Food and Mental Health – The Chinese Medicine View

Finally, we’re beginning to see the direct link between food choices and mental health. This article on the BBC News website details some of the latest findings on the subject.

This is something that we consider when we see new patients during their first (and subsequent) visits – Chinese medicine looks not so much at the nutritional aspect of the food from a chemical, or substance-based perspective, but from an energetic perspective. What does this really mean?

Well, consider two people going on the same diet in order to lose weight…the first person loses weight, the second doesn’t (or even puts on weight). If the food choices are not in tune with our specific needs, they can lead to us being undernourished and in some cases become the cause of imbalance and disease. Now consider coffee – in the West we know that caffeine can overstimulate the nervous system and for some people cause insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, migraines and so on. However, this can still be the case for some people even if they drink de-caffeinated coffee, because (from a Chinese medicine perspective), the coffee’s basic ‘thermal’ or ‘energetic nature’ is still stimulating, heating and moving even without the caffeine.

So when we look at what you eat, we consider the energetic properties that the foods bring into your system – we compare this to your needs based on our Chinese medicine diagnosis and then make suggestions to correct any problems we find, using foods that you can include in your diet to restore balance. Don’t worry, we won’t give you a list of foods you can’t stand(!) -rather, we look at what you feel comfortable including in your diet, so you actually want to work with food in a positive way.

The healing potential from these basic changes to one’s diet are often overlooked because we sometimes consciously (or unconsciously) do not consider them to be sophisticated enough to be a solution to some of our problems. However, the ancient Chinese observed how foods had the power to restore balance and support the healing process.

In fact, in a 2500 year-old classical text, it says:

“The inferior physician reaches for the medicinals, the superior physician treats through diet and lifestyle”.

What this is not saying of course, is that medicine is not a worthy tool – it is simply emphasising that the most beneficial method of preserving health, is through balanced living (and eating!) -because this is something you do every day of your life.

The BBC article hints at the link between foods and mental health (and of course, there is the reciprocal relationship between mental health and food choices…it works both ways). You can read it here:

Research for other conditions

People find acupuncture can bring relief for all sorts of health problems and find it can help to maintain overall well-being during times of heightened stress.

Please take a look at the Research Fact Sheets page, produced by the British Acupuncture Council. These fact sheets show good quality research trials, highlighting how acupuncture may be affecting the body’s nervous system, endocrine system and circulation to restore health.

If you are interested in what patients have to say about their experience of acupuncture, please read the comments on the Patient Experiences page.

Contact Lee

If you have any questions about a condition you have and whether acupuncture may help, please contact Lee on 01837 214888 (for acupuncture in North Tawton) or 01392 927299 (for acupuncture in Exeter).