The Importance of Meat in Traditional Chinese Medicine

A valued customer of Cross Lanes, Sharon Cawthorne has written a post about the importance of meat in your diet.

Sharon is the owner of Shen Holistics, an Acupuncture, Hypnotherapy and Wellbeing Clinic providing a range of holistic treatments.  Sharon is a trained Chinese Medicine Practitioner.

Sharon Cawthorne’s Post

A very wise Russian doctor once told me to buy the best food I can possibly afford, that advice stayed with me. I’m Sharon Cawthorne, Acupuncturist and owner of Shen Holistics based in Teesside. As a result of this excellent advice, I’ve become particularly choosy where I buy my food from, and in particular the meat I eat.

We’ve all heard the saying ‘You Are What You Eat’ and it is true, even a recent conversation with a consultant dermatologist we ended up chatting about food and nutrition. I stated that so many health issues can be resolved, if we all eat good quality food and in the right proportions. She was in total agreement. So the buck stops with each and every one of us, to eat right because our food plays a huge part in keeping us healthy.

Aware of the Food You Eat

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), your diet and being aware of the food you eat, is probably one of the most important things you can do for your health. Choosing good quality produce especially meat, should be high on your priority list when shopping. People don’t realise that the humans stomach enzymes, have evolved to digest meat, and animal proteins are complete proteins, which means they provide essential amino acids that our body needs.

From a diet perspective, it’s understood in Chinese medicine that the best foods for building/tonifying/enriching the blood are animal derived, since animals are blooded creatures. Also within Chinese medicine, meat has it’s own qualities, and Chinese medicine considers meat of animals that exhibit high energy to be a good source. Of course we know that red meat is good if you are iron deficient, or you have anemia. But, each meat type brings individual benefits.

Beef Meat counter

Examples of Different Meat

BEEF and CHICKEN are warm in nature within TCM. Both help increase your energy (Qi), nourish blood and relieve mucus. So if you are unwell, having beef broth, or chicken soup is a great idea. Even bone broth is making a come back because of the nutritional value it provides. Great for eating all year around in the UK, where our climate is temperate.

LAMB is quite hot in nature, but is great for strengthening your Qi. Nourishing Blood and promoting appetite. Best for consuming in winter or cold days throughout the year.

PORK is neutral to slightly cold in nature, again it helps your Qi, but its a good meat to eat when its warm weather.

DUCK is cooling in nature, again its a good meat to eat during warm weather.

*All wild meats are also hot in nature, e.g. pheasant, grouse, rabbit, deer, elk, reindeer, wild boar, etc. So you should avoid eating these in high summer, if you don’t want to end up a sweating mess, but they are perfect for winter.

When to Eat Certain Types of Meat

Keeping in mind these qualities of meat, it is why I advise my patients to eat certain types of meat during specific times of the year, in accordance with the patients pathology. To explain what I mean by this, I wouldn’t advise a menopausal lady, suffering with severe hot flushes and night sweats to eat lamb in the middle of a heat wave. However a lady trying to conceive, that’s emanating deep cold would need to eat plenty of red meat to provide the heat she requires to boost her Qi and nourish Blood. I use the analogy ‘you can’t put a bun in the oven, if you don’t switch on the heat’. Using the same principle, I advocate ladies that are menstruating, to eat meat because they are literally loosing blood regularly, and eating good quality meat nourishes Blood.

I’ve lost count how many young women in their reproductive years, with a Western outlook, have told me their diets consisted mainly of salads and very little, if any meat. Indeed they are proud of “eating healthily.” For them, this means a high fibre, low fat, and low calories. From an Eastern perspective, this diet is not considered healthy for young women at all.

Chinese medicine teaches that because of menstrual blood loss, women in their reproductive years tend to be Blood Deficient amongst other pathologies, and eating lots of cold foods put’s them into what we call a Cold state. Their intake of food or herbs should be warming and tonifying to Blood. Meats, which are considered warm, are more suitable for them than salads, which are categorised as cool.

Chinese medicine also focuses on a mentality that “like treats like.” For example people with oesteoarthritic conditions, often find their affected joints are worse with cold weather. Applying heat to the area tends to ease the discomfort. So using this principle, they may benefit from consuming warm foods, such as small amounts of good quality meat.

Sourcing Your Meat

It’s not only about the type of meat you eat, but the quality and only selecting lean cuts. As I said previously, I’ve become very choosy where I purchase my meat, I will only buy and eat the best I can afford, and I advocate Cross Lanes Organic Farm just outside Barnard Castle. They know exactly which farm the meat has originated from, and what the animal has been fed during it’s lifespan. I find that very reassuring. I stumbled across Cross Lanes a few years ago quite by accident, and now I won’t buy my red meat from anywhere else. Even if that means cutting back in other areas of my life, its worth it. In addition to the quality of meat, you also need to address your portion sizes, it’s much better to have excellent quality, over a large quantity.

So, from today keep in mind the ability to build Qi and Blood, is directly related to your nutritional health and what you eat.

For Further Information

If you want to read more about Chinese Nutritional Therapy – Daverick Leggett has a great article called Energetics of Food – a beginner’s guide which you can read here.

Or Giovanni Maciocia’s article on why too much Heat in the body isn’t good for you, which you can read from this link, Diagnosis, Patterns and Treatment of Heat in Acupuncture.

For more information contact Sharon Cawthorne at Shen Holistics: Acupuncture, Hypnotherapy, and Wellbeing.



Tel: 07956 042 888

Cross Lanes Organic Farm

Visit the farm shop butchers at Cross Lanes Organic Farm or you can shop online and have the meat delivered direct to your door.