Let medicine be your food

I can guarantee that everyone has used some form of Herbal medicine. Unless you haven’t brewed a cup of tea, enjoyed a beer or glass of wine; or simply cooked a meal at home. I want you to consider herbal medicine as more than just a treatment. It’s everything to do with food, what we eat, how we prepare our meals and enjoy them.

Herbal medicine is the use of plants for medicinal purposes to attain and maintain balanced health. However, this doesn’t just apply to the medicinal plants, broadly speaking it includes all plants; including the fruits and vegetables we eat daily. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates stated, “Let medicine be your food, and your food medicine.”


As a holistic system, herbal medicine treats the whole person rather than just disease states and symptoms. Illness is considered to be a manifestation of disharmony and imbalance within the person and their life. Hippocrates’ philosophy still holds true today. A balanced diet is one of the free therapies we can all give to ourselves. The others include enough restful sleep; time to relax (and be still); and also time to play.

Through considering this simple philosophy of balance we can re-introduce wellness into our modern way of living. We can all apply a little common sense to our lives so we are a more stressless and balanced. Making the effort to change our lives is the greatest challenge any person faces when they work with me.



Though making those changes to diet and lifestyle can address at least 80% of many health issues. In this part of the world, we tend to only pay attention to our health when we become ill. We forget how our lives became imbalanced and then we want our dis-ease or illness fixed quickly!

Every type of food has an inherent Cool or Warm energy. The Cooling or Warming energy of food affects the body by creating more Coldness or Heat in it. While Western cultures tend to consider foods as nutritional groups, Eastern cultures (TCM & Ayurveda) acknowledge the energy of food regardless of the group it is in.

Learning the energy of foods is important to regain and maintain balanced health. If a person has a lot of Heat in the body and continues to eat warming and heating foods, then naturally the body only creates more Heat and its associated issues – acidic digestion, tissue dryness, irritability, hyperactivity, excess sweating. The same is true for a Cold person, if she or he eats a lot of cooling foods, then the Coldness leads to low energy, impaired immunity, poor digestion, oedema, apathy, emotional withdrawal.

Even if a person is working with herbal medicines, if they consume a diet that energetically opposes what the body needs and what the herbs are intended to do; then herbal (or pharmaceutical) treatment will either be less effective or have no effect at all. Often the right herbal treatment can be sabotaged by inappropriate diet. This can lead to a patient’s health worsening, remaining the same or just progressing slowly. Every food eaten affects the body in some way, you really are what you eat.

What constitution am I?
There is no great mystery to determining your energetic constitutional type, it is unique to you and it can change with age and lifestyle. You know how certain climates, seasons and times of day make you feel physically and emotionally. Women are predominantly considered Yin or cool energetically. Men are generally the opposite; Yang or warm energetically. Though I’ve worked with plenty of Yin men and Yang-natured women.

Cold or Cool person


  • Prefers warm, dry and bright environments
  • Feel better for eating cooked, full foods, may choose stimulating spicy and comforting sweet foods
  • They function better later in the day, may find stimulants are part of their diet
  • Emotionally sensitive and introverted, tend to keep their thoughts/feelings to self
  • An aversion to cold environments, crave warmth and wear warm, thick clothing
  • May have a pale complexion, cool limbs and cold extremities (even in Summer)
  • Prone to poor digestion, lowered immunity, lack of thirst, fatigue, slow metabolism, oedema, pale urine and loose stools; take a long time to recover from illnesses.

Warm or Hot person

fiery man

  • Prefers cool, moist and low light environments
  • Feel better for eating lighter, raw and empty foods, may choose cooling foods -fruit and veggies
  • They function well in the mornings, find stimulants unnecessary; becoming tired in the evening
  • Extrovert, opinionated and talkative
  • An aversion to warm/hot environments, need cool and flowing air and wear thin, light clothing
  • May have a ruddy complexion, warm extremities (even in Winter)
  • Prone to fever, thirst, dry rashes, hyperactivity, restlessness, irritability, fast metabolism, dark yellow urine and constipation; quickly recover from acute illnesses.

You will notice that you may have changed constitution as you have aged or that you are a combination of constitutional type.


A balanced diet is instrumental in attaining and maintaining great health. Everyone requires different foods to stay healthy. This can vary from season to season and year to year. There is no diet that is ideal and healthy for everyone. Each person should learn what their current bodily needs are and eat the foods for their constitution. In family environments, this can be an issue when cooking for many. Be flexible with meal choices, there are no strict rules and food should be enjoyable.

For nutritional profiling and Herbal medicine consultations contact John at Herbal Spirit on 07751 485204 or email herbalspirit@hotmail.com

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