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Foods For Healthy Chinese Ways
Food as Herbs, Health, and Medicine
Summer Volume: 2019 Issue: 26(2) page(s): 37
Acupuncture, an early Chinese medical treatment,
is one of many ways the Chinese use to help
improve their health. Foods are another way.
Some of the popular foods the Chinese know, you might
want to know about because they have gained the
attention of medical doctors. All have the attention of
traditional practitioners, commonly known as doctors
practicing TCM or ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine.’ Some,
but not all popular ones, listed alphabetically, follow.
Allium Sativum, more commonly known
as garlic, was written about in the Calendar of Hsai,
a four thousand year old Chinese text. They knew then
that it made them feel and get better. Now they know a
lot more about this bulb. They prescribe it to feel better
and now know it can lower blood pressure, reduce
cholesterol levels, lower age-related vascular changes,
and improve coronary heart disease issues. Many
Chinese believe it has antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic
properties, and some of them told us it can reduce
diarrhea, reduce blood in the urine, and reduce fevers,
coughs, headaches, stomach aches, and more.
Almonds, both sweet and bitter, many Chinese
told us have a neutral nature, healing coughs, and
they expel sputum. There were some who told us to
mix both kinds of almonds in a soup to clear heat,
reduce moisture, improve internal dryness, and reduce
Apricots have pits known as Chinese almonds
and they are very bitter. Western medical practitioners
say they contain laetrile and can be toxic while TCM
practitioners say they heal coughing. Botanically
known as Prunius armeniaca, they do contain some
hydrocyanic acid and that is why Western doctors warn
against consuming lots of them. TCM practitioners use
their oil, and you can, too, but only topically. As to these
fruit pits, a lethal dose depends on your size, Ingesting
fifty can lead to death in fifteen minutes for most adults
and children, with amounts varying; so do avoid them
to avoid respiratory failure.
Bamboo botanically known as Arundinaria
japonica, and in Chinese is called zhu ru. People
use these sweet items the Chinese say have a neutral
nature when they are young. They are the world’s fastest
growing plant, and can grow more than six inches in a
few hours. The Chinese mostly use them to treat asthma
and other respiratory problems. They say they calm
people down medically. As delicious food, they also
relieve epilepsy, reduce fevers, and reverse upward qi.
Barley, botanically known as Hordeum vulgare
or distychum, these seeds are also known as coix
seeds. The Chinese believe they aid the spleen,
eliminate viruses and pus. They tell us that juice
from young shoots are safe when taken orally and in
small amounts. TCM practitioners use them to reduce
bronchitis and diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disorders,
too; and to provide strength and stamina when needed.
These seeds have lots of folic acid, riboflavin, niacin,
pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, and vitamin E, and
are used to make tea and alcoholic beverages. Their
sprouts are considered warm and sweet, and can
promote lactation and fortify the spleen. They can be
made into a low-level sweetener.
Bitter Melonis botanically known as
Momordica charantia, the Chinese call it ku gua.
These fruits are related to squash and are found green
to white, and very bumpy to almost smooth. Some
know them as bitter apples, others as bitter gourds,
and there are some who call them balsam pears.
TCM practitioners tell us they use them to treat gout,
ulcers, and skin conditions, the latter when made into
Black Tea and all teas are from the Camellia
sinensis plant the Chinese know as Thea bohea. This
stimulant is not good for stomach disorders; it can
increase vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches, some
TCM practitioners do use it to reduce the risk of heart
attack, but too much black tea causes gastrointestinal
upset as its caffeine causes headaches, nervousness,
insomnia, and agitation. Some Chinese believe it helps
weight loss as a diuretic. Others say it stimulates the
central nervous system, the heart, and many muscles.
Many TCM practitioners say it impacts blood pressure
constricting cerebral vessels, and that it aggravates
duodenal ulcers and increases cardiac arrhythmia.
Camomile flowers closely resemble the daisy,
and the Chinese say have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial,
and anti-spasmodic properties. Made into a
tea, the Chinese use it as a popular remedy for upset
stomachs, insect bites, minor burns, and skin rashes,
Botanically, they call this Matricaria chamomilla,
and gan ju in Chinese, use it to help them sleep, reduce
anxiety, and reduce many inflammations. Known to
sometimes induce a mis-carriage, pregnant women are
advised not to consume it in any form.