7 Chinese Herbs that Double as Culinary Spices


For thousands of years, herbalists and Chinese Medicine doctors have been cultivating health and healing ailments through the use of herbal medicine.  Chinese herbal therapy and Food therapy both follow foundational systems that include the Yin Yang and Five Element Theory, incorporating the five flavors and tastes, colors, properties and nature.

Below is a list of 7 Traditional Chinese Herbs that is also commonly used in the kitchen! These herb not only have extraordinary medicinal properties, but also season and add flavor to your favorite dishes as well as aid in digestion and other common gastro-intestinal issues!

  • Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui): 
    • Herb Category: Warm the interior
    • Action:  Warms and tonifies kidney yang; expels internal cold; warms the channels, and improves blood circulation. 
    • Indications:  Impotence, cold and frigidity, dyspnea, dizziness, frequent urination, weak back, cold limbs, cold and painful knees.  Cold sensation and pain in the abdomen, vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite.  Amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea.
      • Contraindications and cautions:  Pregnancy, overdose can be toxic to the kidneys and cause blood in urine.Cinnamon Bark Rou Gui
  • Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang):
    • Herb Category: Wind/Cold dispersing herbs
    • Action: Disperses cold, benefits the Stomach, antiemetic, stops coughing, dissolves phlegm. 
    • Indications:  Vomiting, especially from cold in the stomach, abdominal pain, diarrhea, common cold, vomiting and diarrhea from seafood poisoning.  Cough with sputum, chronic lung disorders with phlegm and sputum, nasal congestion.  Resolves toxicity from other herbs such as Fuzi and Banxia.
      • Contraindications and cautions:  Patients with Lung heat, and heat from yin deficiency, vomiting due to Stomach heat.Fresh Ginger Sheng Jiang
  • Clove (Ding Xiang):
    • Herb Category: Warm the interior
    • Action: Warms Middle Jiao and directs Stomach rebellious Qi downwards.  Warms the Kidneys and benefits Kidney yang. 
    • Indications: Hiccups, vomiting, epigastric pain, cold sensation in the abdomen, diarrhea, poor appetite.  Impotence, leukorrhea of deficient type, weakness of the legs.
      • Contraindications and cautions: Pregnancy, patients with full heat or Yin deficiency with empty heatClove Ding Xiang
  • Cardamom (Bai Dou Kou):
    • Herb Category: Dampness resolving aromatic herbs
    • Action: Warms the Middle Jiao, directs rebellious qi downward and resolves Middle Jiao dampness.
    • Indications: Cold in the Stomach with vomiting, hiccough,belching, abdominal pain, fullness sensation in the abdomen, poor appetite, nausea, stomachache, indigestion, and flatulence. 
      • Contraindications and cautions: Patients with abundant internal heat and fire.Untitled 50
  • Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi):
    • Herb Category: Qi Regulating Herb
    • Action: Regulates the Stomach Qi.  Dries dampness and transforms phlegm. Benefits the Spleen.  Prevents stagnation caused by tonifying and cloying herbs. 
    • Indications: Epigastric and abdominal distention and fullness sensation, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, bloating, hiccups, belching, acid regurgitation, fatigue, flatulence, poor appetite, diarrhea or loose stools, productive cough.
      • Contraindications and caution:  Patients with excess internal heat and fire, and yin deficiency.Tangerine Peel Chen Pi
  • Sichuan Peppercorn (Hua Jiao):
    • Herb Category: Warm the interior
    • Action: Warms Middle Jiao and disperses cold. 
    • Indications: Abdominal pain with cold sensation in the epigastrium, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, edema.  Cold feet, wheezing and lower back pain from deficiency of Lungs and Kidneys.
      • Contraindications and cautions:  Pregnancy, patients with Yin deficiency and internal excess heat and fire.Untitled 50
  • Cumin (Xiao Hui Xiang):
    • Herb Category: Warm the interior
    • Action:  Warms the Kidney yang, dispel cold.  Regulates Liver Qi, regulates the Stomach and stops pain. 
    • Indications:  Hernias and swelling of the testicles, dysmenorrhea, frequent urination, cold extremities, cold sensation in the abdomen.  Indigestion, poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fullness and distention in the epigastrium. 
      • Contraindications and cautions:  Pregnancy.  Patients with Yin deficiency and internal heat and fire. Untitled 50

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a patient education resource only and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem as it is not a substitute for expert professional care.  If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult with your primary care physician.  

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