Chinese Herbs: Ancient Strength and Healing

The use of Chinese herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is believed to be as ancient as the country’s history itself, or even older. During the time of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, survival was contingent on their knowledge of their surroundings.  First-hand experienced taught them which herbs and plants were toxic; and which ones sustained life, which ones provided strength, and which once offered healing.

Following are some of the most popular and potent herbs they discovered:

Astragalus

The root of this plant is often used in teas and soups, in capsule form, or as extracts.  The herb is believed to treat and prevent upper respiratory infections and common colds, and is usually used in combination with other herbs that likewise strengthen and support the body’s immune system like angelica, licorice, and ginseng. Some herbal practitioners also recommend it for the treatment of heart diseases. In China, Astragalus is commonly used for treating chronic hepatitis and as supplemental cancer treatment.

Gingko

Gingko leaf extracts are used in making teas or pills. These are also used as ingredients in a number of skincare products. Herbalists prescribe gingko leaf for bronchitis, asthma, tinnitus, and fatigue. It also helps improves memory, and helps prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia. Some herbal practitioners recommend it for multiple sclerosis and sexual dysfunction.

Ginger

The roots of this tropical plant are used not only for cooking but for medicinal purposes as well. It is commonly used dried or fresh, or in tea, liquid extract, capsule, or tablet form. It is known to provide relief for nausea, stomachaches, and diarrhea. Likewise, it is used to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid symptoms, as well as joint and muscle pains. However, there is not much conclusive evidence from research that confirms the extent of ginger’s role in the treatment of these conditions. On the other hand, there are studies showing that ginger safely aids in reducing the severity of vomiting and nausea in pregnancy-related cases.

Bitter Orange

The peel and dried fruit are used in tablets, capsules, and extracts. The oil of the fruit, known as neroli, is applied on the skin as a remedy for fungal infections like athlete’s foot and ringworm. For centuries, bitter orange has been used to relieve stomach problems such as indigestion, nausea, and constipation. It may also be prescribed as a relief for nasal congestion, loss of appetite, weight loss, and heartburn.

Dong Quai

The root of this herb is used in tinctures or as an ingredient in herbal creams. Usually, it is used to provide female hormonal balance. It can be part of a treatment regimen intended to relieve discomfort associated with PMS or menopause including joint pain, cramps, constipation, and hot flashes.

Ginseng

When dried and used in teas, extracts, pills, and creams, the root of this herb unleashes ginsenonisides, components that are believed to be responsible for Ginseng’s healing properties. Its health benefits include increased stamina, better immunity, sharpened physical and mental performance, and better blood pressure. This is one of the Chinese herbs that is said to be a good remedy for hepatitis C, erectile dysfunction, and menopausal symptoms.

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