Chuanxiong

Ingredient Name: Chuanxiong, Szechuan lovage, lovage

Traditional Chinese Name: 川芎 (Chuānxiōng)

What is this?
  • A fundamental herb in Chinese medicine
  • This herb belongs to the carrot family, is native to East Asia and is a perennial herb with massive fist-like rhizomes
  • The rhizome itself is irregular shaped and brown in color
  • You can find this root available as dried, powdered, sliced, tablets, capsules and even root oil

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in warm water for 10 minutes and rinse before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • Some wet marts will have this in the herbal shops
  • Chinese medicine shops will definitely have this as well (and it does come in various sizes, shapes and forms)

What is the cost?

  • This is not an expensive herb
  • It is commonly sold together with other ingredients (for the tea, drink or Chinese medicine you want to make)

Any benefits?

  • Chuanxiong helps with the circulation of the qi
  • It aids in expelling wind from the body
  • It is antibacterial, antiviral and can act as an anti-inflammatory agent
  • One of the valuable properties of this plant is it pain killing ability
  • It is commonly used to improve blood circulation (such as irregular menstruation or amenorrhea)
  • Chuanxiong is also good for reducing abdominal pain, head pains, head aches, pain due to injuries

Any precautions?

  • Take caution when serving to children (use in moderation as with all Chinese medicine)
  • It is recommended that pregnant women also avoid this herb (but conversely is used in postpartum treatment to eliminate excess blood)
  • If you’ve got a naturally warm body, use with caution as sometimes “warm”  ingredients or soups will make you heated
  • Be sure to purchase from a reputable source

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cool place (up to 6 months)

Fried Licorice Root

Ingredient Name: Mizhi Licorice root, Fried Licorice (Liquorice), Sweet root, Chinese Licorice, Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Traditional Chinese Name: 灸甘草 (jiǔ gān cǎo)

What is this?

  • This is a variation of the Licorice root, but is prepared with honey and fried
  • The root of the licorice plant which is extracted and dried
  • Common Chinese herbal ingredient and often found in Chinese medicines
  • Mainly grown in China (Eastern & Northern parts)
  • Slightly sweet in flavor
  • The fried version is said to be more effective on the stomach and relieving diarrhea

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water prior to use

Where can I buy this?

  • This is available in most Asian supermarkets
  • Also available in Chinese herbals stores

What is the cost

  • 10 g cost around $2-3 HKD
  • Extremely affordable

Any benefits?

  • Used to aid cough, sore throat, asthma and remove phlegm
  • Helps in detoxifying the body
  • Helps relieve diarrhea
  • When it is fried, it is considered warm

Any precautions?

  • People with heart disease or high blood pressure should be cautious about using licorice

References

Atractylodes or Bai Zhu

Ingredient Name: Atractylodes, atractylodes lancea, bai zhu, dong zhu, xia zhu

Traditional Chinese Name: 白朮 (bai zhu)

What is this?
  • This is the rhizome of a plant in the genus that is similar to that of the daisy
  • The rhizome is dried and the stems and roots are cut from it
  • The atractylode is a common Chinese herb and is bitter and warm in characteristics
  • It is used to treat dampness (ideal for the Spring), reduce sweating, promotes digestion and acts on the spleen and stomach
  • It is primarily used in Chinese medicines more than soups (used in teas)
  • Good condition bai zhu is slightly sticky to texture and moist

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in warm water for 10 minutes and rinse before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • Some wet marts will have this in the herbal shops
  • Chinese medicine shops will definitely have this as well (and it does come in various sizes)

What is the cost?

  • This is not an expensive herb
  • It is commonly sold together with other ingredients (for the tea you want to make)

Any benefits?

  • It is used to treat dampness (ideal for the Spring), reduce sweating, promotes digestion and acts on the spleen and stomach
  • It is slightly warm, but does also remove heatiness (by carrying some heat out of the body through elimination of dampness)
  • It improves the overall immune system
  • Atractylodes is also anti bacterial and helps lower blood sugar levels

Any precautions?

  • Take caution when serving to children (use in moderation as with all Chinese medicine)
  • If you’ve got a naturally warm body, use with caution as sometimes “warm”  ingredients or soups will make you heated
  • Be sure to purchase from a reputable source

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cool place (up to 6 months)

 

Cistanche

Ingredient Name: Cistanche, Herba cistanche

Traditional Chinese Name: 肉苁蓉 (ròucōngróng)

What is this?
  • This ingredient is considered as part of the Chinese medicine repertoire (although more specifically, it is the Cistanche deserticola)
  • It is a desert plant (shrub like which grows from 2-6 feet tall) with an usual behavior in that it extracts nutrients and water from plants around it (in order to grow)
  • The plant is harvested in the Spring (before it is able to sprout) by slicing its stem and it is dried and processed for Chinese medicine
  • The plant that produces this ingredient is labeled as “endangered” and harvesting is being monitored
  • Cistanche is actually commonly found in many western sold health supplements (ie: search online and you’ll see bottled, ground or pilled Cistanche for sale)

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in warm water and rinse before using in soups
  • You can cut it up into small pieces (slices) for soups as well

Where can I buy this?

  • You can purchase this in most wet marts in Hong Kong who sell herbs
  • Chinese medicine shops will definitely have this in various forms a well (such as powdered, whole & dried, sliced, or little pieces)

What is the cost?

  • It will vary depending on size and condition of the Cistanche
  • In general, not overly cheap, but not extremely expensive

Any benefits?

  • It has clinically proven to slow aging, improves the memory, and enhance antibody production within the body
  • Cistanche helps dissipate wind and cold from the body
  • It helps with boosting appetite and the kidneys and large intestines and moistens the body
  • It is also said that this ingredient helps elderly who are always cold
  • Some say that this ingredient is a mild aphrodisiac

Any precautions?

  • Take caution when serving to children (use in moderation as with all Chinese medicine)
  • If you’ve got a naturally warm body, use with caution as sometimes “warm”  ingredients or soups will make you heated
  • Good quality Cistanch is dark, large and slightly moist (see enclosed picture)
  • Be sure to purchase from a reputable source

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cool place (up to 6 months)

Rehmannia root or Chinese foxglove root

Ingredient Name: Rehmannia root, Chinese foxglove root, Sheng di huang, Radix Rehmanniae

Chinese Name: 生地 (Shēng dì)

A very interesting and scary looking Chinese medicine.  My herbalist recommended this to me for my “cooling” tea to rid me of my “fiery” condition of sore throat and heaty body.  I had to ask him a few times what it is and then spell it for me in the simplest of Chinese terms, but I managed to come to a good understanding of this ingredient.  This will make any water, soup, tea, drink BLACK – so beware.  It’s not a bad thing, but sometimes black and dark things aren’t the most pleasant things to drink – well, except for black coffee for some people and cola.  But in Chinese medicine, black is usually associated with bitter.

What is this?
  • The root of the Chinese foxglove plant
  • The root is harvested in the spring or autumn, dried in the sun and sliced into usable portions
  • This plant is most commonly found in China and the root is a common Chinese medicine ingredient
  • It is known as a “cooling” ingredient with sweet and bitter properties
  • The root is almost black in color and will certainly make your soup or tea black
  • Found in various forms such as dried (as picture above) or powdered

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water before usage

Where can I buy this?

  • Most herbalists will carry this ingredient
  • Chinese medicine stores

What is the cost?

  • Relatively affordable
  • As pictured above, 2 pieces I purchase cost me $3 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Helps remove heatiness in the body and cool the blood
  • Relieves sore throats, dry mouths and helps cool the body to eliminate thick, green mucous caused by heatiness
  • Can help reduce a low-grade fever
  • Can help eliminate and reduce cold sores in the mouth and tongue
  • Nourishes the “yin”

Any precautions?

  • As it is cooling, it should be avoided by pregnant women in their first trimester (or even throughout a pregnancy) as it stimulates menstruation (it is also known to be used to prevent or terminate pregnancies)
  • Avoid if you’re lactating (breastfeeding)
  • Avoid using or consuming this ingredient if you have spleen problems, diarrhea or lack of appetite
  • Limit exposure and use for children