The Benefits of Traditional Chinese Herbs
Here in the U.S., we eat what tastes good. School kids going through the school lunch line make food choices based on if the food tastes good or not. Even adults will choose fast food over more nutritious home cooked meals occasionally based on taste. Who wouldn’t want cake or candy over vegetables?
The Chinese view food very differently from those in the U.S. They know that food can have a beneficial healing affect on their bodies by strengthening the immune system and healing illnesses.
Individuals in the U.S. can learn about the concept of using herbs in their diet to benefit their health by reading Chinese Herbal Secrets by Stefan Chmelik. This book explains the principals of some of the more common herbs.
Chinese medicine uses herbs that most Americans would find familiar such as the following:
Sesame seeds are used in salads, as a garnish on green vegetables or on toast with black currant jam.
Walnuts in salad or used in baking can aid those with low energy, lumbar pain or weak knees.
Women’s ginseng (Dang Gui) can be added to soup for those females who suffer from poor sleep, general weakness, fainting, dizziness or tiredness. In Chinese medicine these symptoms are referred to as: deficiency of Blood and often seen in young women who are vegetarian in their dietary choices.
The Chinese call cooking with herbs, “Kitchen Medicine” and many mothers and grandmothers have been caring for the health of their family members for centuries from their kitchens.
Soups and stews are common ways of preparing Chinese herbs for medicinal purposes. These foods (meats, vegetables and Chinese “tonic” herbs) were used to increase Qi, build up the blood, moisten the Yin, warm the Yang, and in general improve the organ functions.
Not only are soups and stews used to promote good health, they are also used to help the body to recover from surgery, childbirth, illness or trauma.
Chinese women also use another way to prepare herbs in food called, Congee. This food item is served at breakfast and is a mixture of herbs and rice.
An example of a favorite soup is:
Chicken soup with the following herbs: astragalus, ginseng, cordyceps, and dates. The herbs used are Astragalus Root, Chinese Red Ginseng Root, American Ginseng Root, Cordyceps fungus, Dioscorea Yan Root, aged Tangerine Peel, Chinese Red Date, either Indian Green Cardomon pods or the Chinese Cardomon and Poria Fungus.
This soup contains the following food and other items:
Cold-pressed sesame oil
Fresh ginger root
A brown onion
Chopped vegetables (variety usually carrots, turnips, daikon)
Skinless hormone-free (very important) chicken
Dark miso paste
There are many Websites with recipes and instructions on how to cook soups and stews.