The Wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine Diet Therapy: Exploring the Benefits and Healing Effects of Congee

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a time-honored medical system, places significant emphasis on the role of diet therapy in maintaining health and treating ailments. Among the array of choices in TCM food therapy, congee stands out as a classic option due to its potential benefits and healing effects. This article delves into how TCM views the advantages of congee, uncovering the wisdom and scientific basis behind its use.

Types and Functions of Congee:

According to TCM principles, congee can offer various healing effects based on its ingredients and preparation methods. For instance, watery rice congee can moisturize the lungs, aiding in respiratory system regulation and providing relief for chronic coughs and asthma. On the other hand, thicker congee varieties serve to warm the stomach, making them suitable for individuals with poor digestion or stomach cold, and helping to promote spleen and stomach functions. Regardless of the type, congee's easy digestibility alleviates gastrointestinal stress and aids nutrient absorption, proving especially beneficial for those with weak digestive systems.

The Concept of Five Flavors and Five Colors:

TCM's food therapy adheres to the "five flavors and five colors" concept, highlighting their role in balancing and regulating the body. When preparing congee, various ingredients can be chosen based on their nature to achieve this balance. For instance, red bean congee is believed to invigorate blood circulation and dissolve stasis, making it suitable for addressing skin issues resulting from blood and Qi deficiency. Green bean congee, on the other hand, has a cooling and detoxifying effect, making it useful for alleviating conditions like mouth ulcers caused by excess heat. This practice of selecting ingredients according to the five flavors and colors contributes to balancing the body's Yin-Yang and Five Elements, resulting in the therapeutic effects of food.

Warm Tonifying and Heat-Clearing Properties:

According to TCM theory, congee possesses warm tonifying and heat-clearing properties, depending on its ingredients and cooking methods. For individuals with a cold constitution, congee made from warming ingredients such as ginger and red dates can be chosen. This type of congee helps to warm the spleen and stomach, promoting digestion and absorption, ultimately improving symptoms associated with a cold constitution. Conversely, those with heat-related ailments can opt for congee with cooling and heat-clearing ingredients like coix seed and mung beans. This kind of congee aids in clearing heat and toxins, offering relief from internal heat-related symptoms.

Ease of Digestion and Absorption:

Congee's status as a light meal contributes to its ease of digestion and absorption. In TCM, the spleen and stomach are considered the source of transformation and transportation, directly impacting overall health. The cooking process of congee softens ingredients, reducing the burden on the spleen and stomach and allowing them to better accomplish digestion and absorption. Simultaneously, the nutrients in congee are more readily absorbed by the body, playing a crucial role in maintaining health and recovering strength.


The wisdom of TCM's food therapy spans generations, with congee being a prime example of this knowledge and theory. Beyond being a simple food, congee serves as a therapeutic method that can be tailored to various constitutions and needs through ingredient selection and preparation methods. Whether for tonification, heat-clearing, or balancing Yin-Yang and Five Elements, congee embodies the wisdom of TCM food therapy, guiding us toward better health. While relishing its deliciousness, let us not overlook the healing power embedded in congee.


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