The Power of Herbs & Elixirs: Diving into Traditional Chinese Medicine
- On December 11, 2017
- By Cez Krol
- In Food and Drinks
In the Western world, when we feel under the weather our reflex is to pop one of our many, magical pharmaceutical pills. As we swallow this little “cure-all” of a capsule, our anxiety diminishes, and we thank god for the invention of modern medicine.
Upon arriving in China, we get the feeling we’ve entered a parallel world. In many ways, we have. The culture is entirely different from ours, and that includes the way in which the Chinese approach healthcare. Here, synthetic drugs—those we have grown so accustomed to relying on in Europe and America, are only part of the equation. Here, traditional Chinese medicine still reigns.
The foundation of this alternative form of medicine lies in Taoism. It’s an ancient philosophy that is based on the belief that there must be harmony between our bodies and the universe. Practitioners extend this philosophy of connectedness to the systems of the body, expressing that each of our organs not only works to carry out their own function but also to compliment the others.
When one falls ill, a traditional Chinese medical practitioner may choose to treat their patient with massage therapy, acupuncture, specific bathing methods, and/or herbal medicine treatments. The power of herbs is often overlooked in the Western world, disregarded as “pseudoscience.” In fact, these natural, medical gems have been utilized for thousands of years and are proven to have real benefits for our health.
So, out of curiosity and that constant desire to be improving ourselves, we took a look at a few specific Chinese herbs. Here are some powerful ones to start incorporating in your diet:
Used to help combat stress, boost energy levels and improve our immune system.
He Shou Wu
He Shou Wu comes from the tuberous root Polygonum multiform. This tonic herb helps us resist signs of aging by helping us clear toxins from the body. In doing so, it increases our Jing energy, nourishing the blood, and balancing blood pressure.
“The king of mushrooms,” this superfood is used to help support the liver. It is extremely anti-inflammatory and is often taken to increase longevity, boost immune function and provide greater mental clarity
This fungus helps fight inflammation, heal leaky gut, and can act as an adaptogenic herb. Also, it reduces fatigue and stress in its consumers, while also delivering energy. Athletes often use it to boost their stamina
A strong antioxidant that protects from oxidative stress and supports cerebral function; it has been particularly helpful for those with circulatory and memory problems.
Sometimes referred to as the “female ginseng” because of its ability to help balance estrogen levels and ease PMS symptoms; also known for aiding with iron deficiencies, toning and nourishing the blood, treating eczema and rosacea, and promoting relaxation
An adaptogenic superfood that brings you to homeostasis; often used to boost energy levels, help fight depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, and combat both common colds infectious diseases. This delicious high-protein berry can be used in many different ways, for instance in salad dressings, or in homemade ice cream.
The great thing about these herbs is that, unlike medicinal herbs where you have to watch your dosage, they can be used daily without any backlash. Over time, they will help your depleted bodily systems build back up, giving you greater health and vitality.
In terms of consumption, herbs are often mixed and taken together in the form of teas, powders, and elixirs so that the consumer will reap the most benefits.
One delicious recipe that will keep you warm and cozy this winter:
Hot Chocolate Mushroom Elixir
For the base, we like to use Four Sigmatic’s single packs of reishi mushroom mix. Then add a teaspoon of raw cacao and raw maca. Blend it all up, and you’ve got a frothy, chocolatey treat that is going to deliver you energy and nutrients galore. And if you want to add a little something extra- sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg on top. This elixir will keep the doctor away, and your hand out of the Advil-jar.
What’s your stance on Traditional Chinese Medicine?
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