‘Heaty’ vs ‘Cooling’

You must have heard the words ‘heaty’ and ‘cooling’ before, but do you really know what it means? Do you know how it can affect your body, and are there any types of food you can take to reverse it?

What is ‘Heaty’ & ‘Cooling’?

Originating from traditional Chinese medicine theory, everything in nature is made up of a balance in yin (dark) and yang (bright) energy. ‘Heaty’ in TCM (阳盛则热) suggests that there is an excess of yang energy in the body, whereas ‘cooling’ in TCM (阴盛则寒) suggests that there is an excess of yin energy in the body.

There are two types of factors that contribute to ‘heatiness’ and ‘coldness’ – external and internal.

External factors such as weather and the food we eat can cause ‘heatiness’ / ‘coldness’ to manifest in the body. For example, eating fried or spicy foods can result in individuals developing ‘heaty’ symptoms. Being in a cold room could result in one developing ‘cooling’ symptoms.

Internal factors such as the inborn constitution of the body can also be the reason for ‘heatiness’ / ‘coldness’. For example, certain individuals who are innately ‘cooling’ would be able to snack incessantly without developing symptoms of ‘heatiness’.



When one is ‘heaty’, ‘cooling’ foods are recommended to counteract the ‘heatiness’ in the body, thus returning the balance of yin and yang energies in the system. In the same way, ‘heaty’ foods are recommended for those who have ‘cooling’ symptoms to help dispel cold and improve circulation. Balance can be seen in the way we pair our foods. For example, durians are usually eaten with mangosteen to achieve an equilibrium in energies.


Characterisation of Foods

Characterisation of Food

‘Heaty’ and ‘cooling’ foods do not represent the temperature of food, instead, they refer to the effect that the food causes on the body. For example, consuming hot desserts such as green bean soup would be recommended to someone with heaty symptoms as the dessert would generate ‘cool’ energy to counteract the ‘heatiness’, hence returning the body back to equilibrium.

It is also important to note that some individuals may experience a combination of both symptoms, and it is best to consult a TCM physician to inquire in depth about the body’s constitution. In some cases, herbal medication would be needed to restore the body back to its balanced state.


Article by Physician Sheryl Tay

Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.


Physician Sheryl Tay

TCM Physician

Double Degree (Honours with Distinction): Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences & Bachelor of Medicine (Chinese Medicine), Nanyang Technological University and Beijing University of Chinese Medicine

Sheryl graduated with double degrees in Biomedical Science and Traditional Chinese Medicine from Nanyang Technological University and Beijing University of Chinese Medicine respectively.

Inquisitive by nature, Sheryl continually looks for ways to expand her TCM knowledge in order to provide the best treatment programme for her patients. As a strong believer of individualised treatment for every patient, she seeks to formulate the most suited and tailored treatment with her knowledge.

Her friendly personality has allowed her to build a good rapport with her patients. Having good communication and trust is essential to her to understand and better cater to patients’ needs.

Expertise: General Health, Pain & Injury Management, Women’s Health, Paediatric Massage.

View more posts by Physician Sheryl Tay

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