About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Twenty Awesome Chinese Herbs You Can Find at the Grocery Store

Using Chinese herbs doesn’t have to be confusing.  You can tap into their incredible healing powers just by pushing your cart through the grocery store because many Chinese herbs are also foods. Here are twenty that are awesome, accessible, and effective:

-Ginger.  Yum!  This warm herb is incredibly effective for nausea and vomiting. It’s frequently used by people undergoing chemotherapy to control nausea. Ginger can also stop a cough, and can fight off a cold in its early stages.  The papery skin of the ginger root is used in Chinese medicine to drain edema (water swelling) and induce urination.

-Cinnamon is also a warm herb that can also help you fight off a cold.  Its warming effects are helpful for joint pain that gets worse in the cold weather.  Cinnamon has mild antibiotic and diuretic (drains water) effects.

-Scallions, when mixed with ginger in a warm broth, are perfect for the first stages of a cold.  Scallions are hot enough to drain nasal congestion and to induce sweating, which often heads off a cold before it starts.

-Mint is a cool herb that works well for colds and flu that are accompanied by a fever, headache, cough and sore throat.  Mint is also used to bring an early rash to the surface of the skin, so it can heal faster.

-Chrysanthemum flowers, which are usually found in tea is good for red, painful, dry eyes.  It can help with blurry vision, tearing, and mild dizziness.  There is some research that indicated this herb may be useful in lowering high blood pressure.

-Mung beans clear something called Summerheat, which is similar to heat exhaustion.  Boil the beans and drink the water to get rid of that blah nauseous feeling you get on the hottest, most humid days of the summer.

-Watermelon is also great for Summerheat.  In addition, it generates fluids and alleviates thirst.

-Aduki beans look like small pinto beans.  They can be used to clear heat and drain dampness through urination.  Dampness is a condition in which your body doesn’t metabolize fluids very well, and can cause problems like edema and urinary problems.

-While not usually found at the grocery store, hemp seeds are slightly oily and moistening, and are used in Chinese medicine for constipation.  So don’t throw those seeds away!

-Dried tangerine peel sounds gross, but it is used as a digestive aid for bloating, belching, nausea, and vomiting.  It is also effective for drying phlegm.  Put small pieces (1/2 inch or so) into tea.

-Tumeric, which is found in the spice aisle of the grocery store, can be effective for lowering cholesterol.

-Chinese wolfberries, also know as Goji berries are getting a lot of attention in health food circles as a miracle food.  In Chinese medicine, they’re used to nourish Kidney and Liver Yin, moisten the Lungs, especially when you have a chronic dry cough.  Goji berries are also used for eye and vision problems.

-Chinese dates are very nourishing in nature.  They’re used in Chinese medicine for overall weakness, shortness of breath, poor appetite, and for calming.

-You may think of walnuts as being the perfect chocolate chip cookie ingredient.  However, walnuts also strengthen your Kidney and moisten your intestines.  I recommend walnuts (not necessarily in cookies) to my patients who have constipation.

-Like walnuts, black sesame seeds also moisten your intestines are can be used for constipation.  They also nourish your Kidney and Liver, and can help with blurred vision, tinnitus, and dizziness.

-Look in the fungi section of the store for wood ear mushrooms.  They moisten your Lungs and are good for a chronic, dry cough.  Eat them in stir fried dishes.

-Got parasites?  Try pumpkin seeds.  They’re used in Chinese medicine for tape worms and round worms.

-Garlic is also used for parasites, especially hook and pinworms.  Its antimicrobial effects also make garlic a good choice for food poisoning from shellfish.

-Also found in the spice aisle, alum can be used as an external wash. For scabies, ringworm, damp and red rashes, and minor skin infections.

-Mulberry fruit looks a little like large black raspberries.  While not found in all grocery stores, most will carry mulberries when they’re in season.  They can be used to nourish Blood and Yin, as a way to treat dizziness, tinnitus, insomnia, premature graying of your hair, and constipation in the elderly.  Mulberries make a great addition to a fruit compote, which when combined with other fruits, is moistening in nature.

For information on the Chinese terms used above, check out Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health

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