Jellyfish - For Brain & Heart Health

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

The primetime commercial that I have been seeing lately describes the proteins in jellyfish to be the miracle ingredient to help people fight age related cognitive decline. Normally our brain produces calcium binding proteins of its own, but as we get older, these reduce in number. This is a problem as the proteins are used in order to regulate the amount of calcium in the brain cells and this can then slow down various brain functions. The research found jelly fish to contain a lot of calcium binding proteins which improve memory. Dried jellyfish contain collagen which is helpful for the treatment of arthritis and visible signs of aging. There are beauty products now using jellyfish as one of the key ingredients. Now that with all the scientific research behind the various health claims, I am hoping that more people will come to know about jellyfish. Instead of just running out to buy the supplement, I strongly suggest you to go straight to the real food and adopt it as part of your regular diet. It will certainly make your meals more interesting and palatable.

Jellyfish is one of Asia's most popular foods. It has certainly been our family’s favourite and we used to fight over it when we were young. Jellyfish are actually not fish because they have no fin and backbone structure as in any other fish. They are typified as free-swimming marine animals consisting of a gelatinous umbrella-shaped bell and trailing tentacles. The bell can pulsate for locomotion, while stinging tentacles can be used to capture prey. Jellyfish are about 95% water with only about 5% of proteins. The interesting thing about jellyfish is that they are almost immortal. Any small pieces of tentacles separated from the body can grow back into full size jellyfish rapidly. The fast production of cells is ideal for humans to stay young!

Chinese medicine has been familiar with the benefits of jellyfish for centuries and has been using them for clearing heat, eliminating congestion, lubricating intestines, clearing sputum, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and for dilating blood vessels to prevent hardening of the arteries. Jellyfish is highly recommended for people who are overweight and have problems with heart health.

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Jellyfish are dried before being sold because they can spoil easily after being caught. When preparing jellyfish, they are soaked in water for hours to get rid of salt and to get rehydrated. Then they are cooked by boiling in water for a few minutes which will turn them crunchy but rubbery and cause them to shrink a lot in size. They need to be soaked again in cold water for a few hours (best to keep in the fridge overnight) which will inflate and soften them. Jellyfish can then be chopped into small pieces (if not already cut) to either eat cold as an appetizer or to add to other dishes.

Jellyfish as an appetizer or in a salad is very popular in Chinese cuisine and banquets. They are actually very easy to make. You just need to season the jellyfish with a little vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. You can serve it as is, or serve with some fermented vegetables such as cucumber and sprinkle a little roasted sesame seeds on top. Adding jellyfish to a stir-fry at the very last minute will add crunchiness and authenticity to any dish. Please search our website, NourishU for other recipes using jellyfish for many therapeutic benefits.

The following is a delightful jellyfish salad recipe which is my personal favourite for the summer months. I hope you and your family will enjoy it as much as I do. Bon appétit!

Water Chestnut and Jellyfish Salad

Jellyfish Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Symptoms

Cough with phlegm

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS:

Clear cough with phlegm and detoxify lungs.

Ingredients

  • Water chestnut 馬蹄 – 10
  • Dried Jellyfish 海蜇 – 160gm
  • Celery 西芹  - 100gm
  • Soy sauce  生抽
  • Sesame oil 麻油
  • Sesame seeds

Jellyfish Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Directions

  1. Soak jellyfish until soft, rinse clean and shred thinly (if it has not been cut). Put jelly fish in boiling water to cook for a few minutes. Remove and rinse and put in cold water (keep covered and inside the fridge) to soak for a couple of hours until becoming soft again. Put in strainer to drain away water.
  2. Peel water chestnut and shred thinly.
  3. Wash and peel celery and shred thinly.
  4. Put all three ingredients in a bowl and mix in soy sauce and sesame oil to taste. Put ingredients to plate and sprinkle in sesame seeds on top to serve.

Jellyfish Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Usage

No limitations.

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Jellyfish - For Brain & Heart Health : Chinese Medicine Living


Lily Bulb – for Soothing Lungs and Mind

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Lily flower has long been used by many cultures as a symbol of tranquility, peace and prosperity. The Roman Catholic Church used lily flowers to symbolize the Virgin Mary and to represent its own state of independence and prosperity. The Chinese culture uses lily bulb to make desserts for festivities and weddings to symbolize good luck and longevity of marriages.

Chinese medicine classifies the lily plant as bitter in taste, mild in nature, and beneficial to our hearts and lungs. The flowers are dried and used in cooking stews or soups. The more potent scale leaves of the bulb have a whitish surface, sharp at the tip and broad at the base, hard and brittle in nature and with a thin margin. The healing properties of lily include moisturizing the lungs, relieving cough from lung-dryness, clears heart-fire and tranquilizes the mind. Dried lily bulbs are commonly used in herbal formulas for promoting lung health, treating yin-deficiency of the heart which manifests as irritability, insomnia, dreaminess, palpitation and absent-mindedness, and promotes vital fluid and improves skin complexion.

Lily Bulb Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

In recent years with the increased availability of fresh lily bulbs, they are appearing more in the menus of Chinese fine cuisine.  The fresh scale leaves can be eaten raw as fruit or sprinkled on top of cold dishes or salad. Using fresh lily bulbs in stir-fry or congee is popular for increasing the health value of the dishes. Since over cooking fresh lily will dissolve most of it, it should only be added at the very last minute. When using lily in soups and desserts, they should not be cooked for more than two minutes.  For treating the very young and old with lily, steaming it for about 10 minutes will turn it into a paste, making them easy to both eat and digest.   

The traditional Chinese wedding dessert uses lotus seeds and lily bulbs for good luck. It is because saying the two ingredients together sounds like saying ‘Hundred Years Good Union’. The recipe is delicious and is better using fresh lily bulbs instead of dried ones. The following is the recipe. It is very simple and easy to make, tasty and healthy for the whole family, therefore is commonly served at home and in family restaurants all year round.

Red Beans, Lotus Seeds and Lily Bulb Dessert

Lily Bulb Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

 

Therapeutic Effects

Promotes blood and improves circulation for better skin and complexion, calming the heart energy for better sleep, promotes vital fluid for soothing lungs, lowers internal heat and promotes yin balance.

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • Red beans – 1 cup
  • Lotus seeds –1 cup
  • Fresh lily bulb (bai he) –  one bag (of 2 or 3)
  • Mandarin orange peel – 1 piece (optional)
  • Organic/natural sugar –  to taste

1.   Soak beans and lotus seeds for about 2 hours and rinse clean.

2.   Discard outer leaves of lily bulb which are brown and dirty. Cut out brown tips and base of inside leaves, separate them and rinse clean.

3.   Soak orange peel for 30 minutes. Use a small knife to scrape out and discard the white membrane from the back side of the peel (to get rid of the bitter taste). Rinse clean.

4.   Put beans and lotus seeds in a pot with 8 to 9 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and lower heat to medium and cook until the beans and seeds are tender and turn into a thick soup (about 1.5 hours). Add boiling water to the cooking if necessary.

5.   When ready, add sugar to taste and wait until the sugar is dissolved. Add lily and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and serve.

Lily Bulb Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Usage

No restrictions.

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Acupuncture Mug : Chinese Medicine Living

Lily Bulb – for Soothing Lungs and Mind


Chinese ‘A’ Lettuce – Packs a Punch of Nutrients

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Lettuce is one of the most common leaf vegetables for salads. There are many different types of lettuce and they are characterized by large, tender leaves, and are usually light green in color.

Lettuce is low in calories and is approximately 90% water. It has little fiber but has some minerals including potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium; anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and E, vitamin K, folate as well as many vitamins of the B complex. The milky latex, found mainly in the stems contains a mixture of active principles which have been used for centuries for its medicinal virtues. It has extraordinary “sedative” and “painkilling” properties. Unfortunately lettuce stems are usually unused in western cuisine.

Asparagus Lettuce Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Therefore the healthy properties of lettuce are: anti-anemic with high amounts of chlorophyll and iron for the synthesis of hemoglobin in red blood cells; anti-oxidant and prevents premature aging with beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E; promotes bone health with vitamin K and calcium; relieves constipation by stimulating the function and motility of the intestinal tract; relieves cough and asthma with anti-cough agents; hydration with high water content; sedation and treats sleep disorder with high B vitamins content.

Taiwan has been exporting a special kind of lettuce known as ‘A’ lettuce for years and it has been very popular among Asian cuisines. The ‘A’ is in short form for asparagus. The plant is much taller than other types of lettuce. It has very a long stem and long sword like leaves that are light green in color. The leaves grow on top of the stem and are cut off at the base and sold separately from the stem. They can be easily found in most Chinese grocery stores now. The leaves and the stems are used lightly cooked but the stems can also be eaten raw with salads. The stems are known to offer a lot more nutrients than the leaves.

Asparagus Lettuce Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

The following is a recipe to inspire you to eat more of the ‘A’ lettuce stems. You can add more ingredients to the stir-fry such as meat or seafood to make the dish more interesting. The stems are very crispy even after cooked and are mild in taste and very refreshing for summer dishes.

Stir-fried Chinese Asparagus Lettuce Stems with King Mushrooms

Asparagus Lettuce Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

INGREDIENTS

(2 to 3 servings)

  • ‘A’ lettuce stems – one or two
  • King mushrooms – a few
  • Carrot - half (optional for color and additional health benefits)
  • Minced ginger – one spoonful
  • Minced garlic – one spoonful
  • Oyster sauce – one spoonful (optional)
  • Potato starch – one tea spoonful (optional)
  • Sesame oil – one spoonful (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • Cut out skin of stems lengthwise, rinse and slice into thin slices.
  • Rinse mushrooms and cut into slices.
  • Cut carrot into thin slices.
  • Put carrot in a stir-fry pan with a little water to pre-cook for about 4 minutes or to desire softness, remove and keep aside.
  • Heat pan with a little oil and add half of the minced ginger and garlic. Stir and add the mushroom slices to cook for a few minutes on both sides. Sprinkle in a little salt and black pepper to taste and put aside.
  • Heat pan again with a little oil and put in the remaining ginger and garlic. Add stem slices and carrot and stir for a couple of minutes. Add a few spoonful of water to cook stem slightly to water is mostly evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in mushroom and oyster sauce. Mix starch with two spoonful of water and sesame oil and stir-in for a minute to combine the flavors and then put everything to plate.

Asparagus Lettuce Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

USAGE

No restrictions

**MORE INFO

Check out this article about the amazing health benefits of asparagus from well-being secrets! - 31 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Asparagus


Horse Chestnut for Hemorrhoids

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Nobody likes to talk about hemorrhoids. Frankly, I would be a little worried if you DID like to talk about hemorrhoids. And what is worse than talking about them, is having them. And many people do. The thing about hemorrhoids is that many people suffer in silence when there are many things that can help, and that is what I want to talk about.

Hemorrhoids

Ok, lets get the gory bits out of the way. What is a hemorrhoid? A hemorrhoid is literally a varicose vein located in the anus and/or rectum. There are two types, internal and external depending on their location. It is thought that about 50% of people will have hemorrhoids by the age of fifty, some say it is 50% by the age of thirty. Because those don't sound like very good odds, the rest of this article should be very useful. :) But first, lets talk about other things that can happen in that general vicinity according to Chinese medicine so that you know the difference and can proceed with appropriate treatments. Hemorrhoids are also called piles.

Hemorrhoids : Chinese Medicine Living

Anal Prolapse

Anal prolapse (also called rectal prolapse) is defined as a condition in which the rectum, which is the lower end of the colon, just above the anus, becomes stretched out and protrudes outside of the anus. The prolapse is often due to weakening of the sphincter muscle and can result in leakage of stool and/or mucus. The condition appears to be more common in women but does occur in both sexes. In Chinese medicine, anal prolapse is often caused by a deficiency of spleen qi, causing it to "sink". The prolapse of other organs, such as the bladder, uterus and vagina are also often due to sinking of spleen qi.

Anal Fissure

Anal fissures are cracks or tears in the anus or anal canal. They can be acute of chronic. In Western medicine they are seen to be largely caused by trauma, but in Chinese medicine they are mostly a result of deficiency (deficiency of blood causing dryness in the intestines) and fire and damp heat.

Anal Fistula

An anal fistula is a small tunnel that develops between the end of the bowel (the anal canal) and the anus. In Western medicine, surgery is often needed, but in Chinese medicine they can be treated successfully with Chinese herbs and acupuncture. The causes in Western medicine are that fistula's are often the result of an abscess (a collection of puss) that has not been treated properly and has burst. Fistulas are also common in people with conditions that affect the intestines like Crohn's disease, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and diverticulitis. 30% of HIV patients develop anal fistula's, probably as a result of the body's immune system attacking the body. Fistula seems to be more common in women than men, although both are affected.

In Chinese medicine, anal fistula's are a result of heat, either from an excess or deficiency, or from deficiency cold.

anal fissure / fistula : Chinese Medicine Living

Anal Ulcers

These are literally ulcers located near or on the anus. In Chinese medicine, they are due to deficiency of the lungs, spleen and kidney or to toxic heat.

Horse Chestnut

For years whenever I have a patient who has varicose veins, or is suffering with hemorrhoids (and for every person who has told me they are suffering with hemorrhoids, I suspect there are ten that don't) I recommend they take horse chestnut. Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is an herb that comes from the horse chestnut tree and is used to help build up the walls and elasticity of the veins. It also increases circulation and is an anti inflammatory. The flowers and seeds of the horse chestnut tree have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicines, and is still a common treatment for disorders of the vessels, circulation problems and arthritis for its anti-inflammatory properties.

horse chestnut for hemorrhoids

Horse Chestnut for Hemorrhoids

Horse chestnut contains several chemical compounds called saponins, the most potent of which is called aescin. Aescin has a very strong anti-inflammatory effect and is why horse chestnut is used to treat varicose veins (which is what hemorrhoids are), arthritis and rheumatic conditions and is used to reduce inflammation after trauma or surgery. Horse chestnut is used to treat hemorrhoids because it strengthens the walls of the veins, increases their elasticity, reduces inflammation and prevents the breakdown of smaller capillaries.

Horse chestnut can be taken orally or applied topically. The recommended dose for oral use of horse chestnut when treating hemorrhoids is 300mg twice a day. Horse chestnut contains esculin which is toxic when eaten raw, so be careful to look on the bottle of your horse chestnut to see that esculin has been removed. This is a standard practice to make sure it is safe.

Orally: take at least 40mg of horse chestnut three times a day (the recommended dose for treating hemorrhoids is 300mg twice a day).

Topically: Many hemorrhoid cremes and ointments contain horse chestnut extract. Although this will help, you want to make sure that there is no bleeding as the horse chestnut may increase the bleeding temporarily.

 

Hemorrhoids And The Spleen

So, what do hemorrhoids have to do with the spleen? Well, by now you should know that almost everything has to do with the spleen!! The spleen, in Chinese medicine, is responsible for the body's holding function. This means the ability to hold organs in place is determined by the spleen's energy. Things like prolapses, prolapse of uterus, bladder, vagina, hernias and yes, hemorrhoids (this is literally a prolapse of the anus) are governed by the spleen. I often see these problems with patients who have chronically deficient spleen's. There is a lot we can do to strengthen the spleen, and you can read about that here - Loving Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine. :)

Horse Chestnut Leaves : Chinese Medicine Living

The leaves of a horse chestnut tree - so pretty!

Other Helpful Things

Many people think that if you have hemorrhoids that you just have to live with them, or that surgery may be the only option. Not so! There are other things that you can do to help heal your hemorrhoids.

  • Eat a clean diet with lots of fruits and vegetables (but go easy on the fibre, as this can make hemorrhoids worse)
  • Stay away from foods that cause inflammation like processed foods and sugar
  • Exercise to keep things moving through your digestive tract - this will make sure that nothing sits in your intestines too long which will aggravate your hemorrhoids
  • Drink plenty of water - this will help with constipation which is a major cause of hemorrhoids
  • Don't rush when you poop! Take your time and relax. Don't strain, give yourself the time to poop and don't rush.
  • Using probiotics with help keep everything in the digestive tract healthy and happy.
  • Taking supplements like horse chestnut will help strengthen the walls of your veins and combat inflammation.
  • Be mindful! This is the first step to healing any problem. :)

 

Horse Chestnut Tree Flower : Chinese Medicine Living

The flowers of a horse chestnut tree - beautiful! 

Hemorrhoids are a very common problem, but you don't have to suffer. Diet, exercise and supplements can really help to improve hemorrhoids and give you a better quality of life. With these simple steps instead of dreading a bowel movement, you can have everything move freely with no discomfort, and we all deserve that. :)