TCM staples

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Dr Gao picks five foods to lift you this summer.

 
Dried longan fruit

What’s the deal?
The flesh of the longan fruit is sweet, juicy and clear in colour. Take note, though: it is the dark brown dried flesh that is reputed to help stressheads unwind.
 
Why it does you good: Trying to get to sleep during a sweaty summer can be a pain. This dried fruit is used to promote relaxation of the body and mind. It is thought to do this by increasing the yin fluid of the heart and spleen, the main organ associated with worry and exertion.
 
Perfect for: A late-evening snack that won’t keep you up at night.
 
Price: 17RMB/jin.
 
Green beans

What’s the deal?
Packed with vitamins and minerals, green beans are commonly associated in the West with helping to battle heart disease. For traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) purposes, they are best eaten steamed or boiled.

Why it does you good: During the summer, TCM recommends that you avoid overly greasy, heavy food, as this will slow down your digestion. Green beans, on the other hand, are thought to promote fluid circulation in the body, help to remove toxins and relieve itchiness of the skin. Not surprisingly, their cooling properties are particularly beneficial against the summer heat. Interestingly, because of their toxin-fighting properties, they are often given to people to eat if they’ve had a gas leak in their homes – although we’d recommend hitting a hospital before the greengrocers!
 
Perfect for: Adding to a nice cool salad to give you the chills in spite of the summer sun.
 
Price: 5RMB/jin.
 
Rose tea

What’s the deal? Roses are usually noted more for their perfume and ability to win back the affections of upset spouses rather than their healing qualities. However, their oil is universally used in aromatherapy thanks to its relaxing properties. For use in TCM, it is best taken as a tea that can be bought in supermarkets.
 
Why it does you good: TCM advocates the soothing qualities of the rose, which is commonly used to help combat anxiety. It is even said to soften bad tempers.
Perfect for… Taking in a flask to sip in a hot taxi while you vent and rage in rush-hour traffic. 
 
Price: 14RMB/20 sachets.
 
Lotus root

What’s the deal?
Though not as beautiful as its floral counterpart, this resilient little root is a great source of fibre, has a low calorie content, and is pretty low in cholesterol too. Why it does you good In TCM, lotus root is recommended for the summer months due to its cooling effects. If eaten raw, it promotes fluid circulation and cooling of the blood. If poached in water, TCM suggests that it can even help treat diarrhoea.
 
Perfect for: When you’ve eaten too many Sichuan peppercorns and are feeling the ill effects. 

Price: 3.88RMB/jin.
 
Watermelon

What’s the deal?
Watermelons are high in potassium and calcium, but best of all they’re juicy as hell, so are a great way to cool off. No special preparation is required; just go ahead and sink your teeth right in. 

Why it does you good: This is all about keeping your body cool. TCM doctors believe that watermelons can help relieve agitation, as well as combat restlessness and headaches during the summer. This is due to the fact that they promote the creation of fluid in the body, helping to keep you hydrated.
Perfect for… Late afternoons when the air con is on the fritz and staring at a computer screen has given you a  thumping migraine.

Price: 6.5RMB per watermelon.

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