Chinese Herbs You Should Know About

Ginseng leaves and root.

Maybe you add purifying parsley to your green smoothies, and you know that the basil in your caprese salad is heart-healthy and full of vitamin A–but it’s time to think outside the western hemisphere when it comes to powerhouse herbs.

Traditional Chinese medicine is one of the oldest medicinal practices on record, and it’s based in part on a Daoist belief that everything about the body (and the universe) is interconnected. Try some of these gentle herbs today, and see if your health—and qi—improve.

Note: These herbs come in a variety of forms, the most common of which are strong teas, syrups, and pills. Chinese herbs can be bitter, so search out the pill version if you’d like to avoid the strong taste of the teas and syrups.


Ginseng, one of the most commonly used herbs in Chinese medicine, is a stimulant used to increase endurance (both physical and mental), energy, and sometimes even sexual desire. It’s also a helpful treatment for male pattern baldness. Recent research has shown that ginseng may slow down the aging process, help prevent memory loss, and boost the immune system.

Szechuan Lovage

The dried root of the Szechuan lovage plant can help with headaches, menstrual cramps, and nervous tension. Ahhhhhh…it’s also found in supplements designed to encourage hair growth and benefit dry, graying hair.

Gotu Kola

Often referred to as “the fountain of life,” this herb is believed to boost longevity. It’s also great for a plethora of other health benefits: strengthening memory, improving blood circulation, healing wounds, and curing anxiety and insomnia. It can even improve varicose veins and psoriasis.


In China, this herb is called He shou wu, or ”black-haired Mr. He.” Legend has it that an older man, Mr. He, took fo-ti and recovered his full head of black hair, his vitality, and his youthful appearance. Fo-ti is useful as an anti-aging tonic, benefiting everything from graying hair to weakness to loss of libido. It’s also thought to lower cholesterol and reverse hardening of arteries.

Hoelen Mushroom

Though not technically an herb, Hoelen mushroom is a rich source of potassium and anti-bacterial properties. It’s also a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer. See why we included it on the list?


Okay, you’ve probably heard of this one before. But nothing calms an upset stomach quite like a mug of hot ginger tea. This spicy root relives nausea, helps reduce coughing, and warms the body from the inside out.

Tell us in the comments below: did we miss any traditional Chinese herbs?

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