For optimum health, the energy (Qi) of the body needs to flow smoothly and consistently throughout the body. In TCM, stagnation of Qi has the biggest impact on the liver. Stress, irregular eating habits, synthetic substances like preservatives, pharmaceuticals, and colouring agents all interfere with the liver’s function of maintaining the smooth flow of Qi. It is best to consume foods that are slightly cooked. By lightly cooking food, you preserve the nutrients, and also ensure that they are readily digested and absorbed. Some general recommendations for preventing Qi stagnation include regular eating times, eating moderate amounts, and chewing thoroughly to savor flavors and stimulate the digestive process. Enjoy meals by sitting down to relax, rather than while stressed, distracted, working, or watching the news, for example.
For liver Qi stagnation, the ratio of food groups should be as follows:
30% complex carbohydrates
40-60% lightly cooked vegetables
Foods that Ease Liver Qi Stagnation
*include plenty of fragrant and lightly spiced dishes
onions, garlic, mustard greens, watercress, asparagus, taro root, cabbage, turnip, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, beets, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, celery, waterchestnuts
turmeric, basil, mint, horseradish, pepper, cardamom, cumin, fennel, dill, ginger
small amounts of pickled vegetables, miso, soy sauce, rose and jasmine flowers
sprouted grains, sourdough bread, olive oil
molasses, small quantities of wine, coffee (no more than 1/day)
kumquats, tangerines, grapefruit
Foods to Restrict or Avoid
Cheese, eggs, cream, ice cream, red meat, nuts, pizza, lard, shortening, margarine, deep fried food, chilies, excessively hot, spicy meals, beer and excessive intoxicants, raw vegetable juices, refined sugar, artificial preservatives, artificial coloring
Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine, Vol. 2. MacLean & Lyttleton. University of Western Sydney: Australia. 2002.
Chinese Dietary Therapy. Liu, J. Churchill Livingston: Edinburgh.1995.
The Healing Cuisine of China. Zhao & Ellis. Healing Arts Press: Vermont. 1998
This factsheet is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is meant to complement rather than substitute for a consultation with a qualified TCM practitioner.