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Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 20th WHMonth: CHINESE HERBOLOGY - DON SEN

TO CELEBRATE WOMEN'S (HEALERS) HISTORY MONTH (WHM), during the month of March ~ in addition to my weekly postings ~ I will be making DAILY postings of time tested herbal and medicinal foods used from a Medicine Woman's bag, which holds many, many herbs, generating many, many formulas, as one herb used for a cold (mullein), when combined with totally different herbs, can be used as an antispasmodic for inflammation or as an expectorant to relieve asthma or general lung congestion.

This week will be dedicated to Chinese herbs. For the 30 years that I have traveled around the country treating health imbalances with herbs and teaching herb courses and workshops, Chinese herbs have always made up a very large percentage of my inventory, and the success I've had with the efficacy of Chinese herbs are unmatched.


CODONOPSIS LANCEOLATA / DON SEN


MEDICINAL PART: root

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS: stomachic; cardio tonic; builds immunity and raises resistance; lowers blood pressure; raises blood sugar

INDICATIONS: chronic fatigue, hypertension; loss of appetite; indigestion due to hyperacidity; loose bowels; pale complexion; exhaustion after surgery or childbirth; body bloating and facial swelling due to edema; immune deficiency; hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Since this herb acts similarly to ginseng, it can be substituted for the latter when ginseng is too costly or in short supply. It is often used instead of ginseng for mild chronic conditions that do not require high-potency herbs.  Recent research has also established dang shen (don sen) as an effective preventive against many forms of heart disease.  Since it lends itself well to cooking, it can be used daily in the kitchen as an ingredient in stews, soups, and porridges, or simply boiled in chicken broth, as a general nutrient tonic for the whole family and a specific preventative against heart disease.

According to the traditional Chinese view, the reason that this herb is such a reliable energy tonic is because of its affinity for the spleen and lungs, which are the two major organ-energy systems responsible for the extraction of energy from food and air through digestion and respiration.  Codonopsis is used to treat HIV infection and to protect cancer patients against side effects of radiation treatment.  It is also used to boost the immune system; and to treat weakness, loss of appetite (anorexia), chronic diarrhea, shortness of breath, noticeable heartbeat (palpitations), asthma, cough, thirst and diabetes.

As a cooling herb, codonopsis is useful in any illness in which "spleen chi deficiency"- a deficiency of digestive energies - is the underlying cause.

Codonopsis is a relatively inexpensive herbs that is often substituted for Panax ginseng in herbal tonics.  It is believed to have an action similar to that of panax ginseng, but milder.  Often used by poorer Chinese patients, it is commonly referred to as "poor man's ginseng".  Its relatively low cost does not diminish its place as one of the more important Chinese herbal medicines. Don sen has been used as an astringent in excessive uterine bleeding, and for rheumatic and other joint pains, and described as an aphrodisiac, general tonic and styptic.  Pharmacological research has confirmed that the herb promotes digestion and metabolism, helps to strengthen the immune system, stimulates the nervous system, dilates peripheral blood vessels,and inhibits adrenal cortex activity, thereby lowering blood pressure.