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Chinese Herbal Medicines

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Food as Herbs, Health, and Medicine

Winter Volume: 2019 Issue: 26(4) page(s): 24


With no end to what one can learn, the Chinese believe herbals are great in tonic soups. Loved and prescribed frequently, TCM practitioners prescribe them for specific reasons while ordinary folk just like them to feel better. Touted by some as cures, they are popular, well-known, mentioned by the Chinese for their general nature, know by name in Chinese, some know them botanically too, and many know what they are commonly prescribed for.

To help you do likewise, below we list the more popular ones by their botanical names, their names in Chinese, the natures Chinese ascribe to them, and the health reasons TCM practitioners recommend them for. Do enjoy reading and learning about them!

Chen Pi is tangerine peel, and the Chinese believe it warm in nature and tasting bittersweet. They say it improves digestion, regulates qi, improves the lungs, and helps those with a low white blood count.

Codonopsis Pilosula, in Chinese is called dang shen, and said to be warm in nature and bittersweet. This perennial has lots of protein, glucose, and B vitamins, regulates the stomach and spleen, replenishes qi, improves lungs, and helps those with leukopenia, their numbers white blood cell counts.

Folium Mori are leaves from mulberry trees. Known as sang ye in Chinese, the white ones are botanically known as Morum alba. They reduce flu symptoms and fevers, bleeding too, cool blood, clear swollen eyes and brighten eyesight, and they cleanse the liver.

Ganoderma Lucidum, in Chinese is ling zhi. They are often sold dried and reddish-brown. These mushrooms are neutral in nature and taste bittersweet, are mostly seen big and hard, and are said to be parasitic and in the Polyporacease family. They grow at the roots of oak or broad-leaf trees, are rich in water-soluble proteins, and Chinese believe them nourishing, able to help digestion, cure insomnia, warm the stomach, relieve pain, prevent cancer, and help the elderly in many ways.

Gingko Biloba has many glycosides that assist reducing food poisoning and decomposing many toxins. However, to eat too many can lead to other poisonings, so do consume only a few at a time, and under the direction of a TCM professional when taking them.

Goji, also their name in Chinese, are small red berries in the Solanaceae family. The Chinese say are neutral in nature, and when dry can brown. Fresh or dry, they are known for their very high Vitamin C content, perhaps the highest among fruits, and once were called wolfberries or medlar. TCM practitioners tell us they reduce high blood sugar, improve eyesight, and positively impact ones hemoglobin.

Grosvener Siritia is neutral in nature, tastes sweet, yet said to be bittersweet. Called lou han in Chinese, painfully thin people know they help them by adding weight, and they are good for children who need that, too. They also help reduce excess phlegm no matter ones size.

Night-Blooming Cereus, Chinese call ba wang hua. They say their nature is cool, their taste bitter sweet, and that they expel dampness. They also reduce effects of excess alcohol and tobacco intake, relieve bad breath, ease constipation, reduce red eyes, and alleviate dry throats.

Ligusticun Chuanxiong in English is known as Sichuan lovage root. The Chinese call it chuan xiong. They say its nature is warm and tastes savory. In the Umbelliferae family, it roots underground and they say it revitalizes blood, stops joint pain, expands blood vessels, and relieves headaches and muscle soreness.

Radix Achyranthis is called nui xi in Chinese. They believe it neutral in nature and tastes bitter and sour. They say it expels heat, strengthens muscles and bones, revitalizes blood, cures knee and lumbar pain, and pain in the waist, too.

Radix Polygoni Multiflora is warm in nature and tastes bittersweet. Chinese call it he shou wu, and say it is rich in fat, starch, oil, and sugar, and enhances liver and kidneys, improves cholesterol and arteriosclerosis, and can darken the color of their hair.

Yu Jiao is fish maw the Chinese say is warm in nature and tastes bittersweet. The best, they say, are from large croakers as they are rich in proteins and vitamins, and they replenish blood.

Ziziphus Jujubai is the botanical name for all dates. The Chinese call them zao, the red ones are hong zao, black ones nan zao. They say their nature is warm, somewhat bittersweet, and a mite sour, too. Both are used to strengthen the spleen and stomach, replenish blood, and reduce hemorrhoids.

                                                                                                                                                       
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