Chinese Yam – Nourishing to Spleen, Lungs & Kidneys

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Chinese Yam (Dioscorea opposita) is called Shan Yao (山藥/山药) in Chinese. It is a spindle-shaped, thick, hard root or tuber up to 1 meter in length and is white on the inside. It is used as both a nutritious food and medicine because of its large amounts of mucilage, which is a thick and slimy substance that has a soothing effect on mucous membranes, linings of respiratory passages and stomach.

Chinese Yam Recipe & Healing Properties

Chinese medicine classifies Chinese yam as neutral and sweet. It serves to tonify and strengthen the spleen and stomach, strengthens lung yin and tonifies lung qi and stabilizes, tonifies, and binds the kidneys. It is used to treat weak digestion with fatigue and diarrhea, general weakness, frequent urination, decreased appetite, leukorrhagia (excessive vaginal discharge), premature ejaculation, the symptoms associated with diabetes, chronic wheezing (whistling sound caused by breathing difficulty) and coughing.

Traditional Chinese medicine uses Chinese yam to mix with other herbs to treat specific types of symptoms. There are no side effects associated with the use of Chinese yam, no indications of any interactions between Chinese yam and any drug or other herbal medicines so it is very safe to use. Fresh Chinese yam is commonly used in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisines – mostly in soups. However, in Chinese therapeutic cooking, it is also used to make tea, wine, congee, stir-fry’s, cake and dumplings. It can go with almost any cooking with meat or vegetables or can even be eaten raw. Fresh Chinese yam is inexpensive and is widely available in Asian grocery stores and health food stores. If fresh ones are not available, use dried ones instead but make sure you soak them for at least 30 minutes and then rub and rinse them a few times to make sure any preservatives are washed away.

Chinese Yam Recipe & Healing Properties

With winter just around the corner, nothing is better for you than making a fresh Chinese yam and mutton soup. It warms the body, soothes the lungs and stomach, and prepares your body to combat the cold harsh weather ahead. There are many recipes on our website www.nourishu.com for cooking with Chinese yam for health.

Fresh Chinese Yam and Mutton Soup

SYMPTOMS

Yang deficiency manifested as always feeling cold with cold hands and feet, lack of appetite and being underweight.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Promotes yang (fire energy) and nourishes the spleen to improve appetite, digestion and strengthens the body in general.

INGREDIENTS

Recipe makes about 6 servings

  • Mutton with bone (shoulder or thigh)- 640gm (cut up into pieces)
  • Fresh Chinese yam (shan yao) 淮山 – 200gm
  • Dried longan fruit – a handful
  • Ginger – 10 slices
  • Green Onion – 3 (finely cut)
  • Cooking wine – 2 spoonfuls

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Wash mutton and place in boiling water to cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove, rinse and drain.
  2. Peel Chinese yam, rinse and cut into slices.
  3. Warm 2 spoonfuls of oil in a pan and stir-fry mutton and ginger for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in 2 spoonfuls of cooking wine followed by a cup of water.
  4. Bring about 2.5 to 3 litres of water in a soup pot to a quick boil. Transfer everything in the pan to the soup pot.
  5. Add Chinese yam and longan fruit to the cooking and let it boil for another 10 minutes. In the meant time, remove foam until the water is clear. Then, reduce heat to medium and let it cook for another 2 hours or more until mutton is tender.
  6. Add salt to taste and sprinkle with green onion and serve.

Chinese Yam Recipe & Healing Properties

USAGE

Can be eaten often to strengthen the immune system, tonify lungs, kidneys, build the digestive system and prepare the body for winter.

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Would you like to learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine? Check out these downloadable info sheets available on www.learnchinesemedicine.com

The Spleen – Theory in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen – Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen – Dampness in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen – Patterns in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen Associations in Chinese Medicine – Poster

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