In this biweekly column, we introduce a medicinal ingredient used in traditional Chinese medicine, along with prescription and usage instructions. By providing basic knowledge of TCM, we aim to acquaint readers with China's profound heritage of traditional and natural healing.
A Chinese legend says that a man once witnessed what looked like a 15-year-old girl beating an 80-year-old man.
When the man stopped the girl and asked her why she was beating the old man, she replied, "He is my great grandson. I beat him because he refused to eat the good medicine, and thus got old before his time."
The man was astonished to learn that the girl was 372 years old and asked her how many herbs were used in the medicine she mentioned.
The girl replied that there was only one herb but it had five names. It is called tianjing (heaven essence) in spring, gouqi in summer, digu (earth bone) in autumn and xianren zhang (the fairyman's stick) in winter. It is also called xiwangmu zhang (the stick of Queen Mother of the West). If humans pick and eat them in all seasons, they will live as long as the heaven and earth.
Of course, it is impossible for a human to live that long but the anti-aging and health-benefiting functions of gouqi have been approved by both TCM and modern medicines.
It is a "neutral" herb that helps benefit the kidneys, nourish lungs and reinforce liver. It is widely used for improving eyesight, relieving coughing, dizziness, ear-ringing and spermatorrhea (accidental ejaculation) related with insufficient energy in the liver and kidneys.
Modern research has found gouqi rich in vitamins and micro elements, which can help accelerate blood production as well as prevent aging, cancer, liver fat and high blood sugar levels.
There are various patent products made from the herb including pills and drinks.