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Medicated Diet

Chinese Medicated Diet

The Chinese Medicated Diet is not just a simple combination of food and Chinese herbs, but a special highly processed diet made from Chinese drugs, food and condiments under the theoretical guidance of diet preparation based on differentiation of symptoms and signs of traditional Chinese medicine. It has not only the efficiency of medicine but also the delicacy of food, and can be used to prevent and cure diseases, build up one's health and prolong one's life.

Chinese medicated diet has a long history. The ancient legend Shennong Chang Bai Cao (Shennong Tastes a Hundred Grasses) shows that early in remote antiquity the Chinese nation began to explore the function of food and medicaments, hence the saying: "Traditional Chinese medicine and diet both originate from the practice and experience in daily life."

In the Zhou Dynasty (11th century-256BC), royal doctors were divided into four kinds, one of which was dietetic doctor, who was in charge of the emperor's health care and health preservation, and was responsible for preparing diets for him.

In the Huangdi Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic), a medical classic in traditional Chinese medicine, which appeared approximately in the Warring States Period (475-221BC), several medicated diet prescriptions were recorded. In Shennong Bencao Jing (Shennong Emperor's Classic of Materia Medica, which was published approximately in about the Qin and Han periods (221BC-8AD) and is the extant earliest monograph on materia medica, many sorts of medicaments which are both drugs and food were recorded, such as Chinese-date, sesame seed, Chinese yam, grape, walnut kernel, lily bulb, fresh ginger, Job's-tears seed, etc. In the book Shanghan Zabing Lun (Treatise on Febrile and Miscellaneous Diseases) written by Zhang Zhongjing, a noted medical man in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), some noted medicated diet recipes were recorded, such as soup of Chinese angelica root, fresh ginger and mutton, decoction of pig-skin, etc., all of which now still have important values.

Sun Simiao, a well-known doctor in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), listed and discussed such questions as dietetic treatment, dietetic treatment for senile health care and health preservation, etc. in his books Beiji Qianjin Yaofang (Essential Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold for Emergencies) and Qianjin Yifang (Additions to the Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold). The two works are substantial in medicated diet prescriptions.

According to history books, up to the period of the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581-907) more than sixty kinds of books on dietetic treatment had been published. But unfortunately most of them were lost. The book Shiliao Bencao (Dietotherapy of Materia Medica) by Meng Xian in the Tang Dynasty has a great influence on later generations. It is the extant and earliest monograph on dietetic treatment.

In the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Wang Huaiyin and some others wrote Peaceful Holy Benevolent Prescriptions, in which they discussed medicated diet treatment for many diseases. A Book on Helpping the Old Preserve Health and Your Kith and Kin Prolong Lives by Chen Zhi is an extant early monograph on gerontology in China. Of all the prescriptions recorded in it, 70% are about medicated diet. It is emphasized in this book that "dietetic therapy should go first for any senile diseases, and then followed by medicine if they are not cured. In the book Principles of Correct Diet, a monograph on medicated diet by Hu Sihui, a royal doctor in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), large quantities of medicated diet prescriptions and dietetic drugs were recorded; in addition, some questions, such as diet contraindication for pregnancy, for wet nurses, and for drinking, etc., were also discussed in the book. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Li Shizhen collected and recorded in his Compendium of Materia Medica many medicated diet prescriptions, dozens of which were about medicated gruel, another dozens on nothing other than medicated wine. In Eight Essays on Life Preservation, a monograph on health preserving in the Ming Dynasty, many medicated diets on health preserving and health care were recorded. Monographs on medicated diet treatment in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) varied in characteristics: in Recipe of Suixiju by Wang Shixiong, over 300 species belonging to 7 phyla of medicated food and drinks were introduced; in Analysis of Food and Drinks for Treatment of Diseases by Zhang Mu, more medicated foods were recommended; in Cookbook of Suiyuan cooking principles and methods were dealt with; while in Common Saying for Senile Health Preservation, also known as Jottings on Health Preservation, by Cao Tingdong, about 100 medicated gruel prescriptions for gerocomy were listed.

Medicated diet has been developing rapidly in assortment on the basis of traditional process, for example, medicated cans, medicated sweets and so on. Salutary food and drinks produced on the basis of achievements in scientific research and having the effect of curing diseases have a variety of sorts and vary in characteristics. There is medicated food suitable for patients suffering from diabetes, obesity and angiocardiopathy; there are health-care food and drinks suitable for athletes, actors and actresses, and miners, etc.; there is also health-care food or medicated diets suitable for enhancing children's health and growth, or for prolonging life of the aged.

Chinese medicated diet has begun to go abroad. Medicated cans, health-care drinks and medicated wine made from traditional Chinese medicine have been sold at the international market. Medicated diet dining- halls have been set up in some countries. Personnel of academic, industrial and commercial circles abroad have paid close attention to Chinese medicated diet, hoping to develop academic exchanges and technical and economic cooperation in this respect. Chinese medicated diet will make contributions to the health of the people all over the world.

Characteristics of Chinese Medicated Diet

1. Laying stress on the whole, selecting medicated diet on the basis of differential diagnosis

By the principle of "laying stress on the whole, selecting medicated diet on the basis of differential diagnosis", we mean that when prescribing medicated diet, we should first make an overall analysis of the patient's physical and health condition, the nature of his illness, the season he got ill and the geographical condition, etc., form a judgment on the type of syndrome, and then decide on corresponding principles for dietetic therapy and select suitable medicated diet. Take a patient with chronic gastritis for example, he should take Galangal and Cyperus gruel if the suffering is from chronic gastritis of stomach-cold type.

2. Suitable both for prevention and treatment, and outstanding in effect

Medicated diet can be used either to treat diseases or for healthy people to build up their health and prevent diseases. This is one of the characteristics in which medicated diet is different from treatment by medicine. Although medicated diet is something mild, it has a notable effect on the prevention and cure of diseases, health building-up and preserving. Here are some of the achievements in scientific research of Shandong Traditional Chinese Medicine College:

Eight-Ingredient Food: It is prepared according to the experience of ancient dietetic treatment and health care of imperial court in the Qing Dynasty from eight dietetic Chinese drugs including Chinese yam, lotus seeds, and hawthorn fruit. 97% of the children who took it for 30 days have whetted their appetite, and their growth has improved too.

Nourishing Extract of Laiyang Pear and mushroom: It is made from the juice of Laiyang Pear and extract of mushrooms and tremella. If the middle-aged and senile patients suffering from chronic diseases take it, not only can the symptoms of their illness be alleviated, but also their blood-fat can be brought down when they are suffering from hyperlipaemia, and their immunologic function can be improved.

3. Good in taste, convenient for taking

There goes the saying "Good medicine tastes bitter" among the people, because most of the decoction of Chinese drugs are bitter. Some people, especially children, take an aversion to the bitterness of Chinese drugs and refuse to take them. Most of the drugs used in medicated diet are both edible and medicinal, and retain the features of food: color, sweet-smelling, flavor, and so on. Even if containing Chinese herbs, their nature and flavor are taken into consideration and made into tasty medicated diet by mixing them with food and careful cooking. So it can be said that medicated diet is good in taste and convenient for taking. 

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