How does Chinese Medicine treat Autism? Chinese Medicine starts with differentiation, similar to pathology in western medicine. In Chinese Medicine theory, liver heat leads to emotional instability, kidney weakness impairs metal concentration and speech delay, spleen deficiency causes bacteria imbalance, indigestion and toxin (phlegm) is the major culprit to all the disorders including stagnant minds, all or any of which can be the cause of Autism. I will first explain the theory of treating Autism with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

According to Chinese Medicine:

Autism is caused by the Imbalance among the Five Major Organs:
1. Liver 2. Spleen 3. Heart 4. Kidney 5. Lungs.

Wrong Diet Causes GI Problems, GI Causes Behavior Problems.

There are five differentiatins of autism.
First differentiaion is Liver Heat.
Second differentiation is Spleen Deficiency, mucus blocks
liver meridian.
Third differentiation is mucus blocks heart (mind) meridian.
Fourth differentiation is Kidney Deficiency (weakness).
Fifth differentiation is Lung Qi Deficiency.


For kids under three years old: Infant Massage
For kids three to seven years old: Acupressure
For kids above seven years old: Acupuncture Kids can start
taking Herbal Formula at the age of two years old.

Excess Liver Heat Leads To:

Hyper Activity
Compulsive Self-Destructive Behaviors

Herbal Formulas:

Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan
Long Dan Xie Gan Wan

Spleen Deficiency Leads To:

Poor Absorption of Nutrients
(which causes mucus BHW accumulation)
Bacteria Imbalance

Herbal Formulas:

Shen Ling Bai Zhu Wan
Curing Pills
Run Chang Wan (Constipation)
GW (Reflex)

Mucus Blocks Heart (Mind) Meridian:

Sensitive to Sound and Light
Asperger Syndrome

Herbal Formulas:

Chai Hu Jia Long Gu Muli Tang
An Sheng Bu Xin Wan
Gan mai Da Zhao Tang
Er Chen Tang

Kidney Deficiency (Weakness):

Speech Delay
Sensory & Motor Development Delay
Mental Concentration

Herbal Formulas:

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan
Te Xiao Zao Ren An Mian Wan
Jin Kui Shen Qi Wan

Lung Qi Deficiency:

Immune Dysfunctions

Herbal Formulas:

Yu Ping Fong San
Chinese Dietary Recommendations
In order to get the most out of acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine, it is very important to support your treatment with proper diet and lifestyle. In Chinese medicine, there is the saying, "Seven parts nursing, three parts treatment." Nursing here means proper diet and lifestyle modifications.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), every food has both a nature and flavor(s). A food's nature is its effect on the temperature of the body. Thus a food can be either hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold. Since Chinese medicine works on the basis of restoring balance to the body, if one suffers from a hot disease, they should avoid hot foods and eat more cool and cold foods, and vice versa .

Likewise, each food has one or more of the five or six flavors. These are sour, bitter, sweet, spicy (acrid, pungent), salty, or bland tastes. Each flavor is associated with one of the main organs and leads the effects of that food to that organ. For instance, sour is the flavor associated with the liver. It leads the effects of a sour food to the liver. In excess, the sour flavor can damage the liver. In addition, each flavor also has a general effect on the body's metabolism. Sour astringes, spicy causes upward and outward movement, salty leads downward and softens, bitter clears heat and also astringes, sweet supplements and also moistens, and bland tasting foods tend to cause urination and seep water.

Therefore, if a person is suffering fron lung dryness, they might want to eat pears which are sweet and especially help generate fluids. However, if a person suffers from evil dampness and phlegm, they should avoid pears. This means that whether a food is good or bad for an individual person is entirely dependent upon that person's TCM pattern diagnosis and the nature and flavor of that food. If one knows the nature and flavor of a food and their TCM pattern diagnosis, one can rationally decide on the impact of that food on that person. For a list of the nature and flavor of 200 common foods, refer to Prince Wen Hui's Cook: Chinese Dietary Therapy by Bob Flaws and Honor Lee Wolfe. In addition, for more information about the following common patterns and the appropriate Chinese therapeutic diet, please see Arisal of the Clear: A Simple Guide to Healthy Eating According to Traditional Chinese Medicine by Bob Flaws.

* For Liver Imbalance
(Liver Qi, Effulgence of Liver Yang, Depressive Liver Heat, Liver Fire Harassing Above, Liver Wind)

Please avoid or minimize the following foods or drinks which aggravate the Chinese concept of the liver:

Excessive Sour Foods and Drinks

Greasy, Fatty, Oily Foods

Hard to Digest Foods such as Nuts

Spicy, Pungent, "Hot" Foods

Overeating in General

Heavy Red Meats in Abundance

* For Digestive Weakness
(Spleen Qi Vacuity, Spleen Yang Vacuity, Spleen Dampness)

Please avoid or minimize the following foods and drinks which aggravate weak spleen function:

Raw Salads, Fruits, and Vegetables

Sugar and Sweets

Cold Drinks with Meals

Frozen or Chilled Foods

Herb Teas or Over the Counter Preparations with Echinacea or Goldenseal



Fruit Juices

Large Doses of Vitamin C

Dairy Products

Melons, Strawberries, Pears, Bananas

Lettuce, Radishes, Celery

Please eat all warm, cooked foods, plenty of cooked vegetables, rice, noodles, soups, and stews. Be sure grains are well-cooked and easily digestible. Eat more frequent but smaller, easier to digest meals. Drink a teacup of warm water, broth, soup, or herb tea with each meal. You may use black and white pepper, cardamom, fresh ginger, ginger powder, cloves, nutmeg, orange peel, and fennel as cooking spices.

* For Excessive Phlegm
Please avoid or minimize the following:

Dairy Products

Sugar and Sweets

Oily, Greasy, Fried, and Fatty Foods

Heavy, Hard to Digest Foods

Overeating in General

Oats, Possibly Wheat


Pork and Beef

If the phlegm is categorized as hot phlegm, please also avoid or minimize:

Spicy, Pungent, "Hot" Foods

* For Kidney Vacuity Weakness
(Kidney Qi Vacuity, Kidney Yang Vacuity, Kidney Qi not consolidating)

Please avoid or minimize the following foods and drinks:

Excessive Fluids

Artificial Sweeteners

Chilled, Frozen Foods and Liquids

* For Lung/Kidney Yin Vacuity
Please avoid or minimize the following foods:

Spicy, Pungent, "Hot" Foods

You may eat some animal meats, eggs, and dairy; oatmeal; cooked pears and apples as long as your case is not complicated by excessive phlegm.

* For Damp Heat
(Liver/Gallbladder Damp Heat, Spleen Damp Heat, Large Intestine Damp Heat, Lower Burner Damp Heat)

Please avoid or minimize the following foods and drinks:

Sugar and Sweets

Nuts and Nut Butters

Citrus Fruits and Juices, (especially orange juice)

Spicy, Pungent, "Hot" Foods

Greasy, Oily, Fried, and Fatty Foods

Pork and Beef

If damp heat is complicated by candidiasis, please avoid or minimize:


Fermented Foods (excepting miso, tempeh, shoyu, and yogurt)

Yeasted Breads and Baked Goods

Any Foods which may be Contaminated by Yeast and Molds Due to Improper or Prolonged Spoilage.

* For Blood Vacuity
Please eat plenty of the following foods:

Cooked Leafy Greens

Regular Small Portions of Animal Protein

Easily Digestible Grains

Cherries, Beets, Grapes, and Raspberries

Meat and Marrow Broths and Soups

Black Beans

Orange and Yellow Vegetables

Everyone should try to eat fresh food, freshly prepared, with a minimum of chemicals, perservatives, or additives. Grains should be cooked thoroughly to allow for easy and complete digestion. Vegetables, on the other hand, should not be overcooked so as to conserve valuable vitamins and enzymes. Sugar, salt, oil, and fat consumption should generally be kept low. most people should try to eat large amounts of roughage and fiber. Dietary changes for chronic disease should be implemented slowly over a period of time but made a continuous part of one's lifestyle. In addition to a healthy diet, it is vitally important to get adequate exercise and rest. These are the three free therapies which are the basis of good health.

To better explain the role of a balanced diet from the energetic aspect of TCM, it will be valuable to review the metabolic model known as the "Middle Burner" on the next page.

* Middle Burner/Digestive Metabolism
What Is The Middle Burner?

The Middle Burner in Chinese Medicine is the heart of the digestive system. A vivid image of the Middle Burner is a wood-burning stove that heats a house. Digestion is the stove, and food is the fuel. The quality of the fuel determines the efficiency of the stove and therefore the warmth of the house, i.e. the health and energy of the body.

Is There A Western Equivalent?

The equivalent to an efficient middle-burner in Western medicine is an effective metabolism. Good metabolism will "burn" the food cleanly, utilizing calories, burning fat, and assimilating vitamins and nutrients, giving the body energy for living. If your metabolism is appropriate for your activities and food intake, you will naturally maintain your optimal weight.

What Benefits the Digestive Fire?

When you wake up in the morning the fire in your stove has reduced to embers. The fire must be stoked to carry out its digestive function.

To build a stong fire, the day begins with breakfast, which acts as kindling. In Chinese medicine, hot, whole grain cereal, "congee," is an ideal meal to gently start your digestive metabolism for clean, efficient, warm burning. (See Congee on the next page).


The digestive fire is strongest at lunchtime Lunch should therefore be the biggest meal of the day, with the most variety. It should contain concentrated protein such as animal products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

The last meal, should ideally be the smallest. It's best if the meal is eaten before 7 p.m., and that the meal is cooked, such as steamed vegetables and a grain.

What Injures the Middle Burner?
A large, heavy breakfast would be like throwing a big oak log on a struggling, flickering flame; it might be snuffed. Cold cereal and milk would be like throwing wet, soggy leaves on a tender little fire. Fried eggs and hashbrowns would be like green wood; it burns poorly and produces thick, noxious smoke. Not eating breakfast would certainly put the fire out for the day. Ice-cold drinks and food like ice cream also destroy the digestive fire.

* Congee
What Is It?
Congee is a grain based, usually rice, medicinal porridge served for centuries in traditional Chinese homes. It is used preventatively to promote good health and long life. It is used specifically to help the body recover from various ailments.

Congee is an excellent whole-grain hot breakfast alternative.

Benefits Of A Complete Breakfast?
It can jump start your digestive system. Its long cooking time breaks down the grain, making it very easy to digest and assimilate, providing your body with the nutrients it needs. It sttrengthens digestion, builds energy and enhances metabolism.

Congee is economical and easy to prepare; it is high in nutrients and low in fat.

How Do I Prepare Congee?
Congee is easily prepared overnight in your crock pot. If you do not have a crock pot, it can be simmered on the stove over very low heat. It is important to use clay, enamel, glass or stainless steel pot for cooking. Do not use aluminum or iron pots, chemicals from these pots can leech from the pot into your food.

Suggested Cooking Ingredients for 1 Serving:

Part Grain (¼ cup)
Parts Water (1 1/4 cup)
Combine in crockpot and cook on low overnight (8 hours). You should adjust the proportions of grain to water until you get the consistency of congee that satisfies you the most. Increase serving size as desired

For added flavor, you can add your favorite spices (see below). Your acupuncturist may suggest specific flavorings or added nuts, fruits, vegetables or herbs that would be most beneficial to you.

Suggested Congee Grain Combinations:
Brown Rice/Barley, Cinnamon, Ginger

Benefits: Reduce excess water weight

Millet/Buckwheat/Rye, Allspice, Cinnamon Stick

Benefits: Strengthen Adrenals, Warms Digestion











Wheat Berries



Bay Leaf







Lyceum Berries


Dried Cherries


*Pumpkin Seeds

*add at end


Sweet Potato









Maple Syrup

Rice Milk


By Qiying Jiang

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