Monday, February 8, 2010

Dr. Chao's Herbal Drink

Just got a sample of this from a neighbor. No sugar, no calories, made with Chinese herbs, and no, it's not disgusting. It's actually quite sweet. I'm guessing that's because of the Luo Han Guo (罗汉果 Fructus Momordicae). From Chen's Materia Medica entry on Luo Han Guo, page 722:
Because mogroside VI is approximately 256 to 344 times sweeter than cane sugar, it is commonly used as a sweetening agent in drinks. It is also used as a sugar substitute by obese individuals or those with diabetes mellitus.

Hmm, I guess it's only a matter of time before someone patents a chemical copy of mogroside and markets it as a sugar substitute, eh? Anyway, back to the drink.

Ingredients: Water, Cordyceps, Saffron, Fructus Momordicae, Herba Hyperici Japonici, Herba Houttuyniae, Rubus Suavissmus, Lavender, Citric Acid.

Cordyceps (冬虫夏草 Dong Chong Xia Cao) is a parasitic fungus that grows out of the body of an insect which it infects and eventually kills. Bad for the insect, good for us! The wild product is unimaginably expensive, but cultivated cordyceps is available. Cordyceps is used as a general tonic herb that is good for the lungs and the immune system and has very few side effects.

Saffron is the common name of 红花 Hong Hua, which in Chinese medicine is considered a blood-mover. I've never heard of it being used for stress, but blood stasis could certainly contribute to stress, so... Fructus Momordicae, besides having that magical sweetening effect, is good for coughs. Hypericum (贯叶连翘 Guan Ye Lian Qiao) is the Chinese name for St. Johns Wort. Chen puts it in the category of Clear Heat Eliminate Toxin and notes:
Historically in China, this herb was used as a heat-clearing agent, to treat various types of infectious and inflammatory conditions. In Europe, it was used more as a nerve tonic, to address anxiety, depression, and restlessness.

Now we get to an odd one: Herba Houttuynia, or 鱼腥草 Yu Xing Cao. I have no idea what this herb is doing in a stress formula. It's also a Clear Heat Eliminate Toxin herb, generally used for infections. It also promotes urination and drains pus.

Rubus Suavissmus is a new one on me. It's not in my herbal medicine books, but googling it turns up a variety of research studies. Apparently its common name is Chinese sweet tea.

Lavender is a western herb used for relaxation. Citric acid is a preservative.

Well, I drank it, and I'm not dead. I don't know how much it retails for, but I probably wouldn't pay for it. I'm not much into exotic drinks. I stick with the basics: Chinese tea, Vietnamese coffee, water, beer, wine.

Dr. Chao also has some other drinks: Adult Drink, an aphrodisiac type of drink; Lady Drink, for the ladies; and 21, for the drinkers.

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