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Apr 27

The Number One Herb for Sore Throats You Can Have at Home

So, my favourite Chinese herbal tea is Chyrsanthemum (Ju Hua). I grew up on that, both in its highly-sweetened packaged form, which was such a treat for a kid, and in it’s more pure form, boiled by my Mum when we were getting “heaty” and getting mouth ulcers or biting the sides of our mouth or tongue.

My second favourite Chinese herbal tea is Honeysuckle (Jin Yin Hua), which was always used for medicinal purposes in our house. Any time someone in the family started to get a sore throat, my Mum would boil it, with a tiny bit of sugar (to help the medicine go down!) and down our hatch it would go. If the sore throat progressed, it never got to a stage where it felt like razor blades in your throat!

jin-yin-hua-herb

Honeysuckle is my immediate go-to now whenever I feel the inklings of a tickly throat. However, I’m less diligent than my Mum was and I’ll steep the flowers for 5 minutes rather than pull out the saucepan and boil them for 10 – 15 minutes. I would recommend boiling where possible but I find drinking 3 – 4 cups of the steeped tea works for me. So, if you’re as passionate about this herb as I am, read on and find out more, otherwise, just go to the Chinese grocery store and buy yourself a packet or three.

jin-yin-hua-tea

Honeysuckle, has a botanical name “Lonicerae Flos” and a Chinese Pinyin name “Jin Yin Hua”, which translates to “Gold Silver Flower”. When the flower first blossoms, they are silver white and then after a few days, they change to a golden yellow colour.

This herb has sweet and cold properties and it’s functions are to disperse heat, resolve toxicity and cool the blood. When you have a sore throat, maybe together with a headache and fever, consuming something cool feels soothing, so this is great news! With some other herb combinations, it’s helpful with hot, painful sores and swelling, particularly in the breast, throat or eyes. Or it can help with diarrhoea with blood or painful urinary dribbling.

From a Western medicine perspective, Jin Yin Hua is:

  • antibacterial
  • antifertility
  • antihyperlipidemic (fat-lowering)
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-pyretic (reduces fevers)
  • antiviral
  • cholagogic (inducing flow of bile)
  • detoxifying
  • haemostatic (stops blood flow)
  • hepatoprotective (protects liver)
  • immunostimulant

It really does have a lot of functions for assisting with imbalances in your body but it doesn’t mean that you can just have this herb and all your health problems are solved. Go and see a Chinese Medicine practitioner for individualised diagnosis of your condition, get treated with some acupuncture and be prescribed some herbs to bring your body back into balance. What can I say? I am biased. But for good reason!

Dec 30

Food for Summer

Summer is a Yang season, which means that lightness, brightness, liveliness, expansion, growth and creativity are the principles that hold true at this time of year. So to live in accordance with these natural principles to enhance your health, the lifestyle we live and the foods we eat are important. The last post focused on the Chinese Medicine summer lifestyle of waking early and being light-hearted (in Chinese Medicine, this is the season of the Heart) and this post will focus on its complementary component, the summer foods for good health!

Varied, many-coloured fruits and vegetables are the way to go this season and creating a visually appealing display of the food will enhance their benefits. The cooking style should be light, which means lightly sauteing at high heat, steaming and simmering foods quickly.
On particularly hot days, create a cooling atmosphere in which to eat, such as having a picnic under a tree or dining al-fresco on your back patio, and eat foods that are cooling. These include:

  • salads
  • sprouts (particularly mung, soy and alfalfa)
  • fruit (especially apples, watermelons, lemons and limes)
  • cucumber
  • tofu
  • flower and leaf teas such as chyrsanthemum, mint and chamomile

To help regulate your temperature, drinking hot drinks and having warm showers will cause sudden sweating and cool your body down. Also, having hot-flavoured spices will intially cause your body to become warmer but will actually disperse the heat from the inside to outside. Some of these foods include:

  • red and green hot peppers
  • cayenne red pepper
  • fresh ginger
  • horseradish
  • black pepper

As always, have these foods in moderation because if you have too much cooling food, it causes contraction in your body and you will hold in sweat and heat, and it will also affect your digestion. For this reason, it is also important to avoid icy drinks and cold foods such as ice-cream. If you have too much dispersing spices, it weakens your warming energy and being able to stay warm in the cooler seasons may be lost. Also avoid heavy foods such as meats, eggs and too many nuts, seeds and grains because they will create sluggishness.

If you find yourself with any combination of the following: red face, red eyes, a bright red tongue with a yellow coating, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, skin eruptions, nose bleeds, constipation, mouth ulcers or an unusually large appetite – it is possible that you have excessive heat in your body and following a diet as above, will help to cool you down!