Many spices and herbs have health and wellness benefits and adding them to your meals can enrich both your food and your health.
If you've visited our clinic recently you've probably noticed our newest addition--the herb wall! Although it may seem intimidating with all of the Traditional Chinese names on the bottles, most of the herbs that are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine are actually quite common in everyday cooking.
Most of the herbal formulas that we recommend to clients are combinations of many different herbs that work together to fix common problems, but the individual products can also be quite effective when used correctly. Using herbs (or in this case spices) can seem a bit intimidating at first, but here are a few basics that you probably have lying around that can do a lot more than just season your food.
Where do I start?
Here are some of the most common household spices and the benefits that they supply
Cinnamon: One of the most ancient spices still in use, the bark (Rou Gui) of the Cassia tree benefits circulation, and warms the body to expel cold and alleviate pain. Cinnamon is known to help support the body’s yang energy to stop diarrhea and even help with wound healing.
Ginger: Probably the most common seasoning in Chinese cooking, this root is used both fresh and dried. You may have the dried version in your cabinet as a powder. Dried ginger (gan jiang) is warming, aids in digestion, and boosts the qi for alleviating feelings of cold and fatigue.
Turmeric: Turmeric (jiang huang) is a root from a flowering plant related to ginger. It strongly moves the blood to unblock stasis, helping to ease arthritic, menstrual, and chest pain and to support liver health.
Clove: The penetrating aroma of clove (ding xiang) comes from the flower buds of a tree and when taken internally imparts a strong warming energy that boosts yang qi in the body. They can help with hiccups, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Pepper: If you can’t find any of the other spices mentioned, you probably at least have this one on hand. Peppercorn (hu jiao) is the fruit of a flowering vine that warms the core of the body, descends rebellious qi and dissipates phlegm to help with abdominal pain, vomiting, congestion, and epilepsy.
Mint: While many of these spices are considered warming. Mint leaves (bo he) are actually very strong in their ability to cool the body while promoting sweat and can ease symptoms of cold and flu, help with headaches and menstrual cramps.
Garlic: In addition to scaring away vampires, this plant bulb (da suan) that is technically considered a vegetable (like an onion), is warm and dispersing. It is known for its ability to kill parasites, relieve toxicity to treat food poisoning, and can help clean the blood and reduce clotting.
Thyme: Much more than a delicious pizza topping, this herb was used by ancient Greeks and Romans as a way to stimulate courage. The Chinese use these shrub leaves (bai li xiang) to tonify qi and warm the lungs. It has been used to treat cough and shortness of breath, and to strengthen immunity and digestion.
It’s good to know you’ve got some health resources right in your own spice cabinet, but it’s even better to know you’ve also got your local acupuncturist/herbalist on hand with even more tools to support your well-being. We’re here for you and look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!
Yours in health & wellness,
If you or someone you know is curious about incorporating herbs into their lifestyle, call or click to book our Herbal Therapy appointment and see which herbs are right for you