Home > General TCM > Vinegar,Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine

EVERYONE’S grandma knows about the health benefits of vinegar and it’s also a time-honored agent in TCM for everything from sore throat to athlete’s foot. Zhang Qian puckers up.
Vinegar is essential in Chinese cuisine to make dishes sour and tasty. Its many varieties are widely used salad dressings, mostly in the West.
And for thousands of years, vinegar has held a place in folk medicine worldwide and in traditional Chinese medicine.
Vinegar (cu) promotes warm energy (yang) and is noted as a disinfectant (it’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral), a detoxifier, digestive aid and treatment (internal and external) for inflammation.
It works especially well in autumn, according to TCM.
It promotes appetite, treats high blood pressure, improves the complexion, treats early stages of athlete’s foot (a fungal infection) and fights insomnia.
TCM classifies food into five tastes: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty. Vinegar is sour, and sometimes bitter.
The vinegars used in TCM are primarily grain vinegars, such as rice, gaoliang (sorghum), barley or millet – made from rice and other alcohols.
TCM does not use glacial acetic acid, and it says nothing about apple cider vinegar, which is used worldwide for its health benefits.
Vinegar has been a part of Chinese people’s live for more than 2,000 years; its use is recorded as early as 8 BC. There were famous vinegar workshops in the Spring and Autumn Period (AD 770-467) and the Warring States Period (722-221 BC), and the seasoning became common in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).
About 22 vinegar-making methods are collected in “Qi Min Yao Shu” (“Main Techniques for the Welfare of the People”), a book on agriculture by Jia Sixie in the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-534).
The top four vinegars in China are xiangcu (fragrant vinegar) in Zhenjiang City of Zhejiang Province, lao chencu (mature vinegar) in Shanxi Province, hongqu micu (red yeast vinegar) in Fujian Province and baoning cu (bran vinegar) in Sichuan Province.
Zhenjiang fragrant vinegar is probably the most popular and well-known because of its taste.
Chinese people traditionally make vinegar from grains. Sticky rice and rice are widely used in the south while sorghum and millet are more often used in the north.
Bai cu (white vinegar) made from barley is widely used for external application (as on a wound) and in household cleaning.
During hot weather, Chinese would add vinegar to food to improve the appetite and fumigate rooms with vinegar to prevent infectious diseases.
Its uses include relieving diarrhea and jaundice when taken internally, relieving inflammation and stopping bleeding when used in external application.
It is recommended in cases of indigestion from too much greasy food, in cases of internal bleeding and sore throat.
Its many uses were recorded in the “Ben Cao Gang Mu” (“Compendium of Materia Medica”) by famed pharmacist Li Shizhen in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
Modern research confirms the many benefits of vinegar, which is rich in amino acids, vitamins and acetic acid, especially rice vinegars.
It has been found to improve digestion and appetite, and to have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, especially rice and apple cider vinegars.
It is said to be helpful in protecting the liver, expanding blood vessels, working as a diuretic and promoting metabolism of proteins and sugar. Apple cider vinegar is part of many weight-loss programs.
Vinegar can also serve as solvent for certain herbs. By soaking in vinegar, the undesirable side-effect of some herbs like yuan hua (daphne genkwa) and gan sui (euphorbia kansui) can be reduced. Vinegar can also strengthen the effect of herbs like wu wei zi (shizandra berry).

, ,

Add reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.