Learn More About Dr. Leung's Research Philosophy

Dr. Leung says "My thinking has changed and I no longer trust research findings on botanicals unless... "
Click to read more about Dr. Leung's research philosophy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Part 1 of 2: Soybean

This week we will be looking at how Chinese medicine uses a favorite of American agriculture, the soybean. This will be covered in a two-part entry. Enjoy!

Two varieties of soybean are used in Chinese medicine - black soybean and yellow soybean, known in Chinese as hei da dou and huang da dou respectively. Both are derived botanically from Glycine max of the pea family. (Black-soybean skin, also used medicinally, is known as hei da dou pi. ) Black soybean has a black skin (seed coat) and yellow soybean has a pale skin.

Soybeans have been cultivated in China for thousands of years. They are a major source of protein there, mostly in the form of soybean milk, bean curd, and related products. Today they are also widely cultivated in Western countries, such as the United States and Brazil. The soybean plant is an erect, hairy annual, about 0.3 to 1 m. (1-3 ft.) tall. It produces flowers in late summer and seeds (soybeans) in autumn, with two to four seeds per pod.

Soybeans are rich in protein (up to 40%); they also contain about 18% oil, 33% carbohydrates, and 1.7% potassium, as well as enzymes, and other biologically active substances. Traditional food products derived from soybeans include bean cake, soybean milk, soy sauce, soybean oil, and bean sprouts, some of which are also used in Chinese medicine. Newer products derived from soybeans include soybean meal for feeding animals (cattle, pigs, chickens, etc.), monosodium glutamate (MSG) for flavoring foods, and purified protein for making imitation meat products such as bacon bits and steaks. This purified soybean protein has been highly treated by chemical and physical means so that it can be "texturized" - made into different textures or consistencies characteristic of certain meat products. When it is combined with added synthetic flavor chemicals, it is hard to tell the difference between these imitations and genuine meat products. Soybean proteins are also used in the manufacture of plastics and adhesives. In the earlier part of this century, Henry Ford actually tried, unsuccessfully, to perpetuate a line of automobiles based on soybean plastics, which were used for distributor and coil housings, lever knobs, horn buttons, window trim, gear shifts, and light-switch handles.

In the past few years, several Western scientific studies have shown that yellow soybean can lower serum-cholesterol levels in both humans and animals and can prevent atherosclerosis (thickening and hardening of arteries) in rabbits.

That's all for the first of two entries on the soybean. Be sure to come back later in the week to catch part 2, when we will cover traditional and modern uses of soybean, as well as some home remedies.

This information is excerpted from Dr. Albert Leung’s book, Chinese Healing Foods and Herbs. This publication includes further information and home remedies using soybean as well as over 45 other herbs. Learn more about soybean and read further about Dr. Leung and his writings! Visit http://www.earthpower.com/.

No comments: