Soups, herbs and healing foods: 3 easy ways to support immune health with Traditional Chinese Medicine


When your immune system isn’t functioning at its best, you’re more susceptible to infectious diseases like the common cold. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), eating certain foods and spices can help boost your immune health.

TCM refers to a 5,000-year-old system that uses natural treatments such as acupuncture and cupping to promote mental and physical health. Try these three proven tips from TCM to naturally support your immune system and prevent illnesses.

Consume warm foods and beverages

Your digestive organs need warmth to function properly. Peristalsis or the physical movement of food being pushed through the digestive tract to be absorbed, needs muscle and energy. Your insides are warm, and your muscles function best when they’re also warm. This is why you need to warm up before exercising.

Drinking cold foods and beverages may put out the “fire” of your metabolic system. Replacing some cold, raw vegetables in your diet with warm soups and roasted vegetables can help relieve this stress on your digestive system and free up energy for your immune system.

Incorporate warming and invigorating Chinese herbs into your diet

Bring warmth into your body by using more spices like cayenne and cloves when cooking. Detailed below are more energizing herbs often used in TCM to promote immune health:

– Astragalus root (Huang Qi) is used in TCM to boost energy, relieve stress and prevent colds and the flu. This spice has a mild taste, making it a great addition to most meals.

– Ginger (Shen Jiang) in TCM, fresh ginger is used in various herbal formulas to address chronic illness, digestive problems or weakened immune function. Studies suggest that ginger helps ease symptoms like nausea and minimizes inflammation. Make yourself a cup of soothing ginger tea or add it to stir fry for a natural immune system boost.

– Honey – a natural sweetener, has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. Use organic, raw honey to relieve a dry, hacking cough. Purchase high-quality honey like Manuka honey. When buying honey, look for darker varieties that have a higher polyphenol count.

– Turmeric – contains curcumin, which has potent anti-inflammatory effects. This active ingredient helps modulate the activation of T-cells, B-cells, macrophages and neutrophils, the body’s natural immune cells. Try cooking with fresh or dried turmeric by adding it to curry, frittatas, roasted vegetables or scrambled eggs.

Treat food as healing medicine

In Chinese food therapy, flavors are divided into five categories that each corresponds to different organs and promotes balance in the body.
– Bitter food enters the heart and the small intestine. It helps cool heat and dry any dampness, such as phlegmy coughs or edema.
– Salty food enters the kidneys. It helps moisten and cool the body.
– Sour food addresses liver function and eases vomiting.
– Spicy food enters the lungs and the large intestine. It helps stimulate appetite and improves circulation.
– Sweet food enters the stomach and spleen. It is said to help nourish the body.

Based on these categories, balancing your meals by flavor helps promote overall wellness. Try cooking with invigorating and warming ingredients such as bitter scallions, salty almonds, sour fermented veggies, spicy garlic or sweet pears.

Using these tips from TCM, you can naturally support your immune health by enjoying warming savory soups, eating more cooked veggies and balancing the flavors of your meals.


September 12, 2020


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