Chinese herbs are herbs originating from China. They are widely used in Chinese cuisine. The use of Chinese herbs is a very popular tradition. “Many of the modern day drugs have been developed from these herbs such as the treatments for asthma and hay fever from Chinese ephedra, hepatitis remedies from schizandra fruits and licorice roots and a number of anticancer agents from trees and shrubs”. “There are several herbal drugs that invigorate the energy, nourish the blood, calm tension and regulate menstruation such as Bupleurum Sedative Pills and Women’s Precious Pills”. There are over three hundred herbs that are commonly being used today that have a history that goes back at least 2,000 years.
The two most common ways to using herbs are (i) make a strong tea that should be simmered for about an hour or possibly more, or (ii) to swallow small or large honey bound teapills with water (which is becoming the more common way.
Most Chinese herbs are usually used to help build and strengthen the body. The most commonly used herbs are Ginseng (renshen), wolfberry, Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis, tang-kuei or danggui), astragalus (huangqi), atractylodes (baizhu), bupleurum (chaihu), cinnamon (cinnamon twigs (guizhi) and cinnamon bark (rougui)), coptis (huanglian), ginger (jiang), hoelen (fuling), licorice (gancao), ephedra sinica (ma-huang), peony (white:baishao and reddish:chihhao), rehmannia (dihuang), rhubarb (dahuang), and salvia (danshen). These are just a few of the herbs. The use of Ginseng is well “over two thousand years old in Chinese medicine”. Ginseng is known to help boost your energy, reduce stress and increases your endurance. Ginseng consists of ginsenosides. “The amount of ginsenosides in ginseng depends on how the plant was cultivated and the age of the root”. “Wild ginseng is rare and commands for the highest prices on the market, but most ginseng on the market today is a reasonable price. Red Panax ginseng is the most popular form of ginseng and it is usually packaged as a liquid or tea”. Ginseng comes in two kinds, red and white. The color of the ginseng depends on how it is processed. “White ginseng is unprocessed and dries naturally. Red ginseng is preserved with steam and is believed to be more effective”. Native Americans have used American ginseng for dry coughs, constipation and fevers. “Many women found relief from night sweats and hot flashes from the use of American ginseng”. “The use of ginseng is a safe way to boost energy, vitality and your overall health”.
Wolfberry is grown in the Far East and is grown from shrubs with long vines. The shrubs are covered with small trumpet-shaped flowers, which turn into small, bright red berries. The berries are usually fresh and sometimes used when it is dried. “Goji Berry is mostly used to treat kidney, liver, eye, and skin problems, diabetes, tuberculosis, anxiety, and insomnia. It also helps to lower the blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They are known to improve the state of health, strengthen the immune system and increasing the longevity and vitality of the human kind”.
Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis or "female ginseng") is an “aromatic herb that grows in China, Japan and Korea. It is used to regulate the menstrual cycle and to treat menopausal symptoms caused by the hormonal changes”. Even though it is good for women, it also helps treat the heart, spleen, liver and kidneys that help both the men and women. The effect of the herb in treating menstrual cramps is explained by the compounds that help relax the muscle tissue and relieves pain. Dong Quai also stimulates the central nervous system, which can remedy menstrual weakness and headaches. “The use of this herb is mostly found in tea, herbal preparations, capsules and extracts. It usually comes in tablet, liquid extract and raw root forms. For the best use of the Dong Quai to provide long term relief from menopause syndromes is to take it regularly between 8 and 12 weeks and especially at the end of the treatment”. “Using Dong Quai regularly relieves menstrual cramps, prevents the symptoms of menopause and PMS, corrects hormone imbalance and acts as a general tonic for the female reproductive system”. “There isn’t a certain amount of dosage for Dong Quai but in Chinese medicine Dong Quai is made in a special way- it is boiled or soaked in wine, then the liquid is taken orally while the root is being removed”. “In the United States and Europe, Dong Quai is a very popular flavoring component in food products such as ice cream, candy, gelatins and puddings but in Asia it is most likely used to treat female troubles”.
Astragalus is a root used for immune deficiencies and allergies. “The Chinese use the dried sliced or powdered root to boost the immune system, to increase the body resistance to infections, healing allergies and to raise and renew vitality. Astragalus is usually mixed with other herbs to make tea such as ginseng and Codonopsis. Astragalus is known to help prevent diseases but not to cure them”.
“Atractylodes are considered very important to the treatment of digestive disorders and problems of moisture accumulation. The herb helps move moisture from the digestive tract to the blood that reduces diarrhea, gas and bloating. Atractylodes is rarely ever used by itself. It is usually included into tonic prescriptions”.
“Bupleurum is useful for the treatment of liver diseases, skin ailments, arthritis, menopausal syndrome, withdrawal from corticosteroid use, nephritis, stress-induced ulcers, and mental disorders. Bupleurum is rich in saponins that reduce inflammation and regulates hormone levels. This specific herb isn’t to be used by itself, but combined with 4 to 12 other ingredients that is made into tea, pills or tablets.”
“Cinnamon or mostly known as guizhi and rougi are twigs and bark from large tropical trees that are to warm the body, invigorate the circulation in the body, and harmonize the energy of the upper and lower body”. Cinnamon also reduces allergy reactions. The herb is usually cooked together with other herbs to make tea that regulates the circulation of blood.
Coptis is an underground stem that is one of the bitterest herbs used in Chinese medicine. “It is full of alkatoids that inhibit infections and calm nervous agitation”. Coptis is usually combined with other bitter-tasting herbs such as phellodendron, scute and gardenia. This herb has many uses including the treatment of skin diseases, intestinal infections, hypertensions and insomnia. Since coptis is such a bitter tasting herb, it is often used to make pills or tablets.
Ginger is a herb and a spice that can be used for many uses even in Chinese cuisine. In this case, it is used in Chinese medicine. “Ginger is highly spicy and is beneficial to digestion, neutralizing poisons in food, ventilating the lungs, to warm the circulation to the limbs, diarrhea and heart conditions”. “Many herbalists use ginger to treat coughs and the common cold”. Ginger is also used in making tea.
“Hoelen is a large fungus that grows on pine roots and is used alleviate irritation and transports moisture out of the digestive system into the blood stream and from the different body tissues to the bladder. When parts of the pine root is mixed with the herb, it is called fushen and produces a mild sedative action”.
Licorice or gancao are roots that have an extremely sweet taste but is a little bitter and are said to neutralize toxins, relieve inflammation, and enhance digestion. The use of licorice is to treat hepatitis, sore throat, and muscle spasms. When licorice is baked with honey it can also help in the treatment of hyperthyroidism and heart valve diseases.
Ma-huang is another type of herb. “Ma-huang is a stem-like herb that stimulate perspiration, open the breathing passages and invigorate the central nervous system”. “It is said that ma-huang has a metabolic enhancer that can burn more calories and quicker than fro those that are trying to lose weight”. Ma-huang can be made into a tea or can be used in an extract form but powdered ma-huang is rarely ever used.
Peony or is also known as baishao and chihshao is a flower where the Chinese use the root of the peony to regulate the blood. “The root of the peony relaxes the blood vessels, reduces platelt sticking, nourishes the blood and promotes circulation to the skin and extremities”. “The roots of both wild and cultivated are used. The wild peonies “red peony” (chihshao) are a fibrous root that is used to stimulate blood circulation. The cultivated peony “white peony” (baishao) is a dense root that nourishes the blood. Peony is often combined with tang-kuei or licorice”.
“Rehmannia or dihuang is a root where the dark, moist part of the herb is used to nourish the blood and the hormonal system. It is usually used in the treatment problems of aging because the herbs ability to restore the levels of several declining hormones. There are two forms of the herb that are currently used. One is designated shengdihuang or raw rehmannia is given to reduce inflammation. The other designated shoudihuang or cooked rehmannia is used as a nourishing tonic. Often the two forms are combined together in equal proportions to address inflammatory problems. This herb is mostly used in making decoctions or dried decoctions”.
“Rhubarb (dahuang) is a large root and was once one of the first herbs that was imported from China. Rhubarb is a reliable laxative and it enhances the appetite when it is taken before meals in very small amounts. It also promotes blood circulation and relieving pain in cases of injury or inflammation and inhibiting intestinal infections. Rhubarb can also reduce autoimmune reactions. The impact of the rhubarb depends on how it is prepared. If the rhubarb is cooked for a long time, the laxative actions are reduced but other actions are retained”.
“Salvia (danshen) are the deep roots of this Chinese sage plant. It is applied in the cases where the body tissues have been damaged by disease or injury. Salvia is given for post-stroke syndrome, traumatic injury, chronic inflammation and/or infection, and degenerative diseases. It is best known for its ability to promote circulation in the capillary beds or the microcirculation system. Also, salvia lowers blood pressure, helps reduce cholesterol and enhances functions of the liver. Salvia can be taken alone or consumed with other herbs, teas or pills”.
“Tang-kuei (danggui) is a long root that is known as a blood nourishing agent. It is highly used among women because teng-kuei will help regulate uterine blood flow and contraction but when it is in complex formulas it can be used by both men and women to nourish the blood, moisten the intestines, improve the circulation, calm tension and relieve pain. Tang-kuei can be made as tea or cooked with chicken to make soup and the taste is quite strong”.