The Truth About Herbs and Their Medicinal History

The Truth About Herbs and Their Medicinal History

Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners believe the value of herbs is far more significant than adding flavour and garnish to our meals.

For at least 2000 years, the philosophy has held that herbs restore our body’s  balance and can assist with health conditions. However, not every herb is created equal. They all have distinct properties and purposes.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, herbs have been used as medicinal compounds for centuries in China. Herbal medicine is utilised for many conditions. There are many claims out there so this article separates the fluff from claims grounded in high-quality research.

Common Chinese herbs include:

Green tea

Latin name: Camellia sinensis

Where it is grown: originated in China but now produced globally.

Traditional Chinese medical theory believes that using green tea as a herb will clear the mind and reduce toxins to prevent disease. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), green tea is also beneficial for lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol.

Maidenhair Tree

Latin name: Ginkgo biloba

Where it is grown: Xitianmu Mountain in Zhejiang, China.

This living fossil has been around for around 350 million years. Members of the royal court were given Ginkgo for support in old-age. It has also traditionally been used for treating asthma, bronchitis, and kidney and bladder disorders. According to the NCCIH, the herb contains very high levels of flavonoids that provide protection against cell damage.


Latin name: Astragalus membranaceus

Where it is grown: China, Mongolia and North Korea.

Astragalus was traditionally used in China for night sweats and diarrhea. Today it’s also used to prevent heart disease and fatigue. A recent 2019 study found that Astragalus, in addition to conventional therapies, may be effective in short-term reduction of diabetic kidney disease.

Red Sage

Latin name: Salvia miltiorrhiza

Where it is grown: China and Japan.

Known as a blood moving herb, red sage has traditionally been used to treat blood circulatory disorders. A study treated 2,431 heart disease sufferers with red sage, and found that 63.4% to 99.2% of them benefited. A more recent study found that red sage has the potential to both treat and prevent stone disease.


Latin name: Panax ginseng

Where it is grown: Far East including Korea and China.

Ginseng means “essence of man” in Chinese and the roots resemble man legs! It has been used in China for thousands of years. It’s one of the most highly regarded herbs in the Orient. It was traditionally used as a tonic to boost energy, prolong life and clear the mind. Today, research has found that Ginseng increases resistance to various illness or microbial attacks by regulating the immune system.

Reishi mushrooms

Latin name: Ganoderma lucidum

Where it is grown: North Eastern Hemlock forests.

Reishi is known as the divine mushroom of immortality for good reason. Traditionally used to harmonize the soul, it has also been shown to reduce free radical activity. A study found that patients with cancer who were treated with Reishi-sourced polysaccharide showed an improvement of their immune systems effectiveness.

So there you have it. Stock up on those aromatic plants and don’t be taking that beautiful leaf on top of your soup for granted again!