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An Evaluation of Yin (raw) foods and the Spleen

Posted Jun 28 2010 5:46pm


As a high percentage raw foodist and Chinese Tonic herbalist, I have studied the view held by Chinese health practitioners on high-raw diets and its affects on the functions of the ‘spleen’, by which they refer to the system that governs digestion and nutrient assimilation, and includes the stomach, pancreas, duodenum and small intestine.

Many readers familiar with Chinese health ideology know that high-percentage diets of raw food are generally discouraged. Indeed, they rightly believe raw food is dampening, cooling, and Yin, and can adversely affect persons with a ‘Yin’ constitution; women in particular, who could be prone to accumulating watery bloating around the abdomen and hips. Raw food consumption, especially during colder wetter months can definitely have this edema-producing effect. Men don’t generally experience this water retention, as they are usually more of the Yang constitution type, but there are always exceptions to any rule.

The Chinese have, over centuries, located herbs and developed formulations for countering ‘damp spleen’. These formulations are usually referred to as Chi supporting formulas; Chi being referred to as the basic force that governs our metabolism, the flame of the candle so to speak.

I believe the missing equation in Chinese ideology is that well grown, organic raw food cuisine, prepared with diverse and nutritionally rounded ingredients, is already very high in the basic life force of Chi. The aid of herbal teas designed to further support Chi may be successfully added into the raw diet, as an adjunct to help the body process potentially cooling aspects of the raw foods. I believe Tonic Chi supporting teas taken along with the raw diet can present a valuable missing link in nutrient absorption, and help prevent unwanted accumulation and retention of fluids in the body. The many benefits include helping women maintain better physique and bodily warmth, also helping support adequate blood levels and a regular moon cycle. * These herbs do not induce adrenal response for energy.

Tonic Chi Tea

  • White Atractylodes: 30 grams
  • Poria: 30 grams
  • Codonopsis: 30 grams
  • Jujube date: 30 grams
  • Rehmannia (Prepared): 30 grams
  • White Peony root*: 30 grams

Simmer whole herbs in 1 gallon water for 1 hour, allow to cool 2 hours. Strain and refrigerate. Add sweetener to taste. Warm and drink 2-3 cups daily.

Always purchase the highest priced herbs at your Chinese herb shop. This will help insure they are sourced from traditional old-school regions of herb cultivation. Ask the herbal pharmacist at the shop for the highest quality examples of each herb. 

* White Peony should be avoided by pregnant women.

Rehmannia Dean Thomas is a Taoist Tonic herbalist, 8 year apprentice to Master Ron Teeguarden, and direct descendant in a 5000 year old herbal system. He has written the book ‘Healing Thresholds’ which covers Tonic herbal philosophy and use, and also includes discussions on living foods. His website is
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