and the importance of enzymes from raw food for digestion. According to Eastern Nutrition in TCM, there are three fallacies in this logic: 

  1. Every individual has been born into the world with unique constitutions. Therefore, no one dietary guideline is going to be perfectly applicable for all other individual constitutions. Some bodies may be more yang and other bodies more yin in nature.

  2. Raw foods tend to be “cold” and an overconsumption of them will damage the Spleen energetic organ system. In Chinese medicine, the Spleen is paired with the Stomach and is central in the proper digestion and absorption of food and prefers warm energetics.

  3. The signal that the digestive system is purging more efficiently due to enzymes is typically noted through more abundant loose bowel movements; this is actually a symptom of Spleen damage in TCM.

My friend just ate nothing but a raw diet and lost so much weight. I am doing the same exact thing, but why is it that I am not?? 

The other individual’s constitution may have been more heat and required more cool. Your constitution may be the opposite, having a weakness or pre-existing internal cold to the digestive system.

I thought drinking cold water with lots of ice will help me lose weight!

According to Chinese medicine, this will damage the Spleen AND compromise the Kidney energetic system.

A completely raw diet IS NOT the best for health. This is most especially true if it is all cold energetics alone. So, if you are going to consume a raw salad or raw juice smoothie, make sure you also add BOTH warm and cold energetics to it. For example, eating or drinking these at room temperature and adding ginger with other yang warming tonic foods is the better approach.

Balance is the key in order to acquire health and maintain health. This also serves true for WHEN to eat, HOW MUCH to eat, WHAT to eat and the WHY of eating certain energetic foods.

(To find out more about your own individual constitution and what energetic foods to consume accordingly for health, schedule an appointment with a TCM practitioner.)

Dr. Catherine Sy Luib - D.C., L.Ac., M.A.O.M., B.Sc. (Kin), CCH, CNLP


Dr. Catherine Sy Luib, D.C., L.Ac. is Owner/Physician of,
in San Diego. She serves as an Author, Blogger, Speaker, Philanthropist, Chiropractor,
Acupuncturist, Nutritionist & Herbalist. Dr. Luib is also Community Leader in numerous capacities for various Filipino American Organizations. As a Wellness Advocate, she strives to maintain goals in promoting the Holistic Health message to further change and improves lives of local and global communities.