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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Herbs for Cardiovascular Health - Part 2 of 3

NOTE: This is an excerpt of an article originally published in 1998 in Dr. Leung's newsletter, "Leung's Chinese Herb News", Issue 12, page 3. It is the second in a series of excerpts on cardiovascular health. The first excerpt provided a summary of herbs used in cardiovascular health. We will publish the last excerpt in the next few days. The information is as useful today as when it was written. -ed

Apart from the ones well known to Westerners (e.g., garlic and hawthorn), there are many common Chinese food/herbs that are effective in reducing blood lipids. Here are a few: lycium fruit, fo-ti (both raw and cured), juemingzi, shanzha, chrysanthemum flower, danshen, tangerine peel, zexie, huzhang, purslane herb, huaijiao, and mung bean. Most of these can be regularly and safely consumed. The following are 3 simple remedies that one can try.

This herb has been around for a long time, being listed in the Shennong Herbal (circa 200 BC to 100 AD) as a superior herb. It is the seed of Cassia obtusifolia or Cassia tora (syn. Senna obtusifolia or Senna tora). It is not only effective in reducing serum lipids (total cholesterol and triglycerides) and increasing HDL-cholesterol, but also in lowering high blood pressure. The dose levels for this herb range from 4.5 g to 50 g. The higher doses are mainly for treating constipation. For hyperlipidemia, 5 to 20 g per day are used. Simply fry the seeds in a frying pan at medium to high heat until they turn darker and emit an aroma. After cooling, break them into a coarse powder and save for later use. Each day take 5 to 20 g and make a tea with boiling water. Drink this every day for at least 1 to 2 months before you can expect any results. If loose bowel occurs, reduce the dose until bowel movement is normal. If you tend to constipate, you may use a dose on the higher side. Also, you may add an equal amount of tea or chrysanthemum flower to the juemingzi if you prefer. Both juemingzi and chrysanthemum flower are readily available from Chinatown herb shops or groceries.

Cured fo-ti
Place 30 g (~1 oz) of cured fo-ti in 300 ml (~10 oz) water and boil for 20 min. Take the liquid (150-200 ml) and drink it in two portions during the day. It is reported to take effect in 20 days. Cured fo-ti is available in Chinatown herb shops. Be sure to ask for the tonic, and not raw fo-ti, the cathartic. Cured fo-ti normally comes in slices, sometimes quite thin, and should be very dark brown to black; it is breakable by hand.

Lotus leaf and green tea
Place 10 g of each herb in a teapot of boiling water. Let it steep for 10 minutes. Then drink it throughout the day, adding more boiling water if needed. This can be used year round on a long-term basis. Lotus leaf is one of the most commonly used ingredients in Chinese diet formulas. It is available in Chinatown groceries and herb shops. It is used as a wrapping for lotus rice. The best way to prepare it for the tea is to break or cut it into small pieces and save for later use.

Note: To be continued in next post. -ed

These and more herbal remedies are available from the volumes of Dr. Leung’s newsletter, of the same name as this blog (Leung’s Chinese Herb News). This newsletter was published and sent to subscribers (most were industry-insiders) from 1996 to 2004. The collected works now serve as an excellent reference work, created with Dr. Leung’s frank, honest opinions and down-to-earth communication style.

For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit http://www.earthpower.com/. To order the newsletter containing the remedies mentioned above, visit the bookstore, click “Buy Now” on the newsletter, and select Issue #12 from the drop down list.

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