According to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the lungs are vulnerable organs, in which the flow of qi can easily be disturbed, leading to cough or other problems. Appropriate self management is crucial for long term lung health.
The food and beverage we consume daily can greatly affect the body's healing process, either to promote or aggravate it. TCM claims that it is due to the energetic properties of foods which act upon the body in different ways and affect the state of health. We should be chosen according to our body types and conditions; inappropriate intake will lead to extreme energy excess inside the body and disturb the internal balance. When a person suffers from a disorder or takes medication, he should avoid certain foods too.
Chinese dietary advices on coughs
|Types of cough
||Foods to avoid
(Coughing with thin and white phlegm)
|Pungent and warming foods help promote the dispersing of coldness, reduce secretion and relieve coughing: ginger, onion, green onion, coriander, radish (cooked), pumpkin, apricot, tangerine, garlic, cinnamon, vinegar brewed with herbs, pig's lung, carp and chub.
||Food has a cold property, and frozen, raw, greasy or difficult to digest foods usually don't favor the healing process, and should be limited. Foods with cold properties include banana, plum, fresh melons, peppermint, calm and crab.
(Coughing with yellow and thick phlegm)
|Foods with a cooling effect and help dissolve phlegm include fresh radish, fresh lotus root, bean curd, coix seed, green bean, wheat, pear, arhat fruit, persimmon, loquat fruit, fig, olive, water chestnut, apple, strawberry, pineapple, coconut, star fruit, melons, bamboo shoot, celery, bean sprouts, chrysanthemum, peppermint, kelp, seaweed and duck meat.
||Hot and greasy food can easily accumulate heat, and thus make the phlegm thick and difficult to expectorate. Such foods include ginseng, mutton, pepper, ginger, fennel, nutmeg, cinnamon, longan fruit, litchi and red dates.
|Dry cough / Chronic persistent cough
||Since the lungs are either too dry or suffered from certain degree of damage, foods that can nourish the lungs or promote the tissue repairing are beneficial, such as lily bulb, sugarcane, soybean milk, honey, maltose, white fungus, pine nut, olive, Chinese torreya, sesame, dried persimmon, almond, pear, tomato, mulberry, milk, loquat fruit, fig, duck meat, carp, pig's skin and lung.
||Those with an irritated throat should avoid eating hot and spicy foods; while those with a long-term persistent cough should limited the amount of frozen or greasy foods they consume.
Chinese recipes for coughs
When a cough develops into chronic, it takes time to go through the healing process even with proper treatment. Food can work to soothe the throat, regulate secretion in the airways and promote lung functioning. A well-plan diet not only speeds up the healing process but also ensures a full recovery. Food ingredients that commonly used in the Chinese recipes for cough include:
- Soothing the throat: chrysanthemum, liquorice root, cabbage, olive, mango, pig's skin and duck egg;
- Resolving phlegm: arhat fruit, radish, sponge cucumber, kelp, laver, onion, tangerine peel, pomelo, kumquat, bamboo shoot and mushroom;
- Nourishing the lungs: lily bulb, fritillary bulb, dried persimmon, rock sugar, maltose, apricot kernel, pear, fig, pig's lung, white fungus and black fungus.
Below are recipes for different types of cough.
1. Wind-cold type cough
- Place fresh ginger (10g, shredded) and perilla leaf (5g, crushed) in a cup, put in hot water and let the ingredients soak for 10 minutes, serve as hot tea.
- Prepare apricot kernel (10g, crushed), fresh ginger (10g, sliced) and fresh radish (100g, sliced); boil with 500ml of water for 15 minutes, serve as hot tea.
Fresh radish, ginger and bitter apricot kernel.
- Prepare fresh radish juice (50ml) and ginger juice (10ml), add some warm water to dilute, serve as tea.
- Prepare apricot kernel (15g, ground into thick juice) and rice (50g); bring 1000ml of water to the boil, add the ingredients, and simmer under low heat for 30 minutes or until the liquid turns thick, add sugar to taste.
2. Wind-heat type cough
- Prepare peppermint (15g), perilla leaf (10g) and tangerine peel (10g); boil with 500ml of water for 15 minutes, add rock sugar to taste and serve as hot tea.
- Prepare mulberry leaf (10g), chrysanthemum (10g) and apricot kernel (10g, crushed); boil with 500ml of water for 15 minutes, add rock sugar to taste and serve as hot tea.
- Prepare fresh lotus root juice (1/2 cup) and pear juice (1/2 cup), mix and drink.
- Prepare fresh radish juice (30ml), add in maltose (20ml), stir and drink.
- Chew and suck fresh olive frequently.
3. Dry cough
- Prepare apricot kernel (10g, crushed), one pear (cut in half and remove the core) and rock sugar (20g); boil with 500ml of water for 20 minutes, drink the solution and eat the pear.
Bitter apricot kernel, pear and rock sugar.
- Prepare fresh lily bulb (50g), loquat fruit (200g) and lotus root (200g), make a salad.
- Prepare peppermint (6g), upright ladybell root (9g), sessile stemona root (9g), and liquorice root (4g); boil with 750ml of water for 20 minutes, serve as tea.
- Prepare fresh peppermint (10g) and fresh reed rhizome (60g); clean and cut into fine pieces, steep the ingredients in boiling water for 10 minutes, drink the warm solution frequently.
- Prepare one pear (peeled, cut into half and remove the core), unibract fritillary bulb (3g, powdered) and rock sugar (6g); stuff the fritillary bulb powder and rock sugar in the hole of the pear, recombined the pear together and double steam for one hour.
4. Phlegm-heat cough
- Prepare dried arhat fruit (1/4 piece), dried persimmon (1 piece) and rock sugar 10g. Clean and crush the first two ingredients, place in a cup of hot water, infuse for 15 minutes then add sugar to taste.
Arhat fruit, dried persimmon and rock sugar.
- Prepare fresh lily bulb (50g), sponge cucumber (100g), carrot (100g) and onion (50g); cut the ingredients into pieces, stir fry and serve in a dish.
- Prepare fresh radish (250g), fresh lotus root (250g) and two pears; make the ingredients into a juice with food processor, add honey to taste.
- Chew and suck fresh olive frequently.
5. Phlegm-dampness cough
- Prepare dried tangerine peel (6g), poria (9g) and fresh ginger (10g); Crush the ingredients, place in a cup of hot water, infuse for 15 minutes, serve as warm tea.
- Prepare dried pomelo peel (6-9g); clean and place in a cup of hot water, infuse for 10 minutes, add rock sugar to taste and serve warm.
- Prepare fresh ginger (4 slices), black Chinese dates (6 pieces, crushed), boil with 800ml of water for 20 minutes, drink the solution frequently.
- Prepare a pomelo; peel and take out the fresh, marinate with honey for 2-3 days, eat one clove a day.
6. Chronic cough due to lung deficiency
- Prepare figwort root (6g), dwarf lily-turf tuber (6g), balloonflower root (6g), smoked plum (3g) and liquorice root (3g); clean and crush the ingredients, place in a cup of hot water and infuse for 15 minutes, serve warm.
- Prepare coastal glehnia root (8g), dwarf lily-turf tuber (6g) and mulberry leaf (6g); clean and crush the ingredients, place in a cup of hot water and infuse for 15 minutes, serve warm.
- Prepare fresh radish (500g), maltose (15g), dried persimmon (20g, crushed) and unibract fritillary bulb (6g, powdered); make a radish juice and mix it with maltose, double steam the juice for one hour, then add in persimmon and fritillary bulb, stir evenly and serve warm.
- Prepare schisandra (4g), ginseng (4g) and perilla stem (3g); clean and crush the ingredients, infuse into hot water for 15 minutes, drink the warm solution and repeat this two to three times.
Schisandra, ginseng and perilla stem.
Prepare dried persimmon (2 pieces), fresh lily bulb (50g) and white fungus (15g, soaked); cut the ingredients into pieces, simmer with 1000ml of water for one hour, add rock sugar to taste and serve hot.