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Raw Food Energetics, Are All Raw Foods Damp Cold?


Turns out the Asian concept that all raw foods impart cold and dampness is not entirely true. Dr Cousens outlines the energetics of raw foods in his book Conscious Eating, a necessary addition to any one serious about Asian Healing Food Energetics. He illustrates how eating certain raw foods strnegthen Kidney Essence and warm the body in winter. Mind blowing stuff!

I have been raw for eight months now, been able to increase energy and lose weight for the first time in my life! And food is no longer an issue in my life.

As an acupuncturist this has revamped my entire process of understanding food energetics. I actually cured my chronic damp stagnation using 100% raw foods diet.

Basically to dry/warm up the spleen by eating raw foods includes eating the more nourishing and warming kidney and spleen strengthening foods. I have found the greens, microalgae, and seaweeds to all be excellent raw foods for this. As well the probiotic foods such as raw krauts and kombucha.


"Turns out the Asian concept that all raw foods impart cold and dampness is not entirely true"

You may have misunderstood the Asian concept. Raw foods are on the whole Colder than cooked foods - cooking adds Heat. But it also depends on the innate temperature of the food. For instance cherries are considered Warm, even when eaten raw (if you cooked them, they would become Warmer)

Raw food is generally more cleansing and so can benefit people with stagnant, excessive type imbalances.

The crucial factor is that it requires more digestive energy (Spleen Qi) to process, so it is not suitable in large amounts for people with weak digestion, or who are frail (deficient) and/or Cold. Lots of raw food on top of Spleen Qi/Yang Deficiency will almost certainly lead to Dampness.

In the long run eating lots of raw food will damage the Spleen, even if it is beneficial at first - I have seen this lots of times in my clinic where people have switched to raw food, found it useful at first, but then began to experience problems as time went on.

Hope that helps!


I am an acupuncturist who also eats a lot of raw foods. I was eating 100% raw foods for 2 straight years before I studied TCM. For the first year I felt and looked amazing, tonnes of energy, then I started getting digestive problems like constipation, bloating and eczema. I had little information about how to do the raw diet correctly and very little understanding of TCM food energetics and so forth.

Now having studied TCM, I&#39ve gone back to a high raw diet, about 90% raw. I agree, it&#39s not for every person or every condition but it does help some people. I have a hot-damp constitution and find that raw food helps. It&#39s winter here in Toronto Canada, -20 C and I&#39m not craving cooked food much at all. I do crave a lot of seaweeds though. If I&#39ve been working too hard and feel depleted, I drink a smoothie made with chlorella and find my energy increases. I agree on the kombucha too.

I know I can juice up some ginger/beet/carrot juice if I feel cold but so far I don&#39t. I eat a fair bit of dates which are warming and avoid bananas which are cold. Last year I was eating a lot of bananas in late winter and found that my teeth started chattering indoors!, perfect evidence that bananas cool the body.

Also, many raw recipes have a predominantly sweet taste which strengthens the spleen and stomach but in excess can create an imbalance. I don&#39t crave sweet flavours all that much as salty foods are more my thing. I&#39m learning to bring in all the different flavours by adding some chili peppers, garlic, sea salt, onions, etc. to round out the flavours and create more of a balance with the elements and organ systems as described in Henry Lu&#39s Chinese System of Food Cures.

While many TCM books state that raw food is to be avoided because it can create Spleen Qi deficiency, it&#39s important to note that we are living in a modern era with many kitchen appliances at our disposal which were not even dreamed of at the time when the TCM classics were written. Nowadays raw foodists use food processors, juicers, blenders and dehydrators to pre-digest the food so it&#39s easy to digest and not much of a burden on the Spleen.

For others who are reading this, just as with the vegetarian or vegan diet, the raw vegan diet requires a lot of commintment to eating nourishing foods and living a healthier lifestyle. Some vegetarians are "junk food vegetarians", eating a lot of processed foods like cookies and chips which are vegetarian but not healthy. So just because you are vegetarian/vegan or raw vegan doesn&#39t mean you are always healthy, but if you follow some of the standard requirements for switching to a more plant-based or raw diet such as eating greens, less dairy, getting enough sleep, avoiding junk foods, keeping your energy balanced through yoga, meditation, tai chi, acupuncture etc. if you really commit to healthy habits, the pay-off is huge.

With less tonifying animal products in your system, the body can&#39t cope with all the energy-depleting habits one may have such as working late nights, burning the candle at both ends,

caffeine addiction, drug and alcohol use/abuse, or being in very aggressive workplaces or environments. For example, some people go vegan and find that their body won&#39t tolerate alcohol. They have to make a choice, stay vegan or eat animal products and drink alcohol.These lifestyle issues often don&#39t fit well with a vegan or raw vegan diet in my opinion as I have observed in myself and others that the diet fosters a more gentle, compassionate and sensitive energy system.


Another aspect of the concept of cold natured foods can be seen as that they lack Yang, or vital force. The lack of Yang, as in our bodies, allows Cold to take hold. Foods that have been highly processed, as is common in the modern world, have had their Yang damaged. This processing that may alter the nature of a food that would have originally been considered to be of a Warm nature to become cold eg Chicken that naturally has a warm nature which has been processed into chicken sandwich meat can thus have more of a cold nature.

This would imply that raw foods, which are unprocessed and therefore do not have their Yang damaged, may have a certain relative aspect of Warm nature, thus helping to restore some warmth to a digestive system that has been overburdened by highly processed, Yang deficient foods. As this food has more Yang, it may require less digestive fire to process.


HI Jason,

Thank you for your comment.

That&#39s a great insight and I had not thought of it that way before but it does sound very logical and I will use it in the future:)

It&#39s a good way to explain why raw foods can increase Yang in spite of some of the foods being Cold in thermal nature.

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