Power of Energetics: 5 Properties



Yin and yang, is a constant factor in Chinese Medicine and energetics.  This week we are talking about the 5 properties of food—Heat/Hot, Warm, Neutral, Cool, and Cold —how they correspond to yin and yang, and how they affect the body.



When talking about the properties of food, if a food is heat/hot it is considered warming and if it is cold it is considered cooling.  When differentiating the properties foods that are extremely warming are considered heat/hot and food that are slighting warming are considered warm.  The same goes for cooling foods.  Warming and cooling foods correspond to yin and yang—where heat is yang and cold is yin.  When eating cooling foods, energy and fluids are directed inward and lower so the exterior and upper portions of the body cool first.  When eating warming foods, energy and fluids (especially blood) move up and out to the surface of the body.

images-4The properties of food also are a great example of yin with the yang (which I spoke about in my last blog), foods can have opposing properties.  For example, Siberian Ginseng can both lower high blood pressure and raise low blood pressure.  This can happen because food can be altered in the cooking process, ultimately transforming the yin into the yang.  The warming and cooling properties of food depend on multiple factors:

  1. Slow growing plants such as carrot and cabbage are more warming than those that grow quickly.
  2. Fertilization, which stimulates plants to grow quicker, creates a more cooling food/energetic.
  3. Raw food is more cooling than cooked food.
  4. Foods eaten cold are more cooling.
  5. Foods that are colored blue, green or purple are more cooling than the colors red, orange, and yellow. Example: a green apple is more cooling than a red apple.
  6. Cooking methods requiring more cooking time, higher temperature, or higher pressure are generally more warming.  Deep frying is more warming than steaming food and heatless methods of preservation or preparation, like fermenting, marinating or sprouting are cooling.

If possible do not microwave or overcook your food.  Microwaving food can damage the molecular integrity and diminish the Qi. If you must microwave your food, the best method is to put your microwave at a lower power and cook it in small increments of time until warm.  In general cooking your food moderately (whether in a microwave or on the stove) is the best for your body, as overcooking or eating too much raw foods can be overstimulating.


Unknown-2Excess heat can be caused by eating too many warming foods or an insufficient amount of cooling foods, to much activity or work, exposure to heat and extreme climates (even a cold climate), or the obstruction of the internal organs.  The entire body or just a part can be affected by an excess of heat.



Signs of Heat:

  • As heat rises the body fluids dry up. (ex. dehydration)
  • The body feels hot, avoidance or fear of heat, and attracted to cold
  • Head: Bright red tongue with a yellow coating, red face, red eyes, nosebleeds, canker sores, “rotten” breath smell
  • Heart/Mind/Body: High blood pressure, hemorrhages, inappropriate or incoherent speech, convulsions, delirium, full and fast radial pulse
  • Local inflammations, swellings, rashes, skin eruptions, and sores
  • Digestion: Constipation, dry and smelly stools, dark yellow or red urine, blood found in stool or urine, strong desire for cold liquids in large quantities, matter excreted is forceful and urgent, mucus and phlegm are thick and yellow or green

To combat an excess of heat one should eat less and increase fluid intake.  One should avoid red meat, chicken, alcohol and cigarettes as they increase heat.  Other food to avoid is yogurt, cows milk, eggs, clams, and can as can cause obstructions and aggravate heat.  Small amounts of almonds, sesame seeds, and fresh sunflower seeds can supply nutrients needed without increasing heat. One should also avoid pressure cooking, baking, or deep frying food.  Steam, simmer or eat foods raw.

For acute heat symptoms use the liquid forms of cooling vegetables or fruit juices, broths, and herbal teas.  These liquids should not be served cold, cold foods and drinks actually weaken the body.

Another form of heat is called deficiency-heat or deficiency-yin. This is the most common form of heat nowadays.  Deficiency-heat is produced not by an excess of heat, but by a deficiency in yin, specifically in the yin fluids and structures that provide balance for heat in the body.  Basically, the yin aspects of the body are so low that heat appears to be in excess. This is also a symptom of people who have yin of inferior quality, usually caused by overeating rich and denatured foods.

Signs of Deficiency-heat:

  • Hypoglycemia, diabetes, tuberculosis, and anxiety disorders
  • Wasting diseases where there is a long term inflammation and infections from viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, an other pathogenic microbes
  • degenerative disease eventually become marked with signs
  • Fluids: drinking small amounts of fluid often throughout the day, dryness of the tongue, mouth, cough or breath
  • Body: Tends to be thin (extreme cases result in emaciation), vertigo, spasms, cramps and moving pains, pulse is fast and thin
  • Mind: Insomnia, irritability, uneasiness, worry, excess thought
  • Color: Fleshy pink or fresh red tongue and cheeks
  • Heat: Low intermittent fever, palms and soles are hot and sweaty, night sweats

The modern person is a great example of deficiency-heat; uneasy, anxious with an abundance of energy (deeper energy lacking), and relationships are filled with irritations and fighting.  One just need to look at the causes of deficiency-heat to see the correlation.  Stress, excessive noise, competition, consuming warming nutrient deplete substances (alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, synthetic drugs) all deplete yin quickly. Also, overconsumption of spicy foods and food grown on wasted soil are also very yin depleting. A scary trend is emerging in our offspring where they lack the ability as a whole to supply sufficient yin fluids to themselves,  thus perpetuating the abundance of people with deficiency-heat symptoms.

The earth also reflects this deficiency-heat, as high quality sources of nutrient-rich food and clean water dwindle away.  Yin nurtures and stabilizes, the earth needs yin to grow and create.  To support not only your own body, but that of the earth’s, eat only local and organic food.

To combat deficiency-heat one can do activities that cultivate and harmonize yin, such as yoga, meditation, or connecting with the earth (gardening).  One should avoid intoxicants and refined food.  Meat, eggs, and other animal by-products are a good source of yin, but be careful as overconsumption can create sticky mucus.  Also be wary of refined food, especially foods high in sugar, as they offer a quick, temporary yin fix but will ultimately deplete both yin and yang.


Cold arises from the lack of physical activity, eating too much cooling food, or an overexposure to a cold environment.  Cold can also be caused by deficient yang resulting from insufficient warming foods or a constitutional weakness from birth. It takes longer for a cold person to build warmth than for a hot person to lose heat, which means that it is much harder for a person in a cold pattern to get back to normal.

Signs of Cold:

  • Areas affected are kidneys, bladder, bones, hair, emotional fear and sexual function
  • Causes Contraction: Body bends or moves around with difficulty and pain can be intense and fixed.
  • Body: Chilled sensation, dislike of cold, attraction to warmth, overdressed, body excretions will be copious and clear(clear urine, watery stools, or thin watery mucus)

To combat cold work on fears and insecurities, become more active, avoid long baths, and keep kidneys, legs, and lower abdomen warm. Use warming foods and cooking methods—avoid cooling or raw foods.  Do not eat or drink below room temperature and do not eat or drink anything too hot.  Moderate amounts of animal by-products are warming, especially butter. Eat extremely warming foods (ex. hot peppers) sparingly, as too much heat has a cooling effect.  The same principle goes for concentrated sweeteners.





Yin Cold Bamboo shoot, water chestnut, sugar cane, tomato, watermelon, banana, grapefruit, persimmon, mulberry, star fruit, seaweed, kelp, crabs, clams, sprouts, watercress, lettuces, and salt .
Yin Cool Millet, barley, wheat, buckwheat, eggplant, cucumber, celery, peppermint, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard leaf, spinach,  amaranth, pea, mung bean, pears, cantaloupe, apple, pineapple, persimmon, coconut, strawberry, orange, tangerine, mango, papaya,  green tea, tofu, mushrooms, egg white, sesame oil, cream, yogurt and cheese.
Harmonized Yin/Yang Neutral Rice, corn, taro, sweet potato, potato, turnips, carrot, cabbage, radish leaf, beetroot, soybeans, adzuki beans, peanut, cashew, pistachio, black sesame, sunflower seed, plums, fig, grapes, lemon, olives,  shiitake mushroom, (sea) shrimps, pork, duck, oyster, beef,  egg yolk, royal jelly honey, milk, soybean milk, and sugar.
Yang Warm Coriander, chives, onion, leeks, green onion, asparagus, sweet peppers,  spearmint, pomegranate, apricot, peach, cherry, lychee, raspberry, chestnut, pumpkin, glutinous rice, dates, walnut, pine nut, mussels, lobster, fresh water shrimps, chicken, venison, ham, goat milk, maltose, brown sugar, cumin, clove, fennel, garlic, ginger (fresh), dill seed, nutmeg, rosemary, star anise, Sichuan peppercorn, sweet basil, tobacco, coffee, vinegar, wine, vegetable oil.
Yang Hot Black pepper, cinnamon, ginger(dried), chili pepper, and mustard seed.


Once an understanding of one’s personal constitution of cold or warm is reached it is easy to create a diet specific to keeping the balance of yin and yang in the body. If one is not clearly of a cold or warm constitution, then a diet balanced in both properties is best.


While waiting for the next installment, please take a look at the foods in our other blogs to see how to choose the most nutritious groceries, how to store them to retain freshness, the nutritional benefits, and of course—the energetics.