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Chinese Herbal Pesticides

Chinese herbs

Photo by Pam Link [flickr.com/pamelalink] under CC BY-NC 2.0

There is valid concern over the level of pesticides found in herbs from China, and commonly used in Chinese medicine. This concern is barely being addressed by China, e.g. through agricultural regulation. The lack in this type of government oversight is what continues to aide China’s rapid growth, even though their economic expansion has recently slowed.

However, there is a system for self-regulation within the Chinese medicine community. Firstly, there are a growing number of small-scale farms outside of mainland China—where consumer protection and environmental stewardship is greater—that are focusing on the cultivation of Chinese herbs. This includes within the U.S.

Secondly, for herbs that do come from China, several manufacturers and distributors offer Certificates of Analysis (CoA’s) for any batch of herbs, upon request. These certificates testify [click to continue…]


Tea time.

Photo by r. nial bradshaw [flickr.com/zionfiction] under CC BY 2.0

In terms of beverages besides water, the two that I’ve had an affinity for since quite some time are Earl Grey tea and gin. Maybe I have some British DNA. But, in any case, I appreciate both not only for their effect but also their flavor.

Of note, Earl Grey tea contains the essential oil of bergamot. In Chinese medicine, bergamot oil helps move liver qi and thus, calms the sympathetic nervous system. The essential oil itself may be used as aromatherapy for relaxation. However, neither the tea nor the essential oil should be considered a prelude to sleep time. While bergamot relaxes the nerves, it also aromatically enlivens the senses. Besides, Earl Grey tea has caffeine.

Of second note, the primary botanical in traditional (i.e. London Dry) gin is juniper berry. Juniper has a storied history of medicinal use that led up to gin’s precursor, 16th century Dutch “genever”—distilled malt wine flavored with juniper.

In addition to juniper, gin typically has several other botanicals—the variations of which are infinite. Each distillery creates their own blend; but there are staples, including various citrus rinds (all in the same family as bergamot, i.e. Rutaceae). Some of the commonly used ingredients are also used in Chinese medicine: angelica root, licorice root and cassia bark (cinnamon).

However, none of this is a recommendation to drink alcohol. The gin is a tangential thought, being one of my tastes that also has a minor connection to medical history and Chinese medicine.

This is really about tea, and its effect on the body. In Chinese medicine, green tea is considered to have a cooling effect on the body whereas black tea has a warming effect. Both effects are [click to continue…]