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Monday, July 02, 2007

Mung Bean

The mung bean, also known as green gram or ludou (Chinese) is the seed of Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczek var. ratiata [Phaseolus radiatus L.; P. mungo L.; P. aureus Roxb.] (Family Leguminosae). Mung bean possesses detoxicant, heat dispersing, diuretic, and hypolipemic properties. The most common traditional uses of mung bean include heat rash, prickly heat, summer heat syndrome (restlessness, irritability, thirst, etc.), heatstroke, food and drug poisoning, "toxic" conditions (erysipelas, carbuncles, boils, swellings, sores, etc.). Modern internal uses include agricultural and heavy metal poisoning, mumps, dysentery, enteritis, and dyspepsia. Modern external uses include blackheads, acne, sores, boils, and burns.

Although a common food in China, mung bean is often eaten with therapeutic intentions. It is especially popular in summer when it is eaten to prevent heatstroke, heat rash or prickly heat. My favorite way to eat it is mung bean soup sweetened with rock candy and eaten cold.

Mung bean has enjoyed a long history of food and medicinal uses, with a written record dating back to the 10th century A.D. Its best known use is the treatment of poisoning of various types, including foods (e.g., mushroom) and herbal drugs (e.g., aconite). In modern times this use has extended to industrial and environmental poisoning (pesticides, heavy metals, etc.). Some of these treatments have been reported in Chinese herbal and traditional medical journals in recent years.

Mung bean is rich in the traditional nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, fibers, minerals, vitamins and lipids, among others. It must also be rich in other nutrients so far not yet identified, because the traditional ones just can't explain its detoxifying and heat-dispersing properties.

Based on its effectiveness in treating and healing burns, reportedly without scars, as well as its recent use in treating acne and blackheads, mung bean flour has found its way into some skin care cosmetics.

One word of caution. Those who cannot tolerate large amounts of fruits and vegetables should avoid eating too much mung bean for long periods.

Dr. Albert Leung’s book, Better Health with (mostly) Chinese Herbs and Food discusses the use of 60 different herbs as healing foods, including mung bean on pages 66-67. For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit http://www.earthpower.com/.

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