Chinese Food Energetics

The Sunshine Award


I was awarded The Sunshine Award last week! But what is this you may ask?! The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere! Amazingly humbled to receive this “award of the people”!




As with all the greatest things, with honour comes responsibility, there are rules to being nominated and things I now have to do! The rules of the Sunshine Award are as follows:

Thank the person who gave you the award; write a post about it; answer the questions below; then nominate ten other bloggers, link their blogs, and let them know you have awarded them with the Sunshine Award!

So, THANK YOU Maisie Villegas – my very new, but already very dear friend; a doula extraordinaire, student acupuncturist, fellow paediatric diploma student, and big lover of tea and cake! As she mentioned in her own Sunshine Award blog, when nominating this blog, we do practice very different styles of acupuncture – my Five Element and TCM integrated approach, always gives us something to talk about, bringing a slightly different viewpoint to the same issue… plus, I can talk about Chinese Medicine ALL DAY, so it is always great to find someone new to do that with!

Favourite Colour: Green – fresh, calming and about life and growth… the colour of the Wood Element in Chinese Medicine, and of course, my leaf logo!

Favourite Animal: Birds – they have a magic all of their own, graceful and beautiful.

Favourite Number: 7, it is very me.

Favourite Non-Alcoholic Drink: Tea – in Chinese food energetics, black tea is bitter & sweet, which benefits the Heart & Stomach – this is why you feel so calm & contented when you have a good cuppa! Green tea has a more cooling energy & it moves Qi, which makes it a great stress buster!

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook definitely – good for more photos, but more importantly you can write much much more! I am a huge rambler – yes, you knew that already I’m sure! – and need more room to express myself! The 140 characters is always a HUGE challenge!

My Passion: Acupuncture, Chinese medicine, holistic health, emotions, Five Elements, Chinese food energetics… living life slightly differently, with huge benefits and rewards on many levels.

Getting or Giving Presents: Giving presents – especially those you put tons of thought into, the really unusual, quirky, poignant and personal ones.

Favourite Pattern: I do like the Orla Kiely leaf pattern, but then I do have a penchant for leaves! It is a lovely mixture of 70s retro (which I adore!), with a modern twist.

Favourite Day of the Week: Sunday – love waking up late (topping up that yin!), watching “Something for the Weekend” (though next week I will be switching over to “Sunday Brunch” on Channel 4!), having a walk in the village, having a cuppa or a bite to eat in the local cafe, roast with the family… easy sunday things 🙂

Favourite Flower: Sunflowers or gerberas – the bright yellow makes me smile, and they kind of look like they have little faces! They bring cheer to a room, and I love giving them as presents, it’s like giving a bunch of joy!

The following are my nominations for handing over the baton for The Sunshine Award:

Intelligent Running – let’s get one thing straight, I am NOT a runner, I don’t do running… but I do enjoy George’s blog for his boundless enthusiasm and positivity for health, nutrition, living well, and of course, running! His example (business wise and personally) keeps me striving to be better! And I wish I had his energy, incredible!!

Emma Martin: Mission to Motherhood – fabulously honest and funny blog about my Bournemouth uni buddy’s journey into motherhood. The challenges of being a working mummy, learning as a family at every stage, astute reflections on being with her beautiful boy Phoenix. It’s a joy to read.

Little Mountain Homeopathy – as part of the paediatrics diploma I am doing this year, I am learning more about homeopathy and how it can slot in very nicely alongside acupuncture in the natural treatment of children. This blog has some very good information set out in a very accessible way.

Polly’s Path – a blog that follows Polly’s journey to heal herself of cancer naturally. There are raw recipes, inspiration on how to live a life you love, anecdotal accounts of her journey thus far… she always has something positive to share!

The Pink Peril – my childhood friend Rachel is running the London marathon for the first time! The blog traces her steps from novice to expert, ready for 22nd April, with a lovely dose of humour and reality! She is raising money for The Outward Bound Trust, a cause close to her heart.

Integrative Nutrition Blog – I LOVE this blog, a mixture of recipes, healthy tips, lifestyle advice… they advocate nutrition on all levels, what you eat, what you think, what you study, what you do… just excellent.

On the Road with the Urban Psychic – my good friend Amy Holland is a fabulously talented medium, as well as being a highly qualified psychotherapist and healer. This blog follows the adventures in the “psychic bus” that locals will recognise driving around Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire!

Raymond Blanc – a local celebrity around these parts, and I have been lucky enough to meet the funny, passionate chef – he even winked at me! And the food at Le Manoir is just beautiful. You can hear him talking through his blog (and his twitter feed!), and it always makes me laugh, even if its not always meant to!

MindBodyGreen – a collection of blog posts from a variety of authors on yoga and wellness. I love dipping in and out of these writings, there is always something that is applicable to your day, invoking self-reflection, growth, and development.

Build Your Dream Practice – Kevin Doherty has a whole host of great tips and tricks for marketing your alternative practice… great if you’re new to social media and general marketing strategies, or if you’re an old hand like me, it just keeps you on track!


© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

Visit the website

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter


Question Time


No, I’m not the Prime Minister (though there is a fair few things I would like to bring in health and wellbeing wise if I was the Prime Minister – see below!) and I’m not appearing next to David Dimbleby… but I was asked a handful of questions by the local newspaper last month, in an article they called “It’s my Dream Job Being an Acupuncturist” (click link to read it)…

The additional few questions that they asked me, but weren’t printed can be seen below… tons of healthy tips, thoughts and tricks that I have in my day to day life – enjoy!


If you could pass one new law tomorrow, what would it be and why?

That it would be compulsory for everyone to fulfill a quota of holistic health requirements each year, a wellbeing CPD of sorts! Accessible and obligatory counseling, acupuncture, massage, dietary advice, or exercise classes, would add up to a much higher level of wellness in the wider population.


If you were stuck on Death Row, what would you pick for your final meal?

Sushi from Funki Sushi in Bournemouth, where I went to university the first time round! The balance of fish (raw and cooked), with vegetables, seaweed and rice really suits my system.


Websites you use or value the most?

I’m on my own website ( and blog daily, but I’m often also on, which is a great site about meditation, yoga and holistic health. is another super positive online magazine that has words of wisdom on everything from healthy living, to fashion, beauty and business – I get a daily dose of motivation here!


Favourite places to eat within 20 miles of Thame?

The Thatch in Thame is a favourite haunt – the superfood salad (spinach, beetroot, tuna & pumpkin seeds) on their Winter menu was delicious! Amazingly blood nourishing according to Chinese Food Energetics (or dietary therapy), plus a boost of zinc from the pumpkin seeds! Truly super indeed!

I also like a healthy cuppa in Time Out, Thame with their excellent range of Teapigs – from regular black tea, through to green and rooibush (even a Crème Caramel Rooibush which I think tastes like apple crumble – all the taste and none of the naughtiness!), and the vegan, raw wholefood, no refined sugar, no wheat, non-dairy, gluten free Nakd bars make it easier to “go out for tea” and still be healthy!

For a homemade sweet treat whilst relaxing with friends or family, I head to Little Italy in Haddenham. Incredibly friendly and a beautiful energy, a home away from home – they even know my order of earl grey before I get to the counter!


Have you got a favourite shop within 20 miles of  Thame town centre? Why is it so good?

I love Planet Health in Greyhound Walk. I would live in there if I could – a fresh juice bar, all the vitamins, supplements and tonics to support your body and emotions, plus a vast array of fabulous foodstuffs. From Pukka Tea, rice milk and almond nut butter, to the seeds, chickpea flour and flaxseed I bake my healthy breakfast muffins or pancakes with. We are really blessed to have such an Aladdin’s cave of health in Thame.


What’s your best kept entertainment or social life secret, or guilty pleasure? Tell us about it…

I love watching Quincy in all its faded 70s glory! I’m not very good at doing nothing or stopping working, so figuring out who did what and how, provides enough mental stimulus for my brain to tick over and not get restless, whilst resting my body. It’s all about conserving the quiet, calm, and nourishing Yin energy!


© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

Visit the website

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter


Allergy or Intolerance?


This week (23rd – 29th January 2012) has been Food Allergy & Intolerance Week. Full blown allergies have strong reactions, big angry red rashes, massive vomiting, swellings or even anaphylactic shock, requiring doses of adrenaline via an epi-pen, or even hospital admittance. You can read some stories on via Allergy UK, that show the physical, social and psychological impact these types of allergies can have on people, and the importance of highlighting this awareness week.

Thankfully, there aren’t many of us that have food causing such a violent impact on us, but we can recognise less intense intolerances to food on a daily basis. This may come in the very basic inkling of a certain food “not being good for us” – despite us liking or craving it! And even with intolerances, it can be tricky to find suitable foods when on-the-go

For me, as you will know by now, it is dairy that I know I must avoid – but with it being an intolerance, rather than a full-blown allergy, I may occasionally allow myself to have cheesecake for pudding if eating out… I just know I will suffer later feeling tired and heavy, with a blocked nose, slight nausea, and a muzzy or full head – unable to think clearly. I love dairy, but it really hates me!

And this is where acupuncture is not only all about the needles! During a treatment, we question around food, drink, diet and digestion (amongst all the other things like sleep, energy levels and mood) so that we can pick up on small cues that might be telling us our patients have intolerances to certain things, and how that fits in to their overall health picture, or lack thereof – it may be that an intolerance is playing into the issue that a patient is seeking help with.

We view these intolerances in terms of Chinese Food Energetics, i.e. whether the food is energetically hot or cold (not just the actual physical temperature of food), blood nourishing or Damp-forming etc. Many food intolerances that we acupuncturists see in the treatment room are to do with the Damp-forming group of foods, though not all are. For example, migraine sufferers may be intolerant to oranges as they are too yang and heating energetics wise, sending heat up to the head, triggering a migraine.

Damp-forming foods include dairy, wheat, sugar, bananas, orange or tomato juice, peanuts and yeast. These foods are the ones that cause a build up of mucus or phlegm in the body – think about when you eat peanut butter, it sticks to the roof of your mouth, glues your mouth together (particularly on bread – another Damp food!) and leaves a residue on your tongue afterwards.

That claggy, sticky, dense feeling of peanut butter, is exactly what these Damp-forming foods are doing inside your body – clogging things up, making things heavy and sticky. This can cause, or perpetuate conditions like sinusitis, headaches, snoring, chronic fatigue (or exhaustion), eczema, asthma, and even being overweight (or struggling to shift those pounds you want to shed). In children, it can particularly cause chronic cough and repeated ear infections.

In the treatment room, we don’t just give you a list of foods you “must not eat” – Chinese Food Energetics allows us to understand the energetic changes that go on in our bodies when we eat certain foods. This kind of understanding and information helps educate and empower our patients about what dietary changes might be beneficial to them, to what degree, and how strict they have to be.

More often than not, the proof is in the pudding (that should be a wheat, yeast, sugar and dairy free pudding!), patients come back knowing their bodies feel different! And more importantly, upon eating the food that they are “intolerant” to, they have a recurrence of symptoms that they can see for themselves. It’s like their very own scientific study! It really shows that simple dietary changes can have a significant impact on your health.

If you suspect your diet is giving you unwanted symptoms, or adding to an illness or condition you’re struggling with, email me at or visit to see how acupuncture or a nutritional analysis according to Chinese Medicine, could help you.


© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

Visit the website

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter


Chinese Food Energetics


Chinese Food Energetics is another way of looking at food and nutrition, and formulating an eating plan or diet that is most suited to us. Just as acupuncture itself is tailored specifically for that one individual patient – and no two patients are exactly the same, no matter how similar they appear to be – Chinese Food Energetics creates guidelines or dietary advice to suit that one specific individial patient too.

For example, some patients can eat dairy literally until the cows come home (pun absolutely, utterly intended!), and another person (like me!) only has to look at a piece of cheese and the nose, sinuses and throat start to fill with mucus or phlegm. This is because dairy is a “damp-forming” food, and some patients are more susceptible to the formation of damp, due to the deficiencies or imbalances that are present in their system.

The “energetics” of food is different to the energetic calories present in food, it is not about the amount of energy available in a nutritional or chemical sense – it is about the affect the food has on the energy or Qi in our bodies. Food is described in Chinese Medicine as having certain qualities – temperatures (hot, warm, neutral, cool or cold), flavours that link in with the Five Elements (salty, sour, bitter, sweet or pungent), routes into the body (the organs it affects most), and actions (moves Qi, resolves phlegm, nourishes blood etc).

When we speak about the temperature of a food, it is not the temperature of it in the mouth i.e boiling hot soup vs freezing cold ice cream, it is the “energetic temperature”, the affect it will have on the body once it has been digested. For example, apples are energetically cool, and pears are energetically cold – so pears are energetically colder than apples, despite them feeling the same temperature to touch on the skin when you hold them in your hands. Furthermore, a red apple is energetically warmer than a green apple! Again they both feel exactly the same to touch on the outside skin, but energetically the temperature is slightly different… but as they are both apples, they are still both warmer than the cold pear – you still with me?! Let’s do a little more explaining…

Energetically hot foods warm us up internally, so a slice of ginger root even if eaten raw, cooked or not cooked, at room temperature or straight from the fridge, will always bring heat into the body when digested. Another example is courgette, which is cool in temperature (foods that contain a lot of water content are often cooler in energetic makeup), will always cool the body internally whether you eat it raw and shredded in a salad during Summer, or cooked in the Winter as part of a stew or ratatouille. We can go further in that the raw one would be more cooling than the one that is cooked, as there is some influence on the energetic temperature of food by the method of cooking, but the cooked one would still be cooling energetics wise. So as to not confuse things too much, more exploration of that can be saved for another post!

And on the actual physical temperature of food, please never eat things straight out of the fridge! Energetically cold food, eaten physically cold, is a double whammy of cold – the digestive system struggles with this. The Stomach is like a cauldron that is warm, bubbling away, digesting everything that goes in. Its job is to get the best goodness out of the food, and it is that job it should be expending its energy on.

However, when physically cold food (actual temperature wise) hits the warm juices in the Stomach, it brings down the temperature of the bubbling cauldron. So the Stomach therefore has to invest all of its energy into bringing the cauldron back up to optimum temperature for digestion, which means it overworks, doesn’t digest effectively, and in the longterm can become very depleted – leading to symptoms like tiredness in the morning, loose stools, undigested food in the stools, discomfort in the epigastrium (just below the rib cage, in the middle). Always bring food up to room temperature so the Stomach and Spleen don’t have to work as hard to digest it, plus you get more nutrients and more energy as a result!

Food as medicine can be incorporated into your treatment plan, to compliment the acupuncture prescribed. Each food has a particular flavour which pertains to one of the Five Elements. For example, the salty flavour belongs to the Water Element and enters its organ – the Kidney; so a little salt will benefit that organ, but too much will inhibit its action. And as mentioned earlier, eating dairy (and/or sugar, wheat, bananas, peanuts and fried foods) will make a phlegmy condition, such as sinusitis or cough, worse; consuming bitter (Fire Element) or pungent (Metal Element) flavours – onions, mustard, olives or green tea – will help clear the mucus. Chinese Food Energetics dietary advice can contribute towards a more effective overall treatment plan.

If you feel you could benefit from some dietary advice based in Chinese Medicine, email me on or visit the “Acupuncture Plus” page on the website for more details.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

Goodness on the Go…


On my travels last week, on holiday away from the clinic, I spent quite a lot of time in various train stations – Southampton Airport, Southampton Central, Marylebone, Victoria, Charing Cross to name but a few… And I may be biased as it is my “home station” but Oxford always comes out on top with the choice of good nourishment available to hop on the train with…
Vitaburst at Oxford Railway Station always makes me smile – a place so healthy and in sync with the way I try to live my life, that I sometimes pop there even if I’m just shopping in town and not travelling on the train!

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good almond croissant or pain au raisin once in a while as a treat – just not every day, and I certainly don’t want to be forced into having to choose something of that ilk purely because I’m held to ransom by the train station highwayman, en route to somewhere else. The fact that I can choose a juice or smoothie that I would make myself at home (no additives or refined sugar etc), or pick up something else delicious and healthy like a Nakd bar (cold-pressed raw food with no dairy, wheat, gluten or added/refined sugar) makes me feel REALLY good… I can arrive at my destination feeling full of energy, totally guilt free, with no crazy peaks or troughs in sugar levels to contend with later in the day – I can just get on and enjoy gorgeous time with wonderful friends! Plus, everything is super scrummy – no “yucky” health foods here, all yum!

My favourite drink to pick up from this fabulous Oxfordshire couple, is a beetroot, celery, carrot, apple & ginger juice – full of anti-oxidants, vitamins & goodness for cells in the body… beetroot is neutral and sweet in Chinese Food Energetics, it nourishes blood by entering the Heart & Liver, encourages Qi (energy) circulation and counteracts cold – which makes it perfect for this chilly time of year, and additionally balances out the other energetically cooler ingredients in the juice – celery and apple… the ginger also helps this, as it is energetically hot and counteracts cold and phlegm, making it a must-add for juices in the winter.

Though a word of caution for people who are energetically hot in themselves, or have a relative deficiency of Yin (the cooling, moisturising, nourishing energy in the body), as too much ginger (or any other energetically hot foods such as chilli or garlic) will cause you to become too hot – creating more hot flushes, migraines, disturbed sleep or difficulty falling asleep…

I also opt to add an extra shot of spirulina (blue-green algae) to the juice for extra blood nourishment – in terms of Chinese Food Energetics, it is cool in temperature, has a slightly salty flavour and goes to the Liver. It boosts Blood, Yin and Jing (the innate essence and energy reserves we are born with), and regulates removal of toxins from the body.

In conventional medicine spirulina is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids, antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage. It contains nutrients, including B complex vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and essential fatty acids. Everyone can benefit from adding more blue-green algaes to their diet (chlorella is another good example), but particularly women with heavy periods, vegetarians, vegans or those who don’t eat much meat, and people with a high amount of stress could also benefit – see the download section of the website for the relevant info sheets.

And next time you’re travelling somewhere, look out for ways you can get more goodness on the go – if you’re going via Oxford railway station, lucky you – visit vitaburst and tell them Rhiannon sent you!

If you want more information about Chinese Food Energetics, or how Chinese Medicine theory could improve your health and lifestyle, email me at or visit

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011