TCM – 10 Traditional Chinese Medicine Superfoods
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and superfoods are a natural combination. The Chinese have been using foods and herbs as medicine for thousands of years. Superfoods are those foods and herbs that go beyond basic nutrition to provide the body with extraordinary benefits. It is food as medicine that can prevent or help heal conditions, such as heart disease.
Below are ten TCM superfoods.
TCM – Astragalus
This herb is known to help the heart and lungs. In China, it is sold in pharmacies as huang qi and is used to treat upper respiratory conditions. It is said to increase blood flow, lower blood pressure, and stimulate the liver, lungs, and urinary systems.
Other benefits of this herbs include aiding digestion, boosting the immune system, benefiting the heart and liver, and slowing the aging process. As an adaptogen, astragalus defends the body from the effects of stress.
TCM – Schisandra
Because schisandra has the taste of bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and hot, it is the fruit of five flavors. For thousands of years, TCM practitioners have used it to restore balance in the body. It is said to balance, jing, shen, and qi, the essential energies of life. Schisandra is also an adaptogen that helps the body handle stress. In TCM, it is used to improve liver, heart, and respiratory function.
TCM – Jujube Fruit
If you haven’t heard a lot about jujube fruit, you will soon. While used in TCM for thousands of years, jujube fruit is starting to trend in the West. Jujube fruit is a red date that is less sweet than other kinds of dates, having less sugar and calories. Jujube fruit is high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Jujubes contain 18 of the 24 amino acids, calcium, and magnesium.
In TCM, they are used to treat insomnia, anxiety, digestion, dry up excess mucus, and boosts energy. They are considered an adaptogen. Adaptogens are phytochemicals that help the body with stress. In China there’s a saying that goes, “Three jujubes a day keeps the doctor away and keeps you young.”[i]
Green tea is a favorite beverage in TCM for its health benefits. And many studies, show that it does provide many health benefits. Green tea contains antioxidant flavonoids, the amino acid L-theanine, and catechins, a type of polyphenol. Research shows the phytochemicals in green tea may lower the risk for heart disease, stroke, lower blood pressure, improve memory, reduce stress, encourage bone health, and prevent cancer. Green tea is one of the most research teas.
TCM – Fo-Ti
This herb is not common in the West, but in China it is used to support the liver and kidneys. Research backs up some of its other medicinal benefits, such as reduces anxiety, helps with sleep, and lowers high cholesterol, and helps with neurodegenerative diseases. One can add it to soups, black bean sauce, and into teas and supplements.
This fungus is considered one of the most potent TCM medicinal foods. Practitioners of TCM use them for respiratory infections, boost energy, improve lung function, clots the blood, treat kidney problems, and prevent heart disease. Because cordyceps are rare, laboratories have developed synthetic forms that are sold in supplemental form.
TCM – Rhodiola Rosea Root
In TCM, this little-known herb is a strength building herb as well as beneficial for improving concentration. Rhodiola rosea is also good for heart health and reducing stress because it is an adaptogen. The rhodiola root has more than 140 active phytochemicals. The two most active are rosavin and salidroside. Other benefits include fighting fatigue, reducing anxiety, helping with depression, and improve brain function.
TCM – Goji Berries
Goji berries are so super that they are on all most every superfood list, not just TCM. Goji berries are also called wolfberries and come from the Lycium berry family. In TCM, these berries are said to help eyesight, enhance the immune system, and slow the aging process. They are high in vitamin C, amino acids, beta-carotene, and the B vitamins.
In China, there are 171 medicinal seaweed species. Kelp and sargassum are two of the more popular ones. Some studies show that seaweed is helpful in preventing many chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Kelp is anti-inflammatory and is said to protect against some cancers. Kunbu has a function of reducing phlegm and remove heat from the body. Sargassum may treat microbial infections, cancer, and inflammation.
Royal jelly is the special food for the queen in the beehive. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses royal jelly for colds, flu, and sore throats. It aids digestion and is known to support the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Wound healing, slowing the aging process, and supporting reproductive health are other uses of royal jelly in TCM.
Never use herbs as medicine without talking with your doctor first. Some herbs can interfere with medications. Also, people with medical conditions, pregnant women, and nursing mothers should consult with their physician before using any food or herb as medicine.
This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnosis, treat, or prevent any medical conditions or recommend any therapy or treatment.
3 jujubes a day keeps the doc away in China (October 10, 2014). Retrieved from https://cn.hujiang.com/new/p652456/.
Astragalus. Retrieved from https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/herbs/astragalus/.
Kirkpatrick, Kristin, MS, RD, LD. Beyond Superfoods: 6 Health-Boosting Teas. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/beyond-superfoods-6-health-boosting-teas-infographic/.
Nouinou, Ayub. The top Chinese Superfoods (July 16, 2014). Retrieved from https://www.theworldofchinese.com/2014/07/the-top-chinese-superfoods/
Ruggeri, Christine, CHHC. 15 Top Chinese Herbs & Superfoods to Boost Health (October 14, 2018). Retrieved from https://draxe.com/top-chinese-herbs-and-superfoods/.
Walle, Gavin Van De MS, RD. 7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea (March 3, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/rhodiola-rosea#section4.
Wolfe, David. Schizandra Fruit: 10 Health Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.davidwolfe.com/schizandra-health-benefits/.
[i] 3 jujubes a day keeps doc away in China, October 10, 2014. Web.