Friday, August 7, 2015

Fresh Herbs Vs Dried Herbs (鲜草药与干草药)

Many people asked me this question:

“Since we can purchase dried herbs in large quantities now days, why do you still spend so much time tending my herbal garden; and insisting on using fresh herbs?”

My answer is always simple:

“Those who know how to use herbal medicine would understand that the healing property of these herbs changes slightly according to the way they are preserved.”

In Traditional Chinese and Thai medicine:

Fresh herbs are naturally balanced with distinctive properties. For example a fresh ginger rhizome is warm in Chinese medicine; and it belongs to fire and earth elements. However, when ginger rhizome is dried; then the increase in elemental energy would depend on how the ginger rhizome is dried.

In Tradition Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Thai medicine, if ginger rhizome is wind or sun dried; then it carries more heat energy. In this case, dried ginger should not be given to patient who is ‘hot based’ as that would cause the hot based person to experience fever.

Of course, ginger is not a good example to show the significance of how fresh herbs and dried herbs are used. Traditionally, fresh herbs are used in treating fresh injuries, animal and insect bites because they carry moisture and those fresh herbs have more cooling effect. Also, fresh herbs can be used to make medicinal creams and they can also be consumed fresh as vegetables. Dried herbs on the other hand, need to be used in conjunction with other elements such as alcohol, rice wine, vinegar or water so that their essences can be released fully.

This is the same case when rosemary is used fresh or dried in western culinary practices. I am sure fresh rosemary leaves would give the taster a refreshing aroma than dried ones. So, care must be taken not only on which herbs to use in treating illnesses; but also on how they are processed. Our forefathers knew this, why shouldn't we?

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