In Traditional Chinese Medicine and other Eastern medicinal practices, diet is used in the prevention as well as treatment of disease.
The philosophies used are very different than the approaches used by Westerner practitioners who by and large view the symptoms as the problems and suppression of them, the cure.
The Eastern approach sees the symptoms as a result of another underlying problem. A bit like a Tsunami being a symptom but the earthquake the underlying cause.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, medicinal herbs are regarded as part of the diet when symptoms become apparent.
Food is not simply a source of calories and chemical compounds like protein, fat, and minerals for dogs and cats. Foods are looked at in how they influence the pets body as a whole: blood, fluid, individual organs and a body’s Qi (energy/life force).
One of the basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine is balance.
Each food has yin or yang properties to consider, and each food has a yin (cool, damp) and a yang ( hot, dry) constitution.
A diet should be designed to minimize imbalance in your dog or cat, not create further imbalance.
Balance is determined by Yin and Yang although both contain elements of each other. The white area is Yin with a Yang pair (black circle within the white area) The black area is Yang with a Yin pair (white circle within the black area).
It is not necessary to fully understand the principles of Yin and Yang to understand their influence in terms of diet.
Basically foods have a variety of effects on the body dependant on their Yin or Yang nature. Foods which heat the body are Yang, foods which cool are Yin. Thus we need to watch for balance in terms of not only Hot and Cold (Yang and Yin) but Dry and Damp (Yang and Yin).
In normal health the relationship between Yin and Yang is harmonious and dependent on each other.
Foods are broken down into many categories. Those being:
Direction – does the food influence Qi (energy), blood, or fluid upward, downward, inward, or outward. Skin problems for example are usually considered to be outward problems associated with excess body conditions. In simple terms, the body is pushing out the excesses through the skin.
Flavours – sweet (help digestion), sour (astringent/ drying) , pungent (spicy/ stimulate circulation, ie Garlic), salty (soften) and bitter- (aid digestion).
Meridians – how the food affects specific organs: spleen/ pancreas/ stomach (warming foods), lung/ large intestine (moistening foods), kidney/ urinary bladder (sweet), liver/ gall bladder (cooling foods).
Temperature which has to do with the way you feel after you have eaten – cooling as with salads, warming as with oats, hot as with spices and neutral where there is no appreciative change.
And in addition, Traditional Chinese medicine attempts to achieve balance with the seasons
– spring/summer (cleansing – why many skin problems only occur in these seasons)
– and fall/ winter (warming/ nourishing).
Examples of cooling (Yin) foods:
- Cooling Meats/Fish: Duck, Pork, Salmon
- Cooling Grains: Millet, Barley, Wheat
Cooling Vegetables: Celery, Broccoli, Spinach, Cucumbers
Examples of warming (Yang) foods:
- Warming Meats: Lamb, Red Meat, Shrimp
Warming Grains: Oats, Quinoa, Safflower
Warming Vegetables: Squash, Peppers, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans
Thus a proper holistic dog food or holistic cat food will pull together many of the facets above in order to produce a product which avoids excesses and seeks to balance the impact that the combined ingredients have on your pets body.