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|One good aspect
of Chinese herbs is that many of them can be used other than for medicinal purposes. Many
CHM contain a variety of vitamins or minerals. Those that are antioxidants can be used to
alleviate or prevent numerous disorders such as diabetes mellitus, damage to the heart,
inflammatory diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis), atherosclerosis, and carcinogenesis.
For this type of Chinese herbs, they can be used as part of the daily diet to increase
nutrition and health.
To echo Lesley Tierra’s suggestion (1997), “One of the best ways to strengthen the body is to consume herbs cooked with food.” As Tierra has put it, herbs cooked with food are highly digestible, assimilable, extremely nutritious, and sometimes delicious. Chinese herbs often appear in congees (i.e., rice porridges) and soups. Some soups are cooked for several hours with bones, vegetable cuttings, or other scraps added over time. Consequently, soups of this type are highly nutritious and laden with minerals and vitamins. Tierra’s book provides a list of brief recipes for some herbs cooked with soups or congees.
Nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids have been extensively studied for their dietary and functional values in accordance to the Western model of cause and effect. Thus at least in theory, Chinese herbs can be used more than for therapeutic purposes. Those herbs that contain these tested essential nutrients can be used additionally as a dietary supplement.