Chinese Food Therapy

What is the Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine approach to nutrition?

Nutrition is one of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine – the other branches are acupuncture, herbs, and Tui-na. Nutrition in Chinese medicine, as in Western medicine, is the foundation of good health. Specific choices can harness the healing power of whole foods and create balance in a patient with a medical condition.

Foods are described as having energetic properties like warmth or cold. For instance, warm foods include ginger, oats, pumpkin, and chicken. Lamb and venison are very Hot foods, and Cool foods include pears, watermelon, millet, turkey, and rabbit.

Foods also have affiliations to “organ” systems and essential Substances – such as Qi, Blood, Yin, Yang, Jing, and Essence. For instance, a canine patient diagnosed with Blood Deficiency might be sent home with a recommendation to supplement the diet with liver, beef, or carrots to build Blood. A Kidney Jing Deficient cat might benefit from bone broth.

How is food therapy applied to kibble diets?

Good nutrition for our pets is not so different from good nutrition for ourselves. There is no need to be committed to a black or white philosophy. Humans eat some processed and some raw food, but if the main meal of the day is made of cooked whole foods, we feel better and build a foundation for good health as we age. A pet might eat a commercial canned and kibble diet in the morning but be offered a home-cooked meal for dinner. There is a benefit to be gained by including some cooked whole foods in the daily diet.

When dealing with a medical condition, the foods chosen will support the required thermal, organ system or essential substance that requires attention. For instance: patients that run warm and tend to overheat in summer but thrive in winter or that tend to have inflamed skin would be fed Cooler diet or supplemented with cooling foods. For patients that run cool, who live next to the space heater in winter or have a cold and weak back and rear limbs, we feed Warming diets.  

Kibble diets can also be classified as warmer, cooler or supporting certain vital body systems based on the ingredients that compromise the diet. This principle can be used therapeutically when choosing a basic diet and when supplementing with whole food. 

How is food therapy applied to feeding whole food diets?

Whole food diets include cooked food diets and raw diets. Cooked whole food diets are preferred in Traditional Chinese Veterinary medicine. A kibble diet is highly processed and very dry. Eating processed food daily over the course of a pet’s life creates Heat or inflammation in the body by depleting natural sources of cooling. On the other end of the spectrum, a raw diet is unprocessed and frequently fed straight from the refrigerator and is thus overly cooling and moistening. Eating raw food daily over the course of a pet’s life creates Damp. 

What is the Chinese whole food perspective on raw food feeding for dogs and cats?

Energetically, raw diets are Cold and particularly so since we feed them refrigerated. Eating raw food daily over the course of a pet’s life creates Damp. Damp can be felt and smelled on a pet’s coat – ‘dog smell’ and can combine in the body with the pathogen of Heat to create Damp-Heat, such as a moist pyoderma or a ‘hot spots.’ Cooked whole food diets are generally preferred as they are more digestible and temperature neutral. 

In Chinese medicine, raw diets are considered ‘strong medicine’ – intended to be used for very Hot or inflamed pets for short periods of time. If used for too long, we can overcorrect the initial imbalance and create a new problem, usually related to an elaboration of Dampness. 

How does Full Circle Veterinary Alternatives Integrate Chinese Food Therapy and Conventional Nutrition?

At Full Circle, we understand that each client is on their own journey in holistic medicine. We are here to advise and to improve your pet’s diet regardless of whether it is kibble or raw or cooked. We can guide you toward a commercial kibble or canned diet with Warmer or Cooler ingredients, we can help to create a home-prepared balanced raw or cooked diet, and we can recommend topping off your pet’s diet with foods that are Tonics for the Substances your pet needs today.

If you have any questions, please give us a call at 902.461.0951