Common Chinese Herbs

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In Traditional Chinese Medicine, all the common Chinese herbs and foods are classified according to their innate properties:

  • Heaty, which stimulates the system;
  • Cooling, which soothes the system; and
  • Neutral, herbs that neither stimulates nor soothes.

Now, let's look at the best known or most common herbs, readily available in every kitchen and explores some of their less well-known therapeutic values.

Ginger ... Common Chinese Herbs

Ginger is by nature a heaty food source. Known for its anti-bacterial, anti-nausea and wind-purging properties. Slice or bruise some ginger in water with some rock sugar and bring the contents to a boil. This is a good beverage if you are suffering from cold, feel nauseous or have a bloated stomach. Ginger is classified as a heaty food source.

Garlic ... Common Chinese Herbs

Fresh garlic does contain compounds that fortify the immune system against common colds, coughs and other kind of respiratory ailments. In most forms of Chinese cooking, garlic is quintessentially a flavour enhancer. Garlic is classified as a heaty food source.

Dried Logans, Lotus Seeds,
And Red Dates ... Common Chinese Herbs

The Chinese believe both dried longans and lotus seeds are exceptionally good for the heart, spleen and kidneys; whilst red dates combined with dried longans. are considered to be very effective in fighting against anaemia and fatigue, and boosting energy levels. Red dates and dried longans are a widely used ingredient in the diet of Chinese women during confinement. They are both classified as heaty, and lotus seeds are regarded as being neutral.

Angelica (Dang Gui) ... Common Chinese Herbs

Angelica (dang gui ) is the recommended herb for women, while ginseng is the herb for men.

It is said that Angelica contains vitamin B12, which aids blood formation. Angelica is considered to be a heaty food source in Chinese cuisine.

White Fungus ... Common Chinese Herbs

White fungus is regarded as one of the most invaluable delicacies in Chinese cuisines. While enjoying its crunchiness, Chinese women love it as it is believed to promote health skin and good complexion. White fungus also benefits the lung, stomach and kidneys. It is classified as a cooling food source in Chinese cuisine.

Watercress ... Common Chinese Herbs

The Chinese name of this vegetable is "Vegetables from the Western Ocean". Due to its high vitamin content, watercress is highly regarded for its recuperative value. Besides spinach, watercre contains the next highest iron content, which makes it blood-enriching and excellent for the treatment of anaemia. Unlike heaty, blood-nourishing food such as red dates and dried longans, watercress is classified as cooling, yet blood enriching food source in Chinese cuisine.

Water Chestnut ... Common Chinese Herbs

Water chestnut is a good form of roughage to cleanse the intestinal tract of the 'yang' elements. Its heat relieving and refreshing properties make it good for children, who tend to over-indulge in their favourite 'heaty' fried snacks. It is classified as cooling food source in Chinese cuisine.

Sesame Seeds ... Common Chinese Herbs

Sesame seeds, despite its size, contain an abundance of protein, minerals, calcium and polyunsaturated oils. It helps to nourish the lungs, improve blood circulation and increase body energy. White sesame seeds are a food garnish, while black sesame seeds are more frequently used as medicine for the liver and kidneys, and to darken prematurely grey hair. Sesame seeds are considered to be a heaty food source in Chinese cuisine.

Astragalus (Bei Qi) ... Common Chinese Herbs

Astragalus (bei qi) helps promote blood circulation and lowers blood pressure. It is also a favourite remedy for general weakness and nervous exhaustion. Astragalus is c1assified as a cooling food source in Chinese cuisine.

Wolfberries (Gou Qi Zi) ... Common Chinese Herbs

Wolfberries play an important role in traditional Chinese medicine where they are believed to enhance immune system function, improves eyesight, protect the liver, boost sperm production, and improve circulation, amid other effects. In Chinese medicine, wolfberries are sweet in taste and neutral in nature; they act on the liver, lung, and kidney channels and enrich yin. They can be eaten raw, brewed into a tea, or prepared as a tincture.

Wolfberries are nutritionally rich, containing beta-carotene, Vitamins C, B1, B2 and other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. Companies marketing the berries also claim the berries contain nutrients such as isoleucine, tryptophan, zinc, iron, copper, calcium, germanium, selenium, phosphorus, B6, and vitamin E. Wolfberries are classified as a neutral food source in Chinese cuisine.

Chrysanthemum Flowers ... Common Chinese Herbs

Dried Chrysanthemum flowers are boiled to make a sweet drink in some parts of Asia. The resulting beverage is known simply as "chrysanthemum tea". Chrysanthemum tea has many medicinal uses. The boiled flowers may be kept in the fridge and may be used as eye masks to ease tired eyes or bring down heavy eye bags. Chrysanthemum is classified as a cooling food source in Chinese cuisine.

Lotus Root ... Common Chinese Herbs

Covered with a coat of mud from the lily pond, lotus roots are definitely out of the childrens' choice list when you bring them shopping at the local market. But did you know that the coat of mud helps to keep the root fresh? Raw lotus roots are said to "clear" heat, while cooked ones can help purify blood and stimulate appetite. Lotus root is classified as a cooling food source in Chinese cuisine.

Winter Melon ... Common Chinese Herbs

Known for its cooling effects, winter melon is frequently added to soups, sweet desserts and teas to soothe the throat, and to help reduce body heat, especially in hot and humid climates. Winter melon is classified as a cooling food source in Chinese cuisine.

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