If there is heat, cool it; if there is cold, warm it; f there is dryness, moisten it; if there is dampness, dry it; if there is vacuity, supplement it; and if there is excess, drain it.

Neijing, The Yellow Emperor's Classics of Internal Medicine

Shi Liao, also called food therapy or food cure, is one of the therapeutic modalities in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It identifies the various medicinal properties of natural foods and applies individual food as a preventative measure to counteract or prevent diseases. The natural foods include varieties of meats, vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, dairy products, even liquor and wine. According to TCM treatment principles, a practitioner designs a recipe in which there are prescription herbs and specific items of food along with a recommended serving. Its aiming is to adjust the patient's yin/yang conditions in order to achieve a therapeutic effect. Neijing, the Yellow Emperor's Classics of Internal Medicine says: "If there is heat, cool it; if there is cold, warm it; if there is dryness, moisten it; if there is dampness, dry it; if there is vacuity, supplement it; and if there is excess, drain it." In here, cold, dampness and vacuity are yin; heat, dryness and excess are yang. With yin yang balance, the healing begins. In addition to the nutrition''s face value, Chinese dietetics studies the food natures, such as their medicinal properties, flavours and the interactions between the food and human race. This discipline is playing a role as a supplementary healing technique in conjunction with acupuncture, Tui Na (acupressure), moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine, cupping and qigong. It is often facilitated by TCM practitioner throughout the whole treatment process as a means of prevention (to protect from getting sick); counteraction (to overcome the illness); restoration (to speed up recuperation); enhancement (to promote immune system) and rejuvenation (to maintain health). 


Shi Liao can be traced back for thousands of years in China. In The Shennong Canon of Herbs (shen nong ben cao jing), Shen Nong, a pioneer herbalist, testified the medicinal benefits of several hundred herbs he had tasted and used on himself and others. It is the earliest documented testimony in Chinese herbology history. While the ancient herbalists were in ecstasy inventing the medicine then, however they started experiencing the drawbacks of unpleasant taste from the herbal decoctions and the upset stomach reaction. The unwelcome effects had deterred patient using herbal treatment and resulted in failing to save lives. Herbalists had tried modifying the formulae and preserving the herbs in order to persuade the public of using the herbal medicine. Through several generations of the tireless endeavors and substantial fearless trials, they eventually discovered that herbs were able to treat illness and so was food. Both herbs and food have their unique medicinal properties and under certain circumstances they are interactively work with others. With a designated structure and specific cooking procedures, the recipe would become a form of a pleasant and enjoyable food. Thus Shi Liao was invented. Since Shi Liao become accepted and widely used, it has been practically proven that these special designed recipes are able to enhance the treatment result, remarkably reduce the unpleasant taste or dispel the natural toxin. After thousands years of development, Humongous selection of recipes have been created. They have been modified into delicious cuisine fit in different seasons and suitable for all ages. They can be a beverage, a soup, a dish, pasta, rice, vegetables, pastry, or a dessert, and all obtain therapeutic values. TCM practitioners often associate Shi Liao with treatment plans, rehabilitation programs and daily diet recommendations. Presently Shi Liao is taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine Schools. 

The following is a food guide for your reference. Please consult your TCM doctor before you proceed.

TCM Food Therapy Chart