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The Chinese Medicine Guide to Intermittent Fasting


Intermittent fasting has gained popularity in the recent years, but fasting is a cultural practice that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. This article covers Chinese Medicine’s view on intermittent fasting, its benefits and how it works. 


Intermittent Fasting: What is It and How Does It Work?

Intermittent fasting is not necessarily a diet but rather an eating pattern. It is the practice of only eating within a window of time that typically ranges from 8 to 12 hours, then fasting for the rest. It has been shown to help with weight loss and reduce inflammation. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine View on Intermittent Fasting

Traditional Chinese Medicine, in short, supports fasting. 

TCM, short for Traditional Chinese Medicine, follows the meridian clock. This clock abides by the notion that different organs in the body function best at specific hours. To optimize the body’s functioning, meals, rest, and activities should be planned according to the meridian clock. 

In addition, according to this model, the digestive system functions best in the morning and requires time to rest and recover at night. Therefore, intermittent fasting is in alignment with the tenets of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

However, while Traditional Chinese Medicine supports eating only during daylight hours, there is nothing in TCM that supports skipping breakfast. If a meal had to be skipped, dinner would most likely be recommended because of its proximity to bedtime. 

Nevertheless, TCM and the meridian clock emphasize that the body functions best when on a regulated schedule. Therefore, maintaining a regular eating schedule would be considered more beneficial than fasting for long periods of time, according to TCM. 

Who Is Intermittent Fasting Suitable For? 

Because fasting has been linked to reduced inflammation, fasting can be beneficial to those with chronic disorders. This is because many chronic disorders are triggered by inflammation. Therefore, reducing inflammation can alleviate the symptoms associated with a chronic disorder. 

In addition, fasting can aid in weight loss and therefore prevent the onset of diabetes and heart disease. 

However, the best way to determine if fasting is right for you is by talking to a healthcare professional. 

Who Is Not Suited For Intermittent Fasting? 

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. In fact, intermittent fasting affects women differently than men. 

Fasting can disrupt blood sugar levels and hormonal levels in women. Due to this, it is not recommended for women to do intermittent fasting throughout their reproductive years. This is especially true if a woman is trying to conceive, is pregnant, or is breastfeeding. 

In addition, intermittent fasting is not recommended for anyone who has a hormonal disorder, as it can further exacerbate hormonal imbalances. Fasting is also not recommended for those with a history of disordered eating, as it may endorse restrictive eating habits. 

From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, all eating should be focused on nourishing the body so that it can function at its best. Therefore, if fasting prevents one’s body from obtaining the nourishment that is necessary for optimal functioning, on should opt for a consistent, nutrient-dense diet instead. 

For women who are interested in fasting, it is recommended that you try a moderated version. For instance, fasting for 12 to 14 hours may be a better time range for women. This allows time for the digestive system to recover at night without putting too much stress on the body. 

Fasting and Fertility 

Fasting, while it has benefits, can put stress on the body. This is because fasting is essentially a shortage of food, and this shortage can provoke an emergency response in the body. When the body thinks it is in danger, it produces cortisol, a stress hormone that can hinder the production of sex hormones such as progesterone and estrogen.  If the stress reaches an unhealthy level, it could disrupt one’s hormonal balance and cause fertility issues. Therefore, intermittent fasting is not generally recommended for women trying to conceive. 

On the other hand, studies suggest that intermittent fasting may be beneficial for supporting fertility in women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). This is because PCOS is linked to weight gain and obesity, which can cause fertility issues. Intermittent fasting, for that reason, might help with weight-related infertility. 

If a woman who is trying to conceive still wants to try intermittent fasting, it is recommended to choose a gentler fasting time frame, like 12 to 14 hours

Fasting With Tea Herbs 

If you want to try intermittent fasting, but tea is a part of your nightly routine, there is no need for concern. Drinking a cup of tea before bed will not break your nightly fast. However, this is only as long as your blood sugar remains stable. To ensure this, it is important not to add any sweeteners, sugar, or cream to the tea. In addition, if you notice any changes in blood sugar, after drinking tea, such as shakiness, fatigue, or dizziness, it is important to break your fast and eat. 

Conclusion: Is Intermittent Fasting Right For You?

For many people, intermittent fasting is a great way to manage weight and live a healthier lifestyle. It is supported by Traditional Chinese Medicine and has an array of health benefits. 

However, it is not for everyone. Intermittent fasting is not recommended for people with hormonal disorders and women who are trying to conceive, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding. 

If you want to try intermittent fasting, it is recommended that you consult a healthcare professional. In addition, you may want to consider getting lab testing done to ensure that you are getting all of your required nutrients and that fasting will not cause any serious issues. 

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our consultation page where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.

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