Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Herbal help: 4 plants for health No ratings yet.

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Feeling unwell, but hate off-the-shelf medicines? Try these four herbal remedies.

Asian herbs are part of a centuries-long tradition that employs natural means to strengthen the body against ailments. From gout to schizophrenia, several plants have been scientifically proven to help.

Developed in China over two millennia ago, the study of herbology is equal parts legend and history. Although modern-day research has dispelled several myths, some herbs contain beneficial stimulants and antioxidants. Others are therapeutic when taken in specified doses.

Here are four herbal remedies to keep on your shelf:

1) Ginseng

Herbal help: 4 plants for health

Known as Ren Shen (人参) in Mandarin, the stubby look of herbal root belies its true value as a near-miraculous panacea. Widely consumed as an energy booster across China, Japan, and Korea, Ginseng also aids in reducing blood sugar and lowering cholesterol levels in menopausal women.

Accordingly, the pharmacological effects of Ginseng can be traced back to ginsenoside, an active ingredient found in both Asian and American variants of the root. Extracts of this herbal component have been found to be capable of raising mental performance especially when imbibed with the dried leaves of the Gingko Biloba, one of the oldest plant species on Earth.

How to consume:

  • Dried Ginseng tea packets can be found at most Traditional Chinese Medicine shops.
  • Alternatively, you can boil Ginseng with chicken for a hearty and nutritious soup!

2) Ginger

Herbal help: 4 plants for health

Ginger (姜) is an ingredient that is frequently added to East Asian cuisine for a fiery touch. Taste aside, it is also well-regarded for promoting digestion, and can help prevent colorectal cancer when consumed regularly. Other benefits of a ginger-based diet include the reduction of nausea-related conditions, such as morning sickness and post-chemotherapy vomiting.

Ginger consumption can also help in relieving the physical symptoms of respiratory illnesses, including asthma and the common cold. This is directly attributable to the expectorant qualities of ginger as well as its ability to induce smooth muscle relaxation in the airway.

How to consume:

  • Add ginger slices to your tea or a cup of hot water.
  • In cooking, ginger can reduce the strong scent of gamey meat or fish.

3) Star Anise

Herbal help: 4 plants for health

Obtained from Illicium Verum, a tree native to the region, the star anise fruit is commonly featured in Asian cuisine due to its rich fragrance. It also contains a special component called Shikimic acid. This was one of the ingredients in Tamiflu, a drug widely-used to combat the avian flu pandemic.

The star anise has been used for its antioxidant effects and even as flavouring for toothpaste.

How to consume:

  • Star anise is an essential spice for cooking Biryani, Masala, and other Indian dishes.
  • Alongside cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds, star anise is used to create five-spice powder that is popular among the Chinese.

4) Cinnamon

Herbal help: 4 plants for health

Last but not least, Cinnamon is a spice that has been recognised for its antiseptic properties. Made from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees, it was widely sold as a luxury good by Arabian and European spice traders until the end of the 18th century.

Cinnamon is now used in natural hand sanitizers due to its effectiveness at killing E. coli and other common strains of harmful bacteria.

How to consume:

  • Add cinnamon powder to baked goods or hot drinks for a sweet and spicy tinge.
  • Cinnamon can be combined with coconut milk and other spices to create smooth curry concoctions.

While Asian herbs are part of a larger medical tradition that includes proper diets, massage therapy and regular exercise, they occasionally take on the role as miracle cures in Chinese folklore.

We won’t go so far to say they are magic. But these herbs may be good to have on your shelf for their proven benefits and diverse range of flavours – minus the exorbitant cost of certain modern day cure-alls.

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