There are 10 kinds of Chinese anti-inflammatory herbs that can be prepared at home. They can be used in making medicines, preparing meals, or making tea. These herbs are regarded as being anti-cold. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners also recommend them for eye care and gastrointestinal care. The variety of benefits that the following herbs offer according to TCM is immense.
Known as the ‘little miracle worker’ in the pharmacy, honeysuckle is a sweet, slightly cold herb that can be found in around 30 percent of cold and flu prescriptions.
“The flowers and fruits are better for the general public, as they can be brewed in hot water or boiled to bring out their medicinal effects, unlike the roots and stems, which need to be boiled for a longer period of time,” said Nicco Lin, director of the Ideal Chinese Medicine Clinic. For example, honey and honeysuckle can be used to make a flower tea, which is ready to drink in a few minutes. And a small spoonful is enough for each serving.
Honeysuckle is good for sore throats, itchy skin, and other inflammatory conditions. Drinking honeysuckle tea when you are cold and feel you are about to catch a cold will protect your throat and not aggravate the inflammation in your body.
Rinse your mouth with honeysuckle water or drink it directly to prevent periodontal disease and improve inflammation of the gums. For children with prickly heat and itchy skin, use a higher concentration of honeysuckle water to rub on the affected areas.
As honeysuckle tea is slightly cold, it is recommended to drink it after meals. Women who are menstruating and those who are usually prone to stomach pains should not drink it on an empty stomach. It is not suitable for people with weak stomachs or cold hands and feet, but it can be consumed whether you have a cold or do not have a cold.
Slightly bitter, chrysanthemum is a bit colder than honeysuckle and has the ability to clear the liver and dispel wind-heat. Chrysanthemum can help lower blood pressure and improve chronic eye inflammation and allergies, such as dry eyes and fever. People who use 3C products and have dry eyes can drink chrysanthemum tea.
Modern medicine has also found that chrysanthemum has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it has the effect of regulating immune function.
3. Goji berries
The delightful red color of wolfberry can nourish the liver and kidneys, brighten the eyes, and improve age-related tinnitus, making it suitable for the elderly, the physically weak, and those with excessive eye problems.
Goji berries are sweet and mild in flavor, but they are slightly warming, so use in moderation. For tea, use 4 or 5 pieces, and for soup, 10 to 20 pieces should be sufficient. Nicco cautions: “If you take too many wolfberries, you will get a little bit of fire, and the fire will be concentrated in the eyes, and there are a lot of chronic eye infections nowadays, so you should be careful with the quantity.” She cited a case of a young child who drank chicken soup with ginseng and goji berries and ended up with a needle eye because the fire in the eye caused inflammation.
Goji berries are often paired with chrysanthemum in a ratio of usually more chrysanthemum to goji berries or equal parts of each in winter.
However, the exact amount can be fine-tuned depending on how you feel after drinking it. When more chrysanthemum is put in and you feel sick to your stomach or even have diarrhea after drinking it, it may be on the cold side and you need to reduce the amount slightly. If you feel a dry throat, a broken mouth, or swollen gums after drinking it, increase the number of chrysanthemum flowers.
4. Red dates
Red dates are also known as the “fruit of the spleen,” as they are a blood tonic and have the ability to regulate and protect the stomach and intestines. Red dates can harmonize all medicines and are commonly found in many herbal prescriptions.
Both red dates and wolfberries are fruit herbs, but red dates are sweeter and calmer and are more widely used, often in desserts such as red date cakes and jujube cakes. If you eat too many, add 2 or 3 to a cup of tea or 10 to 20 to a soup. If you are prone to flatulence, add a smaller amount.
5. American ginseng
American ginseng, also known as pink ginseng, has a protective effect on the respiratory tract, boosts the spirit, and nourishes vital energy. It is recommended to be taken during the day before 3 p.m., as drinking it at night may affect your sleep.
“Because of its cooling nature and tonic but not irritating nature, American ginseng is suitable as a health herb for general wellness. It is easy for people to take too many herbal meals in one go, and if they use other types of ginseng, they can easily become inflamed and even have their blood pressure rise due to overconsumption,” notes Nicco Lin.
Ginseng is suitable for stewing and can also be used in tea, with about three to five slices for a serving. The best way is to heat it in a covered cup over water. Although it is very fragrant when cooked directly, some of the volatile components of ginseng will be lost. For stewing with chicken thighs or ribs, it is advisable to cook the meat first before adding the ginseng over water or choose smaller pieces of meat to cook directly with the herbs over water.
Both young and old ginger are known for their ability to relieve sweating and vomiting, warming the lungs, and relieving cough. When the temperature drops, when you get wind chill, or when you get caught in the rain, you can drink ginger tea if you feel like you are about to catch a cold if you are a little chilly but your throat is not yet sore, but not if you already have a sore throat or fever. Women with a colder constitution can drink ginger tea before or after their menstruation to dispel the chill.
Ginger is a regular fixture in the kitchen and is ideal for cooking colder foods, such as seafood. However, too much ginger acts as a stimulant and can also burn, so it is not suitable for women who stay up late or suffer from a dry mouth.
Angelica sinensis is sweet, pungent, and warm in nature, and is used to nourish the blood and regulate menstruation, nourish muscle, invigorate the blood and relieve pain, and moisten the bowels and open the bowels.
After menstruation, women can have a soup with angelica or chicken soup with angelica. People with malnutrition, cold limbs, pale complexion, dizziness, and low blood pressure are also suitable to eat Angelica. However, Angelica is warm in nature and is not suitable for people with acne and dry mouth.
Angelica cannot be brewed and needs to be stewed. A chicken leg with 1 or 2 slices of angelica can be cooked to make a chicken soup with angelica for one person. According to Nicco Lam, it is not suitable for the whole family to take the same remedy because of the difference in age and body type. For example, women with cold hands and feet in the family will improve their health, while older people may have higher blood pressure, so a meal for one person is more appropriate.
8. Job’s tears
Job’s tears are slightly cold, sweet and light, and can help to remove dampness and strengthen the spleen. It can be eaten when you have diarrhea, but you should stop eating it if you are constipated, as your body is low on water and can no longer drain it.
It is not suitable for cooking with rice as it will easily cause a digestive burden, but it is suitable for cooking with red beans and green beans to make soup. The most important thing is that it is not easy to get rid of the problem.
9. Yellow aconite
Sweet in taste and slightly warm in nature, it settles the qi, boosts the immune system, improves mental health, and prevents colds. It is suitable for people who are weak, often have colds, and feel tired easily.
It is not suitable for people who have a cold, or who are prone to fire, such as those who stay up late, have a dry mouth, a broken mouth, or a face prone to acne.
Yams are mild in nature and can nourish the spleen and stomach, and benefit the lungs and kidneys. Yams enhance appetite, improves digestion, and strengthen the body. They are also suitable for elderly people who have a sore back and knees and are prone to nocturia.
Rootstalk yams are high in starch and are suitable for making soups or congees, such as Sishen soup and yam pork rib soup.
All the above herbs can be stored in the fridge and taken out to cook when needed.