Some people think of Chinese herbs as exotic plants grown only in faraway Asia. Many of the plants used in Chinese Herbal Medicine can easily be grown in Western North Carolina, because of the temperate climate, similar to parts of China. Many common medicinal plants are as beautiful as they are useful. For example: Balloon flower (Platycodon), Peony, Buddleia (butterfly bush), and Forsythia.
Balloon flower root (Jie Geng) is traditionally used in prescriptions for lung afflictions including cough and excessive phlegm. We use Peony root (Bai Shao Yao/Chi Shao Yao) to move and nourish blood to treat conditions like skin rashes and menstrual disorders. Buddleia flower (Mi Meng Hua) is helpful for red, painful eyes, and light sensitivity. Forsythia seed capsule (Lian Qiao) is used to treat fevers and swollen lymph nodes.
Of course, some medicinal plants are not as pleasing to have in our yards and gardens. Honeysuckle, dandelion, and kudzu can cause gardeners much misery, but even the most annoying plants have their purposes. Honeysuckle flowers (Jin Yin Hua) are used to clear heat and is commonly used with Forsythia (Lian Qiao) in formulas for cold/flu symptoms. The Honeysuckle leaf and vine (Ren Dong Teng) is used for arthritic joint pain. Dandelion (Pu Gong Yin) is another toxin clearing herb that is used to treat eye conditions and mastitis. Kudzu root (Ge Gen) is an excellent herb for headaches and upper body pain. The kudzu flowers (Ge Gen Hua) can reduce alcohol cravings and minimize hangovers.
The next time you are admiring your garden ornamentals or pulling out the weeds, remember their healing energies. When we think of the countless patients helped by these plants over thousands of years of use in Chinese Herbal Medicine, they can be appreciated even more.
Use this great recipe for a lovely Springtime tea:
Spring Herbal Garden Tea
1 cup lemon balm leaves
1 cup mint leaves
4 tablespoons orange peel – grated
Mix the herbs and store in a glass jar. For each cup of tea, steep 1 tablespoon of herbal tea mix in boiling water.