Healing Secrets of Traditional Chinese Herbs

Increasingly, Chinese herbs are gaining popularity in the Western world. Among the herbs mentioned below, five stand out for their remarkable medicinal and disease-preventive properties.

Star anise: This herb acts as a stimulant and diuretic, aiding in milk flow for new mothers.

Ginkgo nuts: Ginkgo biloba is utilized in Chinese medicine to treat pulmonary and heart diseases, as well as regulate urine emission. It promotes blood vessel dilation, enhances circulation (particularly in deep-lying arteries), and prevents blood clotting. Ginkgo extracts are widely used in Europe to enhance brain metabolism and protect cerebral membranes from oxidative damage. They also improve cerebral capillary flow and are employed to address sleep disturbances, depression, and symptoms of cerebral insufficiency in the elderly.

Da xue teng: This herb helps improve blood circulation and also purges blood toxins.

Jing jie: Known for its ability to induce sweating and reduce swellings and abscesses.

Xanthium fruit: This fruit, along with sweetgum fruit, expels wind and dampness and effectively alleviates rheumatic pains.

Tea: Black tea serves as a popular stimulant and can effectively treat diarrhea. Green tea, unlike black and oolong tea, undergoes a heating process with dry air or steam, preserving its cancer-fighting catechins. Drinking green tea reduces the risk of cancer, as demonstrated by the low cancer rates, particularly stomach cancer, among the Japanese who consume it regularly.

Huang lian: This herb possesses mild sedative properties and acts as an antitoxin, eliminating heat and dampness.

Shiitake mushroom: Lentinula edodes contains compounds that lower blood cholesterol levels and counteract the effects of highly saturated fats. It also stimulates the immune system to produce interferon, a potent antiviral and cancer-killing substance.

Dang-gui: Angelica sinensis is used in Chinese medicine to harmonize ch'i energy, enhance coronary circulation, and reduce arterial blood pressure. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory, pain-reducing, and tranquilizing effects on the cerebral nerves. Dang-gui is commonly employed in treating irregular or difficult menstruation, PMS, menopausal symptoms, and postpartum debility.

These herbs are incorporated in various amounts into Chinese prescriptions and are valued for their diverse medicinal properties.

Shanyao - Chinese Yam

Chinese Yam  or Shanyao played a crucial role in a historic battle. Two kingdoms were engaged in warfare, and the stronger kingdom had emerged victorious in the previous battle. The soldiers from the defeated kingdom sought refuge on a high mountain, hoping to evade their enemies. However, they soon found themselves surrounded by the victorious soldiers, completely cut off from any means of communication. The victorious army believed that the soldiers on the mountain would eventually surrender or perish from starvation.

To their surprise, despite being besieged for an entire year, not a single soldier from the mountain descended in surrender. Then, one fateful night, a mighty army suddenly emerged from the mountain and broke through the encirclement, achieving a decisive victory over the stronger kingdom.

The question arose: what sustained the soldiers on the mountain? As their provisions dwindled, they searched for alternative sources of sustenance and discovered an abundance of plants with substantial roots. They consumed these plants as their food, while their horses fed on the vines of the same plants. Since these plants grew on the mountain and possessed powerful medicinal properties within their roots, the soldiers referred to them as "mountain medicine."

In Chinese, these plants are known as Shanyao, commonly referred to as Chinese yam. They belong to the Dioscoreaceae family and have two scientific names: Dioscorea opposita Thunb. and Dioscorea batatas Decaisne. In pharmaceutical terms, they are referred to as Rhizoma Dioscoreae and Rhizoma Batatatis, with the tuberous root being the utilized part.

Chinese yam is characterized by its sweet flavor and neutral energy. It falls under the category of herbs that address deficiencies, specifically targeting the spleen, stomach, lungs, and kidneys. Its medicinal properties include strengthening the spleen and stomach, alleviating diarrhea, and tonifying the lungs and kidneys. It is commonly prescribed for conditions such as spleen deficiency with poor appetite, chronic diarrhea, seminal emission, vaginal discharge, and diabetes.

This herb played a vital role in sustaining the soldiers on the mountain during their time of seclusion and ultimately contributed to their victory over the stronger kingdom.

Three herbs with aphrodisiac properties

The following are three herbs known for their aphrodisiac properties: 

  1. Common Cnidium Fruit (also called Snake-Bed Seed or Schechuangzi),
  2.  Chinese Cynomorium (referred to as Yang Locker or Suoyang), 
  3. Epimedium Herb (known as Sexual Plant for Goats or Yinyanghuo).

In a small village, a peculiar skin disease had afflicted numerous individuals. The affected people experienced constant itchiness all over their bodies, accompanied by eruptions and rapidly spreading boils. This highly contagious disease had caused great concern among the villagers.

The villagers were aware of an herb that grew on a small island about ten miles away, which was believed to have curative properties for the disease. However, they also knew that the island was infested with poisonous snakes, which frequently slept on the herb. Consequently, most herbalists were too afraid to venture onto the island.

Despite the risks, one brave young man decided to take on the challenge. He packed a large bag of rice, rowed a boat to the island, but he never returned. Months later, another courageous young man attempted the same feat, only to meet the same fate.

As hope began to dwindle among the villagers, a third brave young man volunteered to go. Instead of heading directly to the island, he sought out a seaside temple where a reputed nun with expertise in snake control resided. The nun informed the young man that poisonous snakes had a fear of realgar wine. She provided him with a bottle of this wine, after which he embarked on his journey to the island.

Upon reaching the island, the young man discovered it teeming with venomous snakes. As he walked, he poured the realgar wine on the ground, causing the snakes to remain motionless. When he reached the desired herb, he had to move aside several snakes that were lying on it.

Finally, the young man returned triumphantly to the village with the herb, which successfully cured the villagers' strange skin disease. He named the herb "snake-bed seed" due to its utilization of the plant's seeds, while snakes frequently slept on it.

Another herb renowned for enhancing sexual functions is suoyang. Its Chinese name translates to "locking the yang," with "yang" referring to the male reproductive organ. Hence, the herb is used to regulate and control the actions of the penis.

Yinyanghuo is also effective in improving sexual functions. Its Chinese name means "sexual plant for goats," originating from a shepherd's observation of his highly active goats. He noticed their fondness for a particular plant, which he later named the "sexual plant for goats."

All three of these aphrodisiac herbs possess the ability to warm the kidneys and strengthen yang, making them suitable for treating conditions such as impotence, seminal emission, and premature ejaculation caused by kidney yang deficiency. However, there are differences among them: Firstly, suoyang is particularly effective in strengthening yang and promoting bowel movements, making it beneficial for treating constipation due to yang deficiency. Shechuangzi excels at eliminating dampness and parasites, allowing it to address itchiness in the genital area caused by dampness, as well as scabies, sores, and chronic tinea. Yinyanghuo can rapidly stimulate the production of sexual hormones and is also useful for alleviating lumbago, arthritis, and rheumatism in the legs.

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