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Foods For Healthy Chinese Ways

by Jacqueline M. Newman

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 coughing, too.

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 a poultice.

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.

                                                                                                                                                       
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