Chinese Herbs in Your Kitchen?

For many people, the thought of taking Chinese herbs seems foreign and mysterious.  But did you know that several herbs that have been used medicinally for thousands of years can be found right inside your kitchen?

Ginger–  Ginger is known as sheng jiang.  It is a warm and spicy herb that is used to “release the exterior”, or “sweat out” a common cold.  It is also used to warm the stomach and lungs, treating nausea and cough.

Green Onions– Green onion (Cong bai) is used similarly as Ginger in order to treat a common cold, as well as abdominal distention and nasal congestion

Recipe!:  Combining Ginger, green onion, and honey into a tea is a go-to home remedy for me when I’m coming down with a cold, especially one with a scratchy throat and nasal congestion.   Boil a few thin slices of ginger for 10 minutes in 2 cups of water, and then add two chopped up green onions for an additional 5 minutes.  Strain, add honey, and enjoy.

Mint – Mint (bo he) is also used to treat a common cold.  But as it is cooling, it is used when more signs of heat are present, particularly a sore throat and fever.  It has been shown to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.  It is also commonly used to treat an upset stomach.

Tangerine Peel- Also known as chen pi, tangerine peel is used to regulate the qi (energy) throughout the body and prevent it from stagnating, as well as treating phlegm in the body.  It is useful for treating bloating as well as well as a phlegmy cough.

Turmeric- Turmeric (yu jin) is a cold, spicy, and bitter herb.  It is used to invigorate the blood and reduce inflammation, and therefore is used to treat pain, both chronic and acute.  Studies have shown that turmeric is also beneficial for the heart and brain and may help reduce heart disease and depression.  If you are using fresh turmeric, make sure to consume it with some crushed black pepper as well.  The black pepper helps the body process the turmeric better.

In addition to these herbs, you can easily find some chinese herbal teas at your local grocery store.  Chrysanthemum tea is helpful for treating dry, itchy eyes.  And dandelion tea is often used as a liver tonic to promote healthy liver function.

Chinese health practitioners have been using herbal medicine safely and effectively for thousands of years.  Hundreds of different herbs have been identified from plants sources, mineral sources, and animals.  While Chinese herbs are not regulated by the FDA, there are many wonderful companies making effort to produce organic, safety tested, products with no additives.  GMP (Good manufacturing practices) is a certification to look out for.  Check with your herbal practitioner to make sure you are comfortable with the quality of herbs they are using.

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