Nurturing Life – Yojo – 養生 – No. 7 of the Series

Rice Porridge with Pickled Vegetables

Rice Porridge with Pickled Vegetables

Porridge or Steak?:
Let’s imagine, it is cold and raining outside; and you have just arrived to a big meeting.  You spotted some of the participants sneezing, coughing and blowing their noses; and you have a bit of shiver on your back and a slight headache.  Now, you fear that you may be coming down with a cold too…  You want to go home, get warm, eat a nourishing food and have a good rest.  What would you eat then to get yourself to feel stronger…a simple porridge or a lean steak?

Immune Cells’ Patrol at Their Best:
When you are coming down with a cold, what you eat may decide which way you go with the cold, either get better or feel more sick, says Dr. Tei.  Some of you may think that a steak can give you the extra stamina you need to sail through this period.  However, the better choice would be a simple rice porridge with grated ginger and a pickled plum, Umeboshi in Japanese.  Also, something hot and lightly seasoned, such as a chicken soup, would be another great choice.  An important thing is that you don’t want to burden your digestive system particularly when you are feeling vulnerable as in the beginning stage of a cold.

Now, scientists know that 60 ~ 70 % of immune cells are in the intestines.  So if you burden the intestines with a large quantity of heavy foods, the immune cells will be “glued to” the intestinal walls and won’t be able to support the rest of the body.  When viruses are entering the body, you need those immune cells to get out there within the whole body and fight against the viruses.  Therefore, when you feel like you are catching a cold, it is more important to eat light, keep the body warm and for you to be well rested.  In this way, a parasympathetic (branch of the autonomic) nervous system becomes activated and your immune power goes up…giving you a better chance of feeling better soon.

It is interesting, as the above advice was given in the description of one of the classic Kampo formulae for a beginning stage of a cold, called Keishito or 桂枝湯 (Cinnamon Combination) in one of the classical Kampo texts, called Sho Kan Ron or 傷寒論, which was believed to have been written approximately 2000 years ago.

Happy Digestive Organs – Light Work and Resting:
Many intriguing ideas and insights on healthy living from a Kampo point of view coincide with what has been preached in another extraordinary book called, Yojokun or 養生訓, “Lessons on Nurturing Life”.  The author (1630-1714) was a physician for a samurai clan, a botanist and a neo-Confucian philosopher.  The book is a compilation of precepts for living life mentally, spiritually and physically to its fullest.  In fact, the author completed the book when he was 84 years old based on the collections of his own notes on health and happiness, and how to prevent the onset of disease.  Although the author extensively wrote on the mind, emotions, exercises, sexual activities etc., here are some nutritional/eating guidance, which are again surprisingly appropriate even today.

  • When it comes to rare or beautifully prepared food, you should stop eating to a point where you are seventy to eighty percent satisfied.  Never continue eating until you are full in the stomach.
  • Your meals should be light and lightly seasoned.  Do not overeat fatty foods and strongly seasoned foods.  Never eat raw and cold foods.  Limit to one cup of soup, one plate of fish and one or two side dishes.
  • Warming foods are good and cooling foods are not.
  • Supper should be light and in a smaller portion.
  • Do not eat late at night.  Going to sleep right after eating is not good.  If you do, you will get ill.
  • Snacks between meals are not good.

The digestive system benefits from a good rest with some period of no eating (it does not mean extended fasting here).  So have a think how you can give your hard working digestive organs a good rest in your eating life.  This plays a big role in maintaining your health throughout your life – Nurturing Life!



Dr. Munetetsu Tei: “Train Your Intestines To Lose Weight And Become Healthy!” (in Japanese). Shufunotomo, 2011.

Keisetsu Otsuka, Sho Kan Ron Commentary (original in Japanese), Sogen Sha 1966.

Ekiken Kaibara, Yojokun (original in Japanese); translated into modern Japanese by Tomonobu Itoh, Kodansha Gatsujyutsu Bunko, 1982.

Ekiken Kaibara, Yojokun: life lessons from a samurai; translated into English by William Scott Wilson, Kodansha International, 2008.


Have Your Carvings Changed Recently? – No. 6 of the Series

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

You probably have some favourite foods, but “If you are quite particular about a certain food or your cravings recently or suddenly changed, it may indicate an illness”, warns Dr. Tei.

There is a profound relationship between foods and illnesses, and Kampo views that an illness makes you crave a certain food.  In fact, people with a chronic illness crave foods that can make the illness worse.  In other words, they tend to favour the foods that make the illness more powerful.  Therefore, if they stop eating those foods, the illness naturally weakens.  If your favourite food has suddenly changed, then stop and take a note of it, as your new food craving may be due to the illness that is driving you desire for it.

When “abnormality” happens in the body, particularly when something is growing large fast; what you crave often changes.  Pregnancy is a classic example.

Obviously, pregnancy is not illness, but lots of changes are taking place in women’s bodies and something new is rapidly growing inside them.  Pregnancy often makes women crave even something that they have never eaten before, and a great deal of it too.

Although there are different kinds of overweight depending on your constitutions, “cold foods” are the most common ones that overweight people crave.  You can imagine as follows.  Fats (‘illness’) badly crave something cold because they don’t want to melt away with the warmth and want to stay where they are (keeping you overweight).

In general, overweight people start a meal with a sip of ice cold water or a cold dish, such as a chilled salad.  Thin people generally do the opposite and start with a hot dish and then move onto cold ones. By starting with warm foods, thin people are naturally enhancing the intestines’ metabolism.

Cold foods lower the metabolism and warm foods raise it, and happens more so in women.  It is actually a very good thing that you sweat lightly (a sign of raised metabolism) during or after you eat meals.  In other words, a sequence of what you eat can give different outcomes to your health and influence on being, becoming and reducing overweight in the long term.

Cold Foods and the Appetite Centre in the Brain
Why do you eat?  Of course you eat to get nutrients for your bodily functions.  However, the most important thing about eating is the following:  Does what you eat satisfy the appetite centre in the brain?  Unless the appetite centre is satisfied, you don’t feel that you ate enough and will end up eating more than necessary.

Interestingly, warm foods satisfy the brain better than cold ones, and here is how they work.  With warm foods, digestive enzymes work better; the foods get digested faster; so then the glucose level rises in the blood faster too.  In addition, the overall blood circulation improves.  This means that the nutrients reach the brain fast, and the brain says, “I had enough and am satisfied.”

On the other hand, when a food at 4℃ enters the stomach, the blood gathers there and tries to warm it up until the temperature of the stomach and food goes up until 37℃, which is the deep body temperature. This reduces the blood circulation to the brain and muscles, leaving the brain not satisfied as not enough nutrients are being carried by the blood there.  So, the brain continuously orders you to eat more.

Furthermore, cold foods dull our sense of taste and this leads to the unsatisfied appetite centre in the brain.  However, when cold foods/drinks contain a great amount of sugars, the brain can be satisfied sensing a higher level of glucose in the blood.  You probably had an experience of drinking a cold coke, but cannot drink a coke at room temperature because you find it too sweet.  Manufactures of such soft drinks put loads of sugars or other sweeteners in the drinks so that they taste good when they are cold.

New Craving for Ice-cream and Cancer
Another example of an illness making you crave a certain food is cancer, says Dr. Tei.  Cancer cells thrive on 3 ~ 8 times more amounts of sugar than normal cells.  In addition, because the cancer cell activities are aggressive, they tend to get overheated.  Therefore, cancer cells favour something cold to cool the heat.

Sudden or recent change in cravings for something sweet and/or sweet & cold, such as an ice-cream, may indicate cancer, says Dr. Tei.  Kampo doctors have been advising to avoid sweets to cancer patients all along.  Now the western medicine also shares the common understanding that cancer cells crave sweets.

Just remember that there is a profound relationship between foods and illnesses.  In particular, any sudden or recent changes in your food craving may indicate an illness.

Here is a chart showing how West and East view food cravings. (click here)




Reference: Dr. Munetetsu Tei: “Train Your Intestines To Lose Weight And Become Healthy!” (in Japanese). Shufunotomo, 2011. 

Summer Heat Weariness, 夏バテ – No. 5 of the Series

Cool lemonade on a hot summer day

Cool lemonade on a hot summer day

Summer is here.  Even in London the temperature hit 36℃ one day, which was a record high in the last 10 years.  It makes you want to reach something cold like ice cream, cold drinks & juices, and chilled foods.  If this continues for weeks and months, you may develop a condition called Summer Heat Weariness or Natsu Bate in Japanese.

Before refrigerators and air conditioners, Natsu Bate used to imply “losing body weight due to summer heat”.  That was because in the summer, foods went bad more quickly without refrigeration; the working environment was poor without air conditioning, and energy consumption went up due to raised metabolic rate with the heat.  So people developed summer heat weariness or Natsu Bate and lost some body weights.

Modern Natsu Bate, however, seems to have presented us with a quite different picture, possibly like this.  When it gets hot, you tend to go for something sweet and cold, like chilled fruit juice, which does not require intestinal digestive activities.  Because it is hot, you seek for air-conditioned rooms, but obviously have to go back and forth between these cool rooms and outdoor hot spaces quite a few times a day.  Our body’s autonomic nervous system is forced to make adjustments of its functions according to the temperature changes all throughout the day.  Making excessive adjustments is a great stress for the autonomic nervous system.

Here is an interesting experiment that Dr. Tei (2011) conducted (p71).  A mouse was made to travel between a refrigerator and a room with a room temperature 5 times a day.   The finding was that the most damaged part of the body was the mouse’s intestines.  The mucous membrane of the intestines got thinner, and undigested foods were found in the mouse’s faces.  This suggests that the great stress is placed on the intestines with just five trips a day between the hot and cold places for the mice and therefore, you need to take a good care of the intestines even more in the summer.

If we repeat with Hot & Cold environments, internal Cold (from cold drinks & foods) and excessive amount of sugar intake, not only the autonomic nervous system weakens further; but also our digestion and/or whole body goes out of balance.  This leads to weariness, poor appetite, but also possible weight gain.  If your body weight goes up by 2 ~ 3 kg a day, often the water metabolism is not working well and it leaves you with bloatedness, swelling and/or a heavy feeling.  This is modern Natsu Bate, and far from losing weight.

Furthermore, because of the “Cold” in our body although it is hot outside, women may experience irregular menstrual cycles and/or menstrual disturbances.  Kampo doctors say that women’s abdomen and lower back at around the navel level should be warm for good female health.  Others may experience an inability to focus on things, and could catch colds more easily in the summer, and other conditions associated with lowered immunity.  You become weak, but the body weight goes up – this seems to be a classic modern Natsu Bate.

The way to sail through the hot summer and stay away from modern Natsu Bate is avoiding cold drinks & foods and sweet drinks & foods as much as you can.  Needless to say, hydration is important.  Why not try hot herbal teas and water at a room temperature.  They would be kinder to your body.  Cooked foods are better than chilled foods for the intestines too.

Also do appropriate exercises according to your Sho and find a way to sweat out once a day.  In this way, you keep your good metabolism going strong.

Enjoy your summer!



Reference: Dr. Munetetsu Tei: “Train Your Intestines To Lose Weight And Become Healthy!” (in Japanese). Shufunotomo, 2011. 

Dieting Programmes That Train Your Intestines – No. 4 of the series

(This is for a purpose of guidance only and does not replace any medical treatments or diagnosis.  If you have any health concerns, consult your doctor.)

Let’s look at more closely dieting programmes done in the Kampo way, as there are important basics that both Jitsu Sho and Kyo Sho should follow. 

(Note: to find out your Sho, see No. 2 of the series: Are You Jitsu Sho or Kyo Sho?? … and does it matter?)

By knowing your Sho and following a suitable program for it; you will train your intestines, lose weight and become more healthy.  (see No. 1 of the series: Your Intestines Need Training Too!)

1) SIX Basics:

Basics 1: A goal is to reach “your best body weight” at around age 20.
An ideal body weight calculated based on your height or in a similar way is not a good idea, as two people with the same height may not be in the same Sho.  In case you were overweight at around age 20, it is best to consult with a medical doctor and a Kampo doctor/a Kampo herbalist to evaluate your target weight.

Schoko Muffin

No Muffins & Cafe Latte Please!!!

Basics 2: Avoid sugars so a fat metabolising system gets turned on.
To lose the body weight, you will need to target burning the accumulated fats for a source of the energy that you need, and that means that it is important to reduce the energy intake.  In order to achieve this, avoid any sweets, other sugary foods, and drinks including honey, fruits, and dark sugar, so your fat metabolising system gets induced. (more on sugars in a later blog.)

It may take 2 ~ 3 weeks for this to happen depending on each person.  However, losing the body weight gets easy if you can follow this through in the first few weeks.

Basics 3: It is not about the size of the meals but your body weight that counts.
Calorie calculations are not necessary.  You don’t need to decide the size of the meals but need to eat in a way that your body weight is less in the following day.  For example, you may wonder at one point while dieting, why your body weight doesn’t go down even if you are cutting down on sugars and carbohydrates.  Do check if you are eating a decent quantity of everything else as before. (e.g. You should not double the portion of chicken because you cut down on potatoes.)

Basics 4: Follow a rule for your Sho.
For Kyo Sho: if you overeat on one day, do the energy consumption adjustment within a day or two by doing some extra exercises and eating slightly less quantity of meals.  In general, Kyo Sho is good at doing things at a steady pace, and more importantly their lungs and heart may not be as strong to handle vigorous cardiovascular exercises in one go.

For Jitsu Sho: think one week as a unit.  If you overeat during a week, do the energy consumption adjustment during the weekend and following week the latest, making sure to do extra cardiovascular exercises to keep your body weight on track.  In general, Jitsu Sho is spontaneous and likes to do things with a full power.  So they like to eat a lot too, and more importantly their lungs and heart are strong to handle an extra amount of vigorous exercise.  

Basics 5: Choose dietary fibre rich foods suitable for your Sho.
While you are dieting, the quantity of your meals will be reduced and inevitably the amount of the intestinal exercises you will get is less as well, and this may weaken your intestines.  Therefore, it is important to eat fibre rich and voluminous foods which help prevent constipation and keep your appetite at bay.

In the Kampo way, appreciating and understanding the energetics of the food are important.  They are divided into three categories; warming, neutral and cooling.  For Kyo Sho, try to eat warming and neutral food, avoiding cooling ones because Kyo Sho’s metabolism is not as strong.  Jitsu Sho can handle cooling food as well as warming ones.  However, avoid eating lots of raw foods, and cooking the food should be the fundamental principle.

Here is a chart showing some examples of the food divided into three categories.


Yoga – Triangle Pose Good for Kyo Sho

Basics 6: Do exercises to consume the melted fats in the blood
By following the basics above, you will create such a mechanism to “burn” accumulated subcutaneous fats.  This actually means that the fats will melt into the blood streams, which could cause an abnormal amount of fats in the blood.  In order to prevent this condition developing and lose the body weight smoothly, it is absolutely necessary to consume the melted fats in the blood by doing the (structural) muscular exercises.

– For Kyo Sho and the elderly, the basic rule is to do light exercises everyday, which suit Kyo Sho, to improve and keep metabolism going.  Singing can be a good choice too!  It is not about how much or how long you do exercises, do enough until you sweat lightly.  As you will see in the program for Kyo Sho below, it is designed to lose the body weight more gently spending a longer period of time.  One of the reasons is that vigorous exercises are not suitable for Kyo Sho, but they still need to metabolise the melted fats in the blood. 

Senior Couple Running In The Woods

Jogging Good for Jitsu Sho

– For Jitsu Sho, do good cardiovascular exercises until you sweat a lot every other day to burn the fats.


2) FIVE Points About “Food”:

1. Eat your 3 meals at around the same times everyday
If you eat your meals at more less at the same times everyday, digestion and absorption will be smooth without straining your internal organs, particularly the Spleen, and the autonomic nervous system will function better.  These are the must-have conditions to create an easy-to-lose-weight body constitution.

2. No Snacks!
Snacks between meals and snacks late at night are big enemies for dieting.  If you feel like nibbling something, sip non caffeinated tea, such as Hoji Cha.  It sounds boring, but you will be able to enjoy a variety of non caffeinated teas if you just give them a try.

Marinated cabbage (sauerkraut) in glass jar

Sauerkraut – Fermented Food

3. Enough vitamins?
In order to burn fats, a variety of vitamins are necessary.  Rather than eating loads of fruits possibly containing lots of fructose (sugars) and some sweet vegetables, which lack of natural vitamins nowadays anyway, try eating more fermented vegetables, such as Sauerkraut or Kimchee (a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings).  Microorganism in the vegetables grows using sugars from the vegetables and make great nutrients including various vitamins.  Just watch out for the amount of salt used in the pickled/fermented vegetables!


Korean Kimchee – Fermented Food

4. Warm/Hot foods satisfy your brain
Warm/hot foods not only help raise the metabolism but also satisfy the brain better than cold foods so you feel less hungry.

5. No constipation please!
As you eat a less amount of foods, you may develop constipation.  Make sure to eat fibre rich foods and do regular exercises.  If you get constipated, you may want to keep suitable Kampo or plant base laxatives handy at home.

Take a look at these easy-to-follow practical dieting programmes designed for Kyo Sho and Jitsu Sho.  Your main aim may be to lose the body weight, but by training and strengthening your intestines you also become more healthy.  

Remember, “Scientists now know that the intestines’ roles are much greater than previously thought, and well beyond just absorbing nutrients in and excreting wastes out.  The majority of the immune cells gather in the intestines, and many of the hormones and neurotransmitters exist there as well.”

Cheers to happy intestines!


Reference: Dr. Munetetsu Tei: “Train Your Intestines To Lose Weight And Become Healthy!“. Shufunotomo-sha, 2011.

Is Your Dieting Method Working For You? – No. 3 of the series

feet on a bathroom scale - isolated

Dieting Methods

The basis of losing weight is “Don’t eat more than you use up.”  This is true, because if you are not consuming the energy you take from foods, the excess energy is accumulated on/in the body as fat.  Theoretically, if you want to lose weight, you just do the opposite.  

The reality of losing weight is not solved by such a simple prescription of, “Don’t eat more than you use up.”  Many people who try to lose weight often don’t succeed and are in a constant search for better dieting methods.  That’s why you see new ones come along all the time.  Then, why don’t those dieting methods work as you would expect?  Is it all to do with a lack of discipline?  

In common dieting methods, two important points are missing from a Kampo point of view.

Point 1:  As discussed in No.1 of the series: Your Intestines Need Training Too!, you would need to understand the relationship between the weakened intestines and being overweight in order to lose weight (and especially in the right way).

Point 2: You need to know your conformation, Jitsu Sho or Kyo Sho, as mentioned in No. 2of the seires: Are you Jitsu Sho or Kyo Sho?…and does it matter?.  Someone famous succeeded in losing weight with one dieting method doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you too.  If that particular method isn’t suitable for your conformation, that diet could even damage your overall health. 

Let’s take a look at some common dieting methods!



1) Fasting or a replacing dieting method – for Jitsu Sho
These methods are about limiting the energy intake by either not eating anything or replacing regular meals with low energy foods for a certain period of time.  e.g. Morning banana diet, Cabbage diet, Fasting, etc.

Effects on the intestines:

  • The intestines don’t get to work and become weak because no foods/not enough foods come in.  There is even a possibility of the intestinal (muscular) walls thinning.
  • Also, if you are fasting, certain digestive fluids are still being produced in the stomach and intestines and these could damage the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines.  You have to drink a large amount of water to dilute the digestive fluids.
  • With such a large volume of water, you urinate well, but you also tend to get constipated as no foods are coming in.  You have to move the bowel even if you have to use laxatives.
  • When you are fasting, the balance of the intestinal bacteria changes.  Without any foods coming in with good bacteria, bad bacteria continues to grow, and the bad bacteria can then erode the intestinal walls and cause an infection.  
  • While fasting, your stools and farts become very smelly.  This is caused by overgrowth of the bad bacteria in the intestines and it is not that you are releasing toxins.

Other effects:

  • These methods are suitable for people of Jitsu Sho, and they can lose weight with these methods.  However, when they stop dieting/fasting, their appetite will be increased.  There will be a rebound effect (gaining the weight back).
  • While fasting, the accumulated fat is melted into the blood stream to produce more energy.  Jitsu Sho may be able to metabolise the fat in the blood while Kyo Sho may develop blood clots that could lead to serious diseases.
  • Fasting can put a burden on the intestines, and it is dangerous for Kyo Sho
Senior Couple Running In The Woods

Aerobic Exercise

2) Aerobic exercises methods – for Jitsu Sho

These methods aim to burn fat using aerobic exercises and to raise the fundamental metabolism.
e.g. Aerobic classes, Jogging, etc.

Effects on the intestines:

Because you move the body very actively, the intestines are also stimulated from the physical movements and their functions are promoted.

Other effects:

  • Hard aerobic exercises are obviously suitable for Jitsu Sho, who has a strong functioning of the heart and lungs.  
  • If you are Jitsu Sho, you can do aerobic exercises soon after the meals.  In this way, you use right away the energy you gained from the meals so the dieting effects are greater.
  • It will be hard for Kyo Sho to do aerobic exercises soon after the meals because functioning of the heart and lungs are weaker.  As eating is an “exercise”, if you start sending the blood towards the structural muscles, your digestion will be compromised, and you could develop an abdominal pain.

3) Metabolism enhancing methods – for Kyo Sho



Metabolism enhancing methods aim the effects of dieting by taking in ingredients that raise the body temperature, such as spices and carnitine, and enhancing the metabolism.  e.g. Chilli diet, Carnitine diet, Alpha-lipoic acid diet, Ginger diet, Morning curry diet, etc. 

Effects on the intestines:

  • Spices and active ingredients in these diets stimulate the intestines and promote their functions.
  • Your bowel movements get more regular; constipation will be relieved; and the stools will be nicely formed if you tend to have loose stools.

Other effects:

  • If certain spices and ingredients don’t suit you, you may develop a sore mouth, a nausea, or an abdominal pain.  It is important to observe your own responses as you introduce a new dieting method.
  • When the body temperature goes up by 1℃, the calorie consumption goes up by 1.7 times.  All the metabolic activities going inside the body are enzyme reactions.  When the body temperature goes up, the enzyme reactions are enhanced.
  • If you are Jitsu Sho, and your metabolism is already high to begin with,  then this dieting method may not be suitable and is not recommended as the method may make Jitsu Sho too hyper.  
Burning moxa

Acupuncture & Moxibustion

4) Balancing the body and internal organ methods – for Kyo Sho

Balancing the body and internal organ methods aim to promote overall health by working on the imbalance and weakness that are observed in the musculoskeletal system, internal organs and constitutions.  e.g. Ayurveda, Ear acupuncture dieting, Pelvis adjusting diet, Acupuncture & Moxibustion, etc.

Effects on the intestines:

  • These methods, such as acupuncture and ayurveda, recognise that there is an invisible system in the body.  By balancing and stimulating this system in their own way effectively, a parasympathetic nervous system is activated and hence the intestines become to function well.  

Other effects:

  • These methods are similar to Yoga in terms of focusing on raising your metabolism.  It takes time to see the benefits of the methods, but there are very little adverse effects so the methods are suitable for people with low metabolism, Kyo Sho, and the elderly.  
  • For example, if you are middle aged; have a lower back and/or knee problems; and gained weight.  Because you gained weight, the back and knees also become worse.  You get into a bad cycle like this.  These methods are gentle and address your imbalance step by step.  Eventually, you will be focusing on the functioning of the intestines with these methods.  

All the dieting methods have their merits and demerits.

The above is only a few examples.  Whatever the dieting method may be, there will be its merits and demerits rather than one method is good for all and the other is bad.  If your conformation happens to match with the dieting method that you chose, it could work well for you.  It is not just a good idea to buy into someone’s success story and simply follow the dieting method named after that person.  

A common message to both Jitsu and Kyo Shos is “Think of Your Intestines First.”  

You probably got an idea by now that it is necessary to choose a dieting method suitable for your conformation, Jitsu Sho or Kyo Sho to make it work.  However, the most important thing to think of, which is shared by both Jitsu and Kyo Shos is the functioning of the intestines.  

When the intestines function well, the energy consumption goes up; the blood circulation to the intestines enhances; and the metabolism also goes up.  The difference between Jitsu Sho and Kyo Sho is the way to approach how to make the intestines function well.

Focus on raising metabolism for Kyo Sho, and elimination & detoxification for Jitsu Sho

For Kyo Sho:

Because the important thing for Kyo Sho is to find the way to raise metabolism, you will give a priority to the quality not the quantity of foods.  Make sure to eat a good breakfast to prepare the functioning of the intestines for the day.  Eat three meals a day, and reduce the quantity of carbohydrates only at a supper time.

If you (Kyo Sho) reduces essential nutrients, for example by fasting, you could lose your physical strength rapidly and develop an illness.  Follow “The Diets That Train Your Intestines” for Kyo Sho (it will be introduced in details in a later blog.) to keep taking in a certain quantity of energy producing foods and to raise your metabolism.  Because it is particularly important to have good metabolism of water and hormones, suggested activities are breathing exercises and light exercises.  If Kyo Sho did a fasting type dieting and/or hard exercises, Kyo Sho would only lower its metabolism as hard exercises don’t help raise the metabolism.  Kyo Sho will find the fasting type method and tough exercises too hard to carry on.

For Jitsu Sho:

You will have to eat a certain quantity to satisfy your big appetite.  Therefore, you should eat a large amount of dietary fibre rich foods that will give you a volume, and they will promote elimination and detoxification.   Eat three meals a day but eliminate carbohydrates completely at a supper time.  

If you are Jitsu Sho and want to lose weight fast, you will be able to achieve it with a hard way by doing a good amount of aerobic exercises and reducing the quantity of meals.  The question is how to prevent a rebound from occurring.  Once you reach the targeted weight by doing the hard way like the above, switch to “The Diets That Train Your Intestines” for Jitsu Sho.  (it will be introduced in details in later blog.)

Tackle this modern illness, overweight, in a Kampo way!

In recent years, a number of Jitsu Sho with intestinal Kyo Sho has been on the rise.   At the same time, a number of Kyo Sho, who has eaten loads of sugary foods and become overweight, is increasing as well.  It is called a modern illness because ‘cold foods & drinks’ and ‘sugars’, which weren’t readily available a long time ago, are the causes of such ‘modern’ overweight.  

“The Diets That Train Your Intestines” (it will be introduced in details in later blog.) are based on an application of Kampo theories and thinking.  A Kampo way may be a ticket to a successful dieting and good health.

Remember that a weight gain isn’t always proportionate to the calories taken.  From a Kampo perspective, it is wrong to think that what you eat is all digested and absorbed.  The Kampo way recognises that the ability to digest foods and absorb the nutrients from them is different for each individual.  

Reference: Dr. Munetetsu Tei: “Train Your Intestines To Lose Weight And Become Healthy!“. Shufunotomo-sha, 2011.

Are You Jitsu Sho or Kyo Sho?? … and does it matter? – No. 2 of the series

Forme SantŽ

Jitsu Sho or Kyo Sho of the Intestines

It is important to understand the concept of a person’s overall conformation described by Jitsu Sho, Kyo Sho, or Chuyo, taking on board Dr. Tei’s ideas on the merits and demerits of various dieting methods.  A person’s conformation or Sho is also an important part of the essence of Kampo medicine.

First of all, Jitsu Sho means strong, full or excess; Kyo Sho means weak, empty or deficient; and Chuyo is in between the two.  The state of Chuyo is considered ideal in Kampo medicine, a balanced state.

The characteristics of Jitsu Sho?

If you are typical Jitsu sho, you have good physical strength, are highly motivated to take action, and are able to put a strong fight against illness.  You can work through the night without too much impact on you and also be very active on your days off.  For example, if you catch a cold, you may develop a high fever, but recover from it quickly.  However, you may not notice any signs and symptoms of illness or disease developing in you, and then end up with the disease far advanced by the time you see a doctor.  You both work and play hard, which could lead to a ‘short’ life. 

If you are Jitsu sho, you can drink and eat more than others, maybe enjoying a full course French meal including both fish and meat all in one go.

The characteristics of Kyo Sho?

If you are Kyo Sho, you are generally less strong physically and have a less energetic attitude towards action, and tend to tire easily.  If you start having a runny nose, you often run to a doctor without a delay.  There probably is no way you work through the night without the need of a total rest on the following day.  You tend to catch infectious diseases, such as colds and flus more often.  However, because you look after yourself well and avoid taxing your body, you could live a ‘longer’ life.

If you are Kyo Sho, you prefer to drink just a little, and usually at home.  Also, you would find a four course meal too much to enjoy and prefer if possible to eat fish on one day and meat on the next. 

Classifying these conformations is rather intuitive, and never fixed and definite.  The overall conformations can move and change depending on your physical conditions on a particular day or even the time of the day.  You have a tendency to belong to one or the other, and staying in the middle all the time is less likely.  

Here is a quick test to self-diagnose your own conformation.  (click here)

Here is an interesting insight: while you are overall Jitsu Sho, your intestines can be found to be Kyo Sho.  It means that you look strong, work hard, eat a lot and so on.  However at the same time, your intestines are weak with no muscular strength.  This is a big problem in today’s world.  Jitsu Sho or Kyo Sho of the intestines do not match up with your overall conformation.  Kyo Sho of the intestines could have an association with overweight & poor health.  

Here is another quick test to self-diagnose your intestinal conformation.  (click here)

So are you Jitsu Sho, Kyo Sho or Chuyo? ….and how about your intestines?

Reference: Dr. Munetetsu Tei: “Train Your Intestines To Lose Weight And Become Healthy!“. Shufunotomo-sha, 2011.

Your Intestines Need Training Too! – No. 1 of the series


Cooked, warm vegetables

Cooked, warm vegetables

From a Kampo point of view, the root cause of overweight and disease can come from your weakened intestines.  Without training the intestines, any dieting might never be a success.

Scientists now know that the intestines’ roles are much greater than previously thought, and beyond just absorbing nutrients in and excreting wastes out.  The majority of the immune cells gather in the intestines, and many of the hormones and neurotransmitters exist there as well.  Also, there is a close relationship between weakened intestines and overweight.

Why do your intestines become weak and what’s the link to being overweight?

The main reason for weakened intestines in today’s world is the change in lifestyle and diet.  Nowadays, you see all kinds of sweet foods, processed foods and chilled foods everywhere.  More people consume more of these, compared to say 40 years ago.  Sweet foods and processed foods contain ‘sugars’, ‘amino acids’, and ‘fatty acids’, which don’t require digestion as they are absorbed in the beginning part of the intestines.  So the intestines don’t get exercise and become lazy.  In addition, chilled foods slow the movements of the intestines too.

When the intestinal muscles are not exercised, they become weak; the blood circulation gets worse; and your metabolism is lowered.  With a lowered metabolism, you burn fewer calories and losing weight becomes far more difficult.

So, how do you train your intestines and keep a higher metabolism?

Believe or not the right EATING is the training for the intestines.  Here’s why!  The intestines are long and strong muscles (so called smooth muscles) and start moving (exercising) dynamically when the foods reach them.  Here is an interesting point: the daily energy consumption from the intestinal muscles’ exercises (movements) is far greater than body’s physical (so called structure muscles) movements.  The right foods exercise your intestines to burn more calories.

A key point to “successful dieting” and “health” is “to train your intestines”.

Here are 7 points to train the intestines:

  1. Eat a balanced diet at regular times.  You have heard of this before but it is difficult to do…  The worst case scenario to weaken the intestines is eating sweets and snacks instead of meals whenever you want.
  2. Eat dietary fibre rich foods.  It takes longer for dietary fibre rich foods to get digested, which means more training for the intestines.  Include abundant cooked, warm fibre rich vegetables in your diets.
  3. Warm foods and drinks invigorate the intestines.  Warm foods and drinks (at least at a room temperature) help invigorate the functions of the intestines, the blood circulation, activities of digestive enzymes and your immune system.
  4. Fermented foods improve the intestines’ functions.  In order to make the intestines work well, it is important to have bacterial flora (good and bad bacteria) balanced within the intestines.  By choosing more fermented foods containing yeasts and lactic acid bacteria, the intestines help fight off various diseases by keeping your immunity strong.
  5. Add more spices to your diets.  Smells and flavour of spices invigorate the digestive functions and increase metabolism too.  In addition to familiar spices, such as curry powder, cinnamon, and peppers; others, such as fresh ginger, garlic, wasabi, perilla leaves, green onions, and more, are great choices too.
  6. Chew well!  Balance of 5 flavours!  Chewing is one of the instinctive activities of human beings and can help prevent you from over eating.  Furthermore, chewing signals productions of saliva and other digestive fluids that help the stomach and intestines start working well.   Foods are largely divided into 5 flavours: sour, sweet, bitter, acrid/spicy and salty.  Also remember to include 5 colours of foods on a table: blue(green), red, yellow, white and black.  The point is to eat various kinds of food in balance and not in a hurry so that your intestines get their exercise.
  7. Good night sleeps keep the intestines function well.  The intestines’ functions are controlled by the parasympathetic (branch of the autonomic) nervous system, which becomes activated by relaxation and a good night sleep.  Also, it is very important that your stomach is empty when you go to bed.

Training the intestines is the best method for dieting and becoming more healthy.  When the intestines work well, the blood circulation gets better, and the metabolism goes up.  As a result, energy consumption goes up too.


Reference: Dr. Munetetsu Tei: “Train Your Intestines To Lose Weight And Become Healthy!”. Shufunotomo-sha, 2011.

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