- Searching for Herbs
Here's more you might like to know about Chinese herbs...
Many herbs need to grow naturally -- often on the jagged mountains and in the deep valleys of Sichuan, Yunan, Guizhou, Guangxi and Guandong. They can't be cultivated, and can only be picked in their wild, natural surroundings. Other herbs in the lush southern provinces can be cultivated.
These unique conditions and climates -- especially the harsh weather in Sichuan -- seem to meet the requirements of the rarest wild herbs. For some reason, environmental adversity seems to increase their potency.
Some of the more potent herbs, such as Ginseng root, leave the soil totally depleted. Nothing will grow in the same spot for many years.
The parts of the plant used for medicinal purposes differ with each herb. In some plants, only the roots are medically useful. In others, only the stems, flowers, seeds or leaves are used.
There are also plants which are used whole, and others where every part is used for widely different purposes. For example, the roots and stems of the Ma Huang herb contain the bronchial asthma preventative, ephedrine, but the joints have a completely opposite action and are used to treat different problems.
Roots and rhizomes are most potent in late autumn and early spring, when the bulk of plant nutrients are stored in them.
Barks are collected between February and May, when the moisture content is highest.
Most leaves are gathered just before the flowers begin to bloom, although some varieties may be collected in the autumn, when they begin to drop.
It takes most of a lifetime to learn about the growing and preparation of herbs, and China is the epicenter of this knowledge. Indeed, everything that one learns is the cumulative knowledge that comes from many previous lifetimes -- from the master herbalists whoíve come before us.
Keep this in mind when you buy your next herbal product.