Many Chinese herbs are known for their health and medicinal properties. The following are some of the common Chinese herbs used as ingredients in various dishes and medicines:
Chinese Angelica Root
The Chinese angelica root (dong quai) is best known for its healing and therapeutic properties in treating women’s reproductive disorders. It helps relieve menstrual cramps, regulate menstrual periods and lessen menopausal symptoms. It also helps dilate blood vessels and stimulate the relaxation of the uterine muscles.
Many Chinese medicinal shops and health shops sell Chinese angelica root in dried, unprocessed pieces and/or in capsule form. In its unprocessed form, this herb doesn’t require any preparation when used for cooking. It emits a woody aroma that develops into a strong flavor when cooked. This herb is also frequently combined with other herbs to treat conditions such as arthritis, asthma, allergies, inflammatory conditions and high blood pressure. It is usually steamed or simmered with a combination of chicken, mutton, pork, and some other herbs, depending on the nature of the ailments to be addressed.
The astragalus root (huang qi) comes from a plant of the pea family. With a mild licorice-like taste, this long, cylindrical, yellow-brownish plant root is typically dried and thinly sliced.
Astragalus herbs and extracts are commonly sold in drug stores. According to the Homemade Chinese Soup website, the health benefits of astragalus are legendary in China. Scientific studies say that this herb, like many plant roots, promotes blood circulation and stimulates the production of the anti-cancer protein called interferon. Aside from regulating cell growth and improving the body’s immune system, it also helps increase the body’s energy and resistance levels, making it greatly beneficial to individuals with lower resistance to illnesses due to stress and overwork.
Dried Lily Bulbs
Dried lily bulbs (bai he) come from the scales of the bulbs of a tiger lily flower. This Chinese herb is commonly used as ingredient in a number of dishes, including sweet congee, soups, and desserts. It can also be used in making tea, sweetened red bean paste, and fish paste.
Dried lily bulbs are known for its analgesic properties. Chinese medical practitioners typically use them to moisten the lungs to stop coughs and sore throats. They are also used as an ingredient in certain patent medicines, most of which are anti-flu medications.
“List of Chinese Herbs Used in Chinese Soups,” Homemade Chinese Soups.
“Astragalus Root,” Homemade Chinese Soups.
“Chinese Angelica Root Information,” Nutrasanus.
“Chinese Herbs,” Alternative Medicine Foundation.
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