Herbs have been part of every culture and medical tradition since the earliest humans walked the earth for treatment of everything from colds to digestive issues to depression. You may be surprised to learn that the herbs you have been regularly using to spice up your cooking also have amazing healing abilities. Try growing, eating, and healing with these four herbs that are superstars in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
1. Rosemary: Boost Your Alertness
Rosemary has been used as a brain tonic in Chinese traditional medicine for thousands of years. Rosemary contains volatile oils that help stimulate brain activities and increase brain alertness. One compound it contains, cineole, has been found to enhance the ability of rats to navigate mazes. Skip coffee and spice up your energy level with rosemary. Other benefits? Rosemary also aids in digestion and perks up your immune system. Steep it as a tea, use in your poultry dishes and soups – or just crush some up to fill your home with an energizing scent.
Growing Tips: Rosemary needs to live in a very sunny window and may even need supplemental light. It is sensitive to overwatering so keep it on the dry side.
2. Mint: Digest Well
Peppermint, spearmint and other mint-family plants are considered one of the most versatile herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. Peppermint has many well-documented properties: It increases healthy gastric secretions, relaxes the intestines, soothes spasms, settles the stomach, and alleviates gas. In a culture marked by poor diet and digestion –and the heartburn that comes with it – peppermint can be your best friend. Additionally, peppermint is rich in antioxidants that support good vision, and also cleanses your liver, helping to eliminate harmful toxins from your body. Steep peppermint as a tea and drink it a half an hour after mealtimes for untroubled digestion.
Growing Tips: Mint is an easy-to-grow herb that is invasive, so be sure to grow it in its own pot.
3. Sage: Keep Your Brain Young
Chinese traditional medicine has long used sage to help prevent the loss of mental function that comes with age. Sage has been found to increase oxygen to the brain cortex and to help improve concentration. Sage is easy on the digestion. Cook it up in soups and poultry dishes.
Growing Tips: Sage can be a bit difficult to grow. It is very sensitive to overwatering because it is more susceptible to mildew than other herbs.
4. Parsley: Protect Your Vision
Parsley is used in a Chinese folk remedy for cooling the liver and clearing the eyes. Parsley is packed with luteolin, and there is some evidence that this helps protect the eye from UV radiation damage and from glycation, a process in which sticky sugar molecules bind up protein, potentially damaging the retina. The age-old folk remedy recipe for vision protection is a juice blend of celery, peppermint and Chinese parsley, made fresh daily.
Growing Tips: Parsley doesn’t need very much sun, but it is a slow grower, so don’t expect a high yield.