Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tao Of Love And Sex: Nourishing Sexuality Through Diet

Taoist culture recognizes the utility of certain foods for the maintenance of good health. Some of these belong to the category of tonics. These foods, as one might expect, stimulate the sexual functions.

In the Neijing, the physician Qi Bo addresses the Yellow Emperor as follows:
In ancient times some men knew the Tao. They followed the rules of yin and yang; they could control their emotions and knew how to avoid eating and drinking too little or too much by taking into account the five celestial movements, the five terrestrial tastes, and the four seasons.

Chinese medicine classifies therapeutic foods in much the same way it classifies medicinal plants: there are foods for superficial symptoms, for dispelling heat, for toning, and so on. Here are some foods that are recognized for their sexual properties. They are particularly useful in cases of sexual fatigue and impotence:


Energy Action

Longan, black carp, potato,
red grape,

Qj tonics

Lung yen, grapes, wine, Chinese


Nuts, grapes and old wine,


Litchis, nuts, grapes


Dried ginger, seaweed, sea

Yang tonics

Chicken, lamb, beef, kidneys,

Jing tonics (foods that restore



Egg yolks, duck eggs, pork,
squid, and many

Yin tonics


Note that animal products figure prominently among foods in this category. Respectful of the world of nature, particularly of its living creatures, Taoists are often repelled by the idea of eating meat; these foods thus constitute an exception in the Taoist tradition and are to be used on an exceptional basis. Taoists have tended to be vegetarians out of respect for animal life in all its forms. Some tonic dishes do, however, make use of meats and fish, and Taoists have always attached a great deal of importance to the observation that human organs can be treated with the corresponding organs of animals: for example, animal liver for toning the human liver, animal kidneys for fortifying the human kidneys, and so on.

In China certain conditions (sho) axe considered the warning signs of organ or energy deficiencies that can lead to impotence or disease. As noted earlier, traditional Chinese medicine groups these signs into symptom complexes that indicate the particular pathological area that needs to be remedied. Sexual excesses can lead to these major fatigues, as well as to other fatigues and ailments.

Here are some of the principal deficiency conditions that can manifest themselves in the diminishment of sexual capacities. These energy syndromes take up from those developed earlier in a more simplified way in the section on sexual problems:

Deficient Vital Gate (Shen Men)
Indications: Pallor, joint pains, weakness in the legs, neurasthenia, ejaculation with thin sperm, along with feelings of cold and a thready pulse.
Traditional Taoist dietary recommendation: Foods that warm kidney yang, such as black sesame seeds, chicken livers (or livers of other fowl), kidneys, hazelnuts, strawberry and raspberry compote.

Emotional troubles affecting the spleen and the heart
Indications: Dull or yellow complexion, lack of appetite, fatigue, depression.
Traditional Taoist dietary recommendation: Red dates, decoction of dates, beef, two cups of coffee per week.

Kidney-damaging fear
Indications: Suspicion, fear, lack of courage, palpitations, insomnia.
Traditional Taoist dietary recommendation: Fortify the kidneys and calm the spirit with a diet of millet, mulberries, wheat (flakes or berries), hops, decoctions of thyme, rosemary, lily flowers, ginseng.

Deficient yin and pseudo-excess of yang
Indications: Great sexual desire; very premature ejaculation; insomnia due to excessive ideation; dry throat; vision difficulties; concentrated urine, dark yellow or orange in color; rapid, thready pulse; red tongue.
Traditional Taoist dietary recommendation: Pear peelings, asparagus, coconut milk, duck, chicken eggs, mulberries, raw oysters, pork.

Deficient energy in the Middle Burner
Indications: Inability to maintain a firm erection; short-windedness; weakness; lack of appetite; deep, thready pulse; thin, moist coating on the tongue. Traditional Taoist dietary recommendation: Eggs of the swallow, beef, pheasant, hare, short-grain rice, sweet white rice, brown sugar, cherries, chicken, coconut, red dates, dates, olive oil.

Deficient kidney yang energy
Indications: Complete inability to attain erection, aching joints, weakness in the legs, seminal emissions, premature ejaculation, coldness in the limbs.
Traditional Taoist dietary recommendation: The same as for deficient Vital Gate.

Congested liver energy
Indications: Pain in the sides, frequent eructation (belching)-
Traditional Taoist dietary recommendation: Disperse the energy of the liver channel with a decoction of orange peels and leaves and flowers of the mandarin orange.

Kidney-damaging sexual excesses
Indications: Coughing, vomiting, lumbago, weakness in the knees, coldness in the limbs, seminal emissions and premature ejaculation, hot flushes throughout the body. Traditional Taoist dietary recommendation: Black sesame seeds, black sesame oil (available from Chinese grocery stores), beef marrow, perch, strawberry and raspberry compote, hazelnuts (soaked in water overnight).
Naturally, with each of these energy disorders, not all the symptoms will appear at the same time. The recommended foods should be eaten at least two times a week, with meals.

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