The concept of “food is medicine” is not new. In fact, it is deeply rooted in TCM where it is believed that different foods have its energies and nourishing power to strengthen specific organs and keep our body in balance. Here are 10 TCM herbs every kitchen should have to strengthen your family’s health.
Benefits: If eyes are windows to the soul, then wolfberries are the doorway to better eye health and youthful looking skin. Wolfberries are nutritional powerhouses that are chock full of antioxidants, including Vitamin C, zeaxanthin and carotenoids, that may have anti-aging and cancer fighting effects. In TCM, they are often used to nourish Yin energy, detox the liver, and promote circulation of blood and Qi.
Common uses: Use wolfberries to naturally sweeten your beverages or fortify your soups. Add a handful to your herbal tea, savoury dishes, soups and porridge.
Recommended products: Premium Wolfberries
Benefits: A versatile herb that aids in reducing stress, and improving immunity, stamina, energy and mental function. American ginseng also helps to tonify Qi (vital energy) and nourish Yin; clear heat and promote generation of body fluids — beneficial to those who experience vexation, shortness of breath, lack of strength, thirst and dry mouth.
Common uses: Steep 3g of American ginseng in hot water for five minutes to enjoy as a tea. Commonly added to soups as an immune booster, you may complement American ginseng with red dates and wolfberries for Qi-replenishing and blood nourishing benefits.
Benefits: Chrysanthemum tea is a natural coolant as well as a good detoxifying agent. It also helps to reduce inflammation, soothe tired eyes and calm our nerves. In TCM, it is often used to dispel wind-heat, clear liver, improve vision, clear heat and relieve toxicity.
Common uses: Steep in hot water for five minutes for a refreshing floral tea. Add some wolfberries into your herbal tea blend for good eye health. To alleviate cough with lots of phlegm, try boiling chrysanthemum with tangerine peels.
Benefits: From TCM perspective, Chinese yam helps to replenish Qi (vital energy), nourish Yin, and tonify our spleen, lungs and kidneys. It is great for aiding digestion, tackling cold hands and feet caused by blood-qi deficiency, regulating sleep and emotions, and also reducing our risk of developing the common cold.
Common uses: Add them into chicken or pork soup together with other ingredients such as red dates, cordyceps militaris and wolfberries to strengthen your family’s health.
Recommended products: Yam Rhizome (Huai Shan)
TENDRILLEAF FRITILLARY BULB（川贝母）
Benefits: Used in TCM to clear heat and resolve phlegm; moisten the lungs and relieve cough; dissipate mass and relieve swelling.
Common uses: Double boil snow pear with tendrilleaf fritillary bulb (川贝母), nan xin (南杏) and bei xin (北杏) to dispel phlegm. It also makes a nourishing tonic for the lungs even for those who do not have cough.
Benefits: Codonopsis Root is a mild herb yet it has powerful strengthening effects on the digestive, respiratory and immune systems. It is commonly used in TCM to reinforce Qi, nourish the blood, improve blood circulation, replenish vital energy and relieve fatigue.
Common uses: Commonly added in everyday soups. Try this combination of herbs in your soup to tonify Qi, boost energy, dispel toxins, nourish blood and promote skin regeneration: 20g Codonopsis Root 党参 (Dang Shen), 20g Milkvetch Root 北芪 (Bei Qi), 3-4 pieces of Yam Rhizome 淮山 (Huai Shan), 10g Solomon Seal Rhizome 玉竹 (Yu Zhu), 10g Wolfberries 枸杞 (Gou Qi) and 10g Dried Longans 龙眼干 (Long Yan Gan).
DRIED HAWTHORN BERRIES（山楂）
Benefits: From TCM perspective, hawthorn berries help to promote digestion and relieve dyspepsia; invigorate blood and disperse blood-stasis. They also help to control blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, and improve coronary artery blood flow.
Common uses: Often served as an after-meal tea. Add approximately 15-20 pieces of hawthorn to 500ml of water, boil for 15 minutes and serve as a tea. Let the tea cool down to room temperature before adding manuka honey for a sweeter aftertaste.
Recommended products: Dried Hawthorn Berries 山楂 (Shan Zha)
Benefits: Red dates help to boost Qi, nourish the blood, strengthen the spleen and stomach, tranquillise the mind, reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
Common uses: Commonly added to soups or teas as a tonifying herb. For a red date tea that replenishes vital energy and improve blood circulation, boil approximately 25g red dates, 10g dried longans and 10g wolfberries in 500ml of water.
Recommended products: Red Dates 特等若姜红枣 (Te Deng Re Jiang Hong Zao)
Benefits: Consuming Chinese barley (Job’s Tears) has the benefits of strengthening the spleen, clearing heat, and nourishing the skin. Regular consumption also helps to promote healthy blood sugar, reduce cholesterol and draining dampness by promoting urination.
Common uses: To cook barley water, you will need 100g of Chinese barley, 100g of candied winter melon and 2 pandan leaves (rinsed and knotted) in 2 litres of water. Bring them to a boil and let it simmer under low heat for an hour.
Recommended products: Chinese Barley (Job’s Tears) 中国薏米 (Zhong Guo Yi Mi)
Benefits: Dried scallops help to nourish the Yin, tonify the blood, nourish the kidney, and regulate the spleen and stomach.
Common uses: One of the “eight treasures from the sea”, their rich aroma and flavour make them a wonderful ingredient that lifts the overall flavours – perfect for porridge, soups, vegetable dishes, steamed eggs, sticky rice, and fried rice.
Note: Just like any herbal products, please consult a medical practitioner before consuming, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing or on any medications.