Every food has a basic pattern of thermal effect that can influence the body. Foods can warm the body, heat it, they can have a refreshing effect on the body or cool it significantly. Foods can also leave the body temperatures unchanged.

These effects cannot be detected in the sense of a measurable temperature increase. When eating a Chili con carne, we can sense a distinct feeling of heat, perhaps we even sweat on the forehead, but our body temperature does not rise to a feverish level. When eating watermelons or honey melons in winter, which are naturally cooling, it can lead to diarrhea.

According to TCM, every food and drink has a thermal effect.

Neutral: symbolizes the center and balance; none of the conflicting energies dominate; a quiet base is created.

Cold: creates cold in the body. Cold slows down processes and easily causes stagnation, it cools heating processes and soothes an excited Shen (Spirit).

Cool: builds up the bodily fluids. It holds the Yin together and spares the reserves, keeps the Spirit in his habitation and tonifies the blood.

Warm: strengthens the actively developing energies, the Yang and the Qi. It warms the body and keeps harmful wind-cold influences at bay.

Hot: is a violent influence that strongly stimulates and accelerates the Yang. Excessive heat produces harmful heat and dries out the bodily fluids.







Grains / Legumes / Nuts

Wheat, soy bean sprouts, tofu, barley, buckwheat, amaranth, mung beans

Rye, oats, round grain rice, corn, spelt, peas, lentils, sesame, soy beans, Adzuki beans, Kidney beans, peanuts, coconut, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts

Sticky rice


Dandelion, green salad, asparagus, seaweeds, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts

Cucumber, tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, eggplant, mushrooms, courgette, radish, red cabbage, spinach, beetroot

Carrots, potatoes, white cabbage, cauliflower, avocado, Shiitake

Fennel, leek, onion, chives, oyster mushrooms

Garlic, ginger


Banana, Melon (water melon and honey melon), kaki, star fruit, kiwi Pear, apple, lemon, grapefruit, pineapple, strawberries, orange, mango Plums, grapes, papaya, apricots, figs

Pomegranate, peach, cherries, raspberries, mandarin, lychee

Animal-derived Foods

Horse meat, crabs, snails, yoghurt, quark

Octopus, rabbit, bunny, butter, cream cheese Liver (beef), goose, pig, quail, pigeon, saltwater fish, herring, perch, carp, squid, oysters, chicken eggs, cow milk, cream, cheese, quark Beef, duck, chicken, ham, sheep, goat, game, deer, seafood, (shrimp, crayfish), eel, salmon, anchovies, egg yolks, sheep milk, goat milk Lamb, trout

/ Oils and fats

Salt, soy sauce Sesame oil, olive oil, sunflower oil Saffron, liquorice, peanut oil Coriander, star anise, nutmeg, cloves, cardamon, brown sugar, white sugar, honey, vinegar, carob, rapeseed oil Black pepper, chilli, cinnamon
Stimulants Ice Green tea, peppermint tea White wine, beer Red wine, sparkling wine, coffee, hot chocolate, black tea Tobacco, high-percentage spirits (whiskey, mulled wine, brandy)

The Techniques of Change

Heat it up:

Noticeably making it warmer – hot:

Cooling it down:

Noticeably making it cooler – cold:


Apple is cooling. When cooked as compote it is neutral. By adding cinnamon and cloves, the compote is warming.

Beef is warming. By searing it as a steak, it becomes heating.

Cucumber juice or celery juice is more easily tolerated in heating conditions. The production of juice energetically warms the pressed vegetables.

Lentils are neutral. Germination make them cooling.

Raw tomatoes are cold, according to TCM. Cooking them to make a sauce or soup will make them warmer and have a slightly cooling to neutral effect.