Wednesday, 31 January 2018

08 Herbal Dietary Power: Medicine and Food From a Same Source

We should choose seasonal food.


“Diet decides Destiny” ── the power of medicine and food coming from a single source

Let me talk about my cancer experience. After being discharged from the hospital, I underwent RALS radiotherapy (Remote AfterLoading System) for a month. For this treatment, an endoscope approximately 40cm long was inserted into my esophagus, down my throat. It caused unimaginable pain. Since I could not stand the sequelae of this radiotherapy, I decided to choose a “botanical herb and herbal dietary therapy” at home, based on the principle of medicine and food coming from a single source.


Again, these three kinds of “botanical herb and herbal dietary therapy” are:

(1) TXL, an anticancer compound Chinese medicine (Dr. ZhenGuo Wang)


(2) The “holistic medicinal therapy”, based on boiling Chinese herbs (Dr. Obitsu Ryoichi)

(3) A longevity dietary regimen, mainly consisting of brown rice meals (Shi Jian instructor, Yamamura Shinichiro)

Next, I will introduce the dietary regimen approach of “herbal dietary therapy” that is based on the principle of medicine and food coming from a single source.


First, the idiom, 医食同源 -- newly created vocabulary from Japan. It comes from an ancient principle of TCM. The four characters “医食同源” mean “medicine is food, and both are the source of life”. In other words, medicine and daily food are equally important. Eating food and taking medicine make the same contribution to physical and mental health. In nature, the roots of plants, tree barks, fruits and nuts contain such naturopathic resources and are medicines. This is the basic concept of TCM.

The ancient Chinese believed that the best medicine is disease prevention; it is better than a cure (preventative medicine). In China's ancient books, records show that those called eminent doctors not only treated disease, they also taught people how to prevent diseases. TCM had four types of doctors: “dietary doctors”, “physicians”, “surgeons” and “veterinarians”. The dietary doctors were at the highest level. NHK television broadcasting channel aired a popular Korean drama “Dae Jang Geum”, wherein the main actress played the role of a typical “dietary doctor”. 


In the Edo period in Japan, a master of physiognomy, Mizuno Namboku put forward a theory that “food changes your destiny”. In his “Physiognomy Is An Easy Fitness Memoir”, he said, “a prudent diet opens the way of qi; when the way of qi is open, then your fortune is opened up” and “food governs good and bad destiny”. 

Use Chinese herbal medicines (as ingredients) based on “medicine and food coming from a single source” to cook healthy cuisine. It is a “medicinal diet” and it is many people’s favorite. I will try to explain this simple concept.

TCM classified foods according to five kinds of flavours: sour, bitter, sweet, spicy (hot) and salty.

The primary factor in health is to intake a balance of the five flavours of food. The five flavours are closely interrelated with “five organs”: 【Sour—liver】, 【bitter--heart and small intestine】, 【sweet—spleen and stomach】, 【spicy—lungs and colon】, and 【salty—kidneys and bladder】. These are the five Yin organs and six Yang organs, based on TCM concepts, and they work together like an engine for the body when they operate harmoniously. It is similar in principle to the Chinese herbal medicines I have mentioned before. Thus, as long as the ingredients of a medicinal diet contain properties that encourage the flow of “qi, blood and fluids” or contain the medicinal efficacy to improve the function of weak organs, then the medicinal diet can maintain a good internal environment. It can prevent diseases and invigorate one's personal constitution spontaneously. This is the reason why “herbal dietary therapy”, as a medicinal diet, is so popular in Japan.


The Five-Flavour Ingredients Based on TCM Theory

Efficacy: Purifies the blood and tightens muscles.
Foods: Plums, tomatoes, apples and vinegar.

It is effective for profuse sweating, diarrhea, and frequent urination. Eating too much of this is bad for the stomach.

Efficacy: Expels excess heat or discharges excess water.
Foods: Burdock, coltsfoot, bitter melons and garlic buds.

It is good for coughing and effective on dizziness.

Efficacy: Tonification and strengthening of the body.
Foods: Corns, carrots, tofu, honey and fruit.

It has analgesic and disinfection effects and is good for fatigue and stomach pain.

♦Spicy (hot)
Efficacy: Warms the body, enhances blood circulation and sweating functions.
Foods: Peppers, ginger, leeks and white radishes.

It is effective for appetite loss and cold.

Efficacy: It can ease muscle stiffness.
Foods: Soy sauce, kelp, seaweed and shellfish.

It is effective for constipation, and shoulder and neck pain (swollen lymph nodes).


Foods are divided according to five natures: cold, cool, flat, warm and hot. We should consider these five natures for our personal needs, according to our individual constitution, health situation and the season, in order to take advantage of their best properties. Pay attention to the influence that food has on your personal constitution and to the compatibility of foods. This is what we call a “balanced Yin-and-Yang” diet. 


A medicinal diet is different from the diet of Western nutrition science, that is based on calorie calculation. Medicinal diets consider balance and promote the constitution based on TCM nutrition. Once you can comprehend a medicinal diet, you will understand the in-depth knowledge of food that comes from both Western medicine and TCM. With the concept of “medicine and food coming from a single source” = “medicines are greater than foods”, you can obtain health and longevity. 

Not only cancer patients, but in particular women are re-learning the knowledge of botanical herbs and foods, which are the source of life. I felt very sad because the hospitals filled with important medical knowledge were unresponsive. We should gradually change our eating habits to eat natural food and refuse to eat fake food. We should change from eating a satiated diet to a simple diet. The super star singer, Madonna, brings a special chef with her when she travels to take care of her macrobiotic diet regimen. Although we cannot emulate Madonna, we (even as couples) can work together to improve the standards of our home-cooked medicinal diet. It is the secret to health and longevity; also a way to enjoy a supreme life luxury.


“Medicinal Diet” and “Longevity Dietary Regimen Approach” are Yin-and-Yang Cuisine, But what are Their Differences?

(Medicinal Diet)


(Longevity Dietary Regimen Approach)


You can think of it this way: a “medicinal diet” is “Chinese Yin-and-Yang cuisine”, while the rules of a longevity dietary regimen are “...created by the Japanese. It is the Yin-and-Yang cuisine of a macrobiotic diet”. Medicinal diets focus on the close relationship between seasonal food and one's constitution. We should choose seasonal food; enjoy the ingredients that contain the vital power of a medicinal diet to maintain good physical condition, and avoiding sickness is your major goal.


Sekine Susumu

Chairman of SlowHealth Research Association

Chief Editor of Life Guide Book

Professor Emeritus of Changchun University of Chinese Medicine, China


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