Oriental Herbs

Oriental Herb: Shiso (紫蘇) To Revive Your Energy

Shiso (Parilla frutescens) is one of the most widely used culinary herbs in Japanese cuisine. It is one of my favorite herbs, as its exotic aroma accentuates almost any dish. For those of us who don’t have a Green Thumb, it's not a difficult plant to grow, as long as it gets enough sun light. I have made many attempts to grow it in my NY apartment room in the past, however, there unfortunately wasn't enough sun light for Shiso to thrive. Now that I have access to an open field in the countryside, I have been enjoying fresh Shiso for the entire summer! It's like heaven to be around abundant Shiso. :) 

Here in the states, Shiso is called 'Japanese basil.’ Easy enough to imagine... it's such a versatile herb for Japanese people just as basil is so important for Italian cuisine. There are two kinds of Shiso: aka-shiso <red (purple) shiso> and ao-shiso <blue (green) shiso>. In Kampored (purple) is the one used as medicine, while blue (green) is mainly used as food. In my opinion, the red is a little rough and firm, and blue ismore tender and more aromatic. Due to those characteristics, blue was eaten up by wild animals quickly in country side, and only red has been available for us humans to eat. I still enjoy it fully. I am hoping to see Shiso in local markets one day soon!

There are many therapeutic benefits of Shiso. They are remarkably high in anti-oxidants, anti-sepsis, and detoxification. These actions have been utilized in Japanese food culture for a long time in history; you may have seen green leaves right by fresh sashimi (or sushi) in Japanese restaurant… These garnishes are kept nearby to prevent the raw fish from spoiling.

Shiso is a purple herb that brings us alive, quite literally! In Japan, Shiso is believed to cleanse the blood. There is an anecdote behind the name, shiso (紫蘇) —One man, who was dying from a severe food poison, was given a Shiso decoction, and soon after, he was recovered.— 紫 means 'purple', and 蘇 means 'revival.’

Interested in a homemade Shiso tincture? Contact me here!

Freshly harvested Shiso in PA, 2017

Freshly harvested Shiso in PA, 2017

Harvesting: June ~ October: Flowers come out at the end of summer. 

Part used: Leaves, Seeds and Flowers

Method: Tea, Tincture (seeds or fresh leaves are preferred) 

Action: Anti-microbial, Detoxifying, Intestinal regulator, Stomachic, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Anti-tussive, Expectorant, and Anti-depressant

Indication: Onset of cold, loss of appetite, food poisoning, (summer) heat lathery, allergy, phlegm, constipation

Oriental Herb: Dokudami ドクダミ for Detox

I'd like to introduce an oriental herb, Dokudami (Houttuynia cordata), from my home, Japan. It's commonly known as a medicinal plant in our history, appeared in "Yamato honzo: Medicinal Herbs of Japan" (1708) by Ekiken Kaibara; "it's called 'ten-medicine (薬)' in Japanese Kampo, from its potency that has medicinal actions as ten herbs can give." Detox herb.

Dokudami (Houttuynia)&nbsp;in Japan, June 2016

Dokudami (Houttuynia) in Japan, June 2016

Since I started herbal study here in States, I've realized it's not common here, wheres it grows everywhere in Japan. It has an exceptionally distinctive oder and taste. It took a while for me to get used to the flavor as a child ...seriously. Yet, I have a strong fondness for it.

"Good medicine is bitter to the mouth"

I have a 'bitter' story to share. I had been suffered from severe acne during my childhood, entire adolescence all way to adult period. My mother, coming from "food is medicine" spirit big time, tried anything on me to heal it. Acne was red, deep rooted, big eruptions sitting all over my face and back. It was a horrible experience for a girl at a vulnerable age, as you can imagine. One approach she gave me was to drink dokudami-cha (tea). It was not about the flavor. It was about searching a method to get rid of ugly pimples. After some times, my gustatory sensor got used to the flavor, and started drinking it just like water. I assume this is how I built my high tolerance for wide range of tastes.

It's usually mixed with other tea, such as pearl barley. It tastes pleasant and is smoother to take.

It has a pretty, white flower with heart-shape leaves. Yet, the name, doku (poison) dame (store), comes from its wild oder thrown off.

Harvesting: May~June. Harvested in flowering period. It is ideally dried under the sun, then under half shaded area.

Part used: Aerial part

Method: Tea, Tincture, Poultice, Bath

Action: Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Diuretic, Laxative, Drainage, Pyretic, Cardiotonic

Indication: Tinea pedis, Skin issues, Acne, Edema, Urethra inflammation, Constipation, Hypertension, Arterial sclerosis, Empyema