Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Herbs for the Spleen (Dang Shen 党参)

Dang Shen has the properties of qi tonic, central stimulant, radioprotective, antistress, immunomodulating, and hypotensive, its recent and modern uses include high blood pressure, chronic anemia, and leukemia. Codonopsis is more commonly and traditionally used for general weakness, tiredness, lack of appetitie, chronic diarrhea, asthma, cough, palpitations, shortness of breath, thirst, fever, and diabetes.

Duck Stuffed with Eight Treasures(党参八宝鸭)

8g of Dang Shen
12g of Tian Dong
12g of Mai Dong
12g of lily bulbs
8g of lotus seeds
8g of fox nuts
15g of Job's tears
glutinous rice
1 duck

1. Gut, scald and rinse duck. Soak glutinous rice in water until soft. Drain.
2. Wash all the other ingredients and soak until soft. Dice finely.
3. Stuff glutinous rice and the ingredients from step 2 inside the duck. Seal the opening with thread.
4. Put the duck into a stewing pot. Add boiling water. Stew over low heat for 3 hours. Season with salt and serve.

Considered as the poor man's ginseng, codonopsis is also known as dangshen. It is frequently used as a ginseng substitute to treat many of the same conditions as ginseng. Its documented use dates back only about three hundred years, but it has since become a highly valued qi tonic of status equal to that of some ancient ones (such as astragalus, ginseng, and jujube). It is frequently used in combination with other herbs or in soup mixes to treat conditions due to Spleen and blood deficiencies as well as damaged qi. It is often used in "energy" formulas for its central stimulant effect as well as in formulas for boosting one's immune system.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Herbs for the Liver (钩藤)

Gou teng is an ivy-like plant, where hooks have been used for hypertension, infantile convulsion, and so on in oriental traditional medicine. The curved thorns on the stems are antispasmodic, carminative, febrifuge and hepatic.

Gou Teng Congee(钩藤粥)

19g of Gou Teng
38g of long grain rice
5 cups of water

1. Boil 1 cup of water. Add Gou Teng and boil for 2 minutes. Strain the liquid.
2. Cook long grain rice with 4 cups of water to make congee. Add the strained liquid from step 1. Season with salt, sugar and serve.

It is used in the treatment of infantile convulsions, dizziness, headaches, hypertension and apoplexy. The should not be overcooked. Medical functions include: sedative effect: lower the excitement of CNS helps treatment of epilepsy; lowering blood pressure effect (but does not cause peripheral vasodilation) but old stems without thorns do not possess the anti-hypertension effect; anti platelet coagulation.

Herbs for the Liver (天麻)

Tian Ma is sweet and warm in nature. It expels wind, cures palpitations, nourishes the liver and alleviates wind symptoms. In modern times, it is used to treat hypertension, dizziness, headache, and somatic paralysis to name a few. tian ma is also considered to be anti-epileptic, anti-arthritic with the abilities of calming emotions (and thus depression) and soothing pain.

Stewed Fish Head with Tian Ma(天麻炖鱼头)

15g of Tian Ma
8g of Chuan Xiong
12g of Fu Ling (茯苓)
4 slices of ginger
2 spring onions
12g of Qi Zi
1 Fish Head

1. Fry the fish head until a light brownish colour appears on both sides of the fish head.
2. Cut the fish head into 2 halves. Place all the ingredients into a stewing pot. Add 3 bowls of hot water and stew for 2-3 hours. Season with salt and serve.

The soup nourishes the liver, expels wind, alleviates anxiety and tonifies the blood. It is also used to treat dizziness, headache, nervous prostration and involuntary seizures.

Other Cooking Practices
1. For people with poor blood circulation in the liver, headache: add Gou Teng(钩藤), Shi Jue Ming(石决明) and Niu Xi (牛膝) to the recipe.

2. For people with pain and numbess due to rheumatism, weakness to the joints: add Qin Jiao (秦艽), Jiang Huo (姜活) and Sang Zhi (桑枝) to the recipe.

3. For people with weakness and numbness in limbs with cramps: add Chuan Xiong (川芎) to the recipe.

Be careful of buying fake Tian Ma. The best Tian Ma is big, thick, yellowish-white, firm and bright in colour. There should not be any cavity over the cut.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wild Watercress Soup

Wild Watercress soup is a delicious and nutritious recipe with the leaves available in spring and early summer. Watercress is rich in Vitamins A and C, iron, iodine and phosphorus. Watercress has been used as part of a holistic response to cancer of the lungs, larynx, oesophagus, prostate, bladder, uterus, stomach and intestines. It can be used in the treatment of:

  • skin problems
  • bronchitis
  • winter colds or flu
  • liver or kidney fatigue
  • sinusitis

However there are dangers: watercress may cause cystitis in some people and its medicinal use is not advised for those who have a delicate stomach or suffer from acidosis or heartburn. Excessive or prolonged use may lead to kidney problems. Some doctors advise against its use during pregnancy. Wild watercress often grows in streams inhabited by water snails which carry liver fluke. There is also the possibility of bacterial infection. Eating wild watercress in a raw state is not advised for this reason. Cooking the leaves for a short period removes the dangers. Also make sure that the watercourse feeding the stream in which the watercress grows is free from industrial or agricultural pollution.

Ingredients for watercress soup: Pick the watercress from clean water areas by pinching out the tops of the plants. Uprooting them will destroy this resource for everyone. Gather a good handful for each person who will be sharing this delicious spring treat. Other ingredients for a soup for 4 people are:

  • 2 large potatoes
  • generous knob of butter
  • dash of olive oil (to prevent butter burning)
  • stock cube (chicken or vegetable)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • single cream


  1. Cube the potatoes and cook them gently in the oil and butter until they are starting to soften
  2. Add boiling water and dissolve the stock cube. Simmer for 10-15 minutes
  3. Coarsely chop the watercress and add to the mix for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Liquidise and add in some single cream to taste. Add Salt and pepper to taste
  5. Use some purchased raw watercress leaves and pepper to garnish

This nutritious soup is warming when hot and a refreshing summer soup when served cold. Watercress is part of the Nasturtium family whose peppery leaves are well known for their nutraceutical value. In addition to containing high vitamin C contents and antioxidant Beta-carotene, it contains vitamin E and is a natural antibiotic. It is sometimes used in complementary medicine to speed up the body's detoxification processes.

Herbs for the Heart - A Jiao (阿胶粥)

A Jiao is sweet and neutral in nature. It tonifies the blood, stops bleeding and nourishes Yin. It cures spitting and blood in urine. It can also be used to treat anxiety due to Yin-asthenia, insomnia and cough.

A Jiao promotes red blood cell and haemoglobin regeneration. It enables the absorption and retention of calcium, increases blood pressure and eases dizziness.

A Jiao Congee(阿胶粥)

8g of A Jiao
3g of glutinous rice
3 cups of water
Rock sugar as seasoning

1. Sitr fry A Jiao in a wok without oil until light brown and crush.
2. Wash glutinous rice. Add water and cook to make congee. Add A Jiao and rock sugar. Cook until rock sugar totally dissolves. Serve.

It tonifies the blood and nourishes Yin. It cures dizziness due to blood-asthenia, insomnia, palpitation, cough due to Yin-asthenia and dryness.

Other Cooking Practices
1. For people with insufficient body fluid and blood due to heatiness; insomnia caused by restlessness: add Huang Lian (黄连) and Bai Shao (白芍).

2. For people with dry cough in lungs, dry cough with little phlegm; hemoptysis: add almonds (杏仁), Mai Dong (麦冬) and Wu Wei Zi (五味子).

3. For people with Anemia: melt 5g of A Jiao in hot water each time and drink 3 times a day.

A Jiao is oily and is not easily digested. People, with indigestion, nausea, diarrhoea and high blood pressure, should not drink this soup.

Herbs for the Heart - Shou Wu (首乌)

Shou wu has been famous for its ability to turn grey hair into “black hair (首烏)”. It’s also used in the treatment of hyperlipemia, neurasthenia, split personality, premature white hair, nerve injuries, skin wind rash, and constipation. Other functions include: treatment of eczema, sores, carbuncles, goiter, scrofula, inflammation of lymph nodes, spermatorrhea, vagina discharge, and vulvovaginitis.

Shou Wu can also be eaten to treat high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

Shou Wu, Red Date and Egg Tea(首乌红枣鸡蛋茶)


19g of Shou Wu
5 red dates
2 shelled hard-boiled eggs

1. De-shell red dates and rinse them.
2. Place all ingredients into a pot. Add 3 cups of water and boil the mixture. Add eggs. Reduce to low heat and cook for 30 minutes. Serve.

It nourishes the kidney and livers, blackens hair and defies aging.

Other Cooking Practices
1. For people with insufficient body-fluid due to blood-asthenia, constipation due to dryness of intestines: add Dang Gui and cannabis seeds (火麻仁) to the recipe

2. For people with Blood-asthenia, measles, rash and itchy skin: add Fang Feng (防风) and Jing Jie to (荆芥) the reciple

3. For people with Kidney, liver, Jing or blood-asthenia, tinnitus and dizziness; lower back pain with weakness in the knees, numbness in limbs; early appearance of gray hair: add Dang Gui, fried Di Huang, matrimony vine (枸杞)and Tu Si Zi (菟丝子).

4. For people with Schizophrenia: add Ye Jiao Teng (夜交藤) and red dates to the recipe.

People, who have loose stools, phlegm and cough, should not drink this soup.


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