Acupuncture & Nutrition

Blue Heron on Shoreline - Acupuncture & Nutrition

CHINESE DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS ARE MADE ON A STRICTLY PERSONAL BASIS. The foods that may affect a person in a very profound way may not influence another. Thorough assessment and diagnosis should be established before any dietary recommendations are made. Because Classical Chinese Dietary Therapy is an exacting science, a consultation is necessary in order to properly diagnose and prescribe. These guidelines serve as the most basic of reminders for patients.

Common Dietary Guidelines

Include these grains, which are beneficial for everyone and of every age: buckwheat, millet, quinoa, long grain white and brown rice, amaranth and sorghum. These non-glutinous grains are good as porridges for breakfast or as a base for any meal, for example in summer salads served at room temperature. The above grains can also be used as flours for pancakes, pie crusts, muffins, scones and gluten-free breads.

Gluten, Dairy, Sugar

These three food types are absolute contraindications in cases of exhaustion, prolonged fatigue, allergies (acute and chronic), post-nasal drip, and excess mucus production from the nose, eyes, lungs, vagina, or in the urine (cloudy urine) or stool. Please consider making changes in your diet and exclude these foods from your daily regimen even before you go for your acupuncture treatment. Try doing that for at least couple of weeks and you will see the difference.

Coffee, Garlic, Onion, Chili and other hot spices, Chocolate

These foods are absolutely contraindicated in a wide variety of complaints: all heart conditions including high blood pressure, all gastrointestinal conditions from gastric reflux and stomach ulcers to Crohn’s disease, and all conditions of recurring headaches and migraines. The treatment of these and the multitude of other conditions would not be very successful without following this recommendation.

Chicken, Crab, Lobster, Shrimp and Prawns

The foods are absolutely contraindicated in all skin conditions.


The most common question I am asked about a dairy free diet is "What do I do about calcium?" IIf you take dairy out of your diet and are worried about calcium, be reminded that dairy foods over time deplete calcium levels. There are countless resources available if you’re interested in reading about this, ranging from popular websites to sites which analyze the landmark Harvard "nurses study" that proved what the Chinese have known for thousands of years.

Usable calcium is found in high levels in dark green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds (do not eat these if you have diverticulosis), sardines (eat the bones), oysters and beans. Gentle, daily, weight-bearing exercise is the best thing you can do to maintain or strengthen bones.

Supplements, Vitamins and Acupuncture

Vitamins and Enzymes

A Classical Acupuncturist seeks to restore the energetic flow of the gastrointestinal tract so that it can resume its function of breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. Supplementation with vitamins and enzymes has minimal effect in a weak digestive tract because a compromised tract has a limited ability to absorb nutrients regardless of the source. Taking a vitamin pill with everything lumped in together is imprecise and ineffective. In some cases the body’s own function is undermined, for example; taking CoQ10 for long periods causes the body to reduce its production of CoQ10, creating a cyclical reliance.

Vitamins are helpful when the diet is lacking, but it makes sense only to take the vitamin or mineral that’s missing. Taking excess supplementation requires the body to work hard to detoxify itself, further weakening digestion. Where indicated, vitamin therapies are best done for ten days followed by a three week break.

A course of acupuncture can assist enormously in rectifying lost digestive function by reminding the body of its correct energetic flow and restoring the communication of energy between organs, resulting in a finely tuned and vibrant digestive capacity. Acupuncture can restore long lost organ and hormonal function.

Common Supplements

Reflux Aids (Rolaids, Tums, etc.)

These are among the most damaging of the self-medications. A stomach in reflux is sending a clear message; your body doesn’t like the food you are eating, or your body doesn’t like the amount of food you are eating, or your body is reacting against your environment: you may be under too much emotional, work, or toxic stress.

The five most common causes of reflux observed are: coffee, chilies, garlic, onion and chocolate. These are closely followed by stress. Reflux medications taken habitually cause very serious health problems due to the clue given the stomach to produce more, not less acid. This creates cyclical dependence. These calcium-based medications cool the stomach down and slow digestion, creating "damp" sluggish conditions in the tract. This dampness, or incompletely digested food, ends up in the bloodstream and can lead to arteriosclerosis.


This is one of the most misunderstood of the modern dietary supplements. Garlic is an extremely hot herb, not a supplement, and not really a food. Garlic will over time create an enormous amount of heat in the stomach and intestinal tract in general and will erode the stomach lining over time. Garlic has a reputation for blood purifying, and indeed that is one of it’s functions in Chinese herbal medicine, but the herb is used for short periods of time only. Long term use of garlic will heat the blood and can cause high blood pressure, headaches, and various other conditions of "excess heat".


This herb is for early onset signs only; when you think you might be coming down with a cold. It is designed to open the protective qi of the body and allow the cold to exit. Taken after the first day or two of a cold, the herb can drive the cold in further because the protective qi becomes depleted, allowing the cold free reign. Echinacea is not for cold prevention.

Cranberry Extract

This is an extremely strong, cold herb. If this has been prescribed, it should only be taken for very short durations. It is far preferable to use unsweetened cranberry juice. A urinary tract infection, like all conditions, should be treated at the root of its cause. Causes can vary widely and are very successfully treated with acupuncture.

If you would like to know more and get help with your current dietary needs, please take a look at the website of the renowned specialist and wonderful person Andrew Sterman.