Five Transformations of Taste

The five transformations (elements) system of the ancient Chinese served as an aid for understanding the limitless correspondences that pervade every facet of life. In the six divisions in the six influences we discover simple yet effective patterns that describe the constitution the condition of an individual.

Pungent (Including acrid, Spicy, hot, and aromatic flavors)

Properties: A yang flavor: expansive, dispersive: when the pungent flavor has a warming energy it stimulates circulation of energy and blood, tending to move energy upwards and outwards to the periphery of the body.

Uses: Of the pungent flavor: Stimulates digestion, disperses mucous caused by high lean mucous forming foods such as dairy products and meet and offers protection against mucus conditions such as the common cold. The diaphoretic pungent such as Mint, cayenne, elderflower, scallion, Garlic, and chamomile are used to induce sweating during a common cold or other exterior condition they can also lighten the effects of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, all of which Have moderate mucus-forming properties; They disperse stagnant blood and increase qi energy as well. Some of the extremely pungent flavors such as garlic, mugwort, and cayenne destroy or expel parasites In the west pungency is consumed more often in the form of alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately though these substances have been beneficial short term effect they ultimately cause necrosis, especially brain cell death.

Kidney diseases’ nature is dry, it should be moistened with medicine of an acrid taste. (Nei Jing Chapter 22)


Properties: A yin Cooling effect; tends to move energy downward and inward; Has “centering” earthly qualities; Moistens dryness; Softens hardness lumps and stiffness; Improves digestion; detoxifies the body; and can purge the bowels and promote emesis.

Uses: The salty flavor may be increased in the diet to soften lumps, for example, hardened lymph nodes cataracts and other knotting of the muscles and glands. Salt is used internally for constipation, abdominal swelling and pain, and externally for him sure blood conditions with heat signs, such as most discharges, sore throat (gargle), and pyorrhea (brush teeth with fine salt). Salt counteracts toxins in the body, is an appetant (increases appetite), and is greatly overused especially in the form of common table salt which poor quality.

The Nei Jing states the spleen should be dried with salty flavor in late summer.


Properties: A yin, cooling quality; causes contractions and has a gathering absorbent, stringent effect, to prevent or reverse abnormal leakage of fluids and energy, and to dry and firm up tissues.

Uses: Used in the treatment of urinary dripping, excessive perspiration, hemorrhage, diarrhea, and weak sagging tissues including flaccid skin, hemorrhoids, and uterine prolapse. The sour flavor derives from a great variety of acids some of the common being citric acid, tannic acid, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The most sour flavor such as found in black tea and green tea and BlackBerry leaves can be classified as “astringents.”

The Nei Jing says to gather the energies of the heart with sour in the summer.


Properties: a yin, Cooling effect; Causes contraction and encourages the energy of the body to descend. Reduces the excessive person (Robust, extroverted with thick tongue coating, loud voice reddish complexion) Bitterness is antipyretic, lowering fever; It will also drive fluids and dream dampness. Certain bitter foods and herbs have a purgative effect and induced bowel movement.


Helpful for inflammations, Infections, and overly moist, damp conditions. Also used for constipation perhaps the most underused in least appreciated of the flavors.

According to the Nei Jing when lung energy adversely goes up, it should be purged with bitter tastes.


Properties: A yang flavor, Regularly divided into full sweet (More tonifying and strengthening) and empty sweet (more cleansing and cooling – the flavor that occurs in most fruits.) The sweet flavor especially when bound in warming foods, helps energy expand upward and outward in the body. It is a harmonizing flavor with a slowing, relaxing effect. Sweet foods build the yin of the body – The tissues and fluids – And therefore tonify by the thin and dry person such foods act to strengthen weaknesses and deficiencies in general.

In the Nei Jing, it suggests moderating the liver with sweet flavors in the spring.