There are a variety of comfort foods for when you're feeling sick: chicken soup, ginger ale and maybe even your Grandma's homemade macaroni and cheese. But did you know that there are certain ingredients that are prone to make you feel better? Traditional Chinese medicine is based on just that. Take note of these herbs and ingredients as you might want to have some on hand next time you're feeling under the weather:
* Ginger root: Used in China for over 2,000 years, ginger is a perfect ingredient to aid digestion and calm an upset stomach. Ginger is used in Chinese medicine in teas, grated and sprinkled in foods as well as candied for a tasty treat. Try a Ginger Tea or Honey Ginger Sparkler with your next meal!
* Rhubarb: A large root that is similar to celery but much more tart, rhubarb is not only delicious when baked into pies but also holds medicinal qualities. Mainly used as a dietary aid to help digestion, use of rhubarb dates back to ancient China. Rhubarb is just coming into season! Pick up a vibrant bunch this weekend at your local market.
* Lingzhi mushroom: This fungus has been used in Chinese medicine for ages as is seen as the ultimate herbal substance as it has minimal side-effects. Lingzhi mushrooms aren't great to eat; the taste is very bitter and is usually prepared as a hot water extract. If you can stomach the taste, it has been known to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Otherwise, buy a lingzhi mushroom tea.
* Kudzu: Use of this perennial vine has only recently begun in the US, but it's healing powers have long been used in ancient Chinese medicine. Kudzu soothes the digestive tract, relaxes muscles, and boosts immunity. For culinary use, it's available in powdered form. Try it in a Creamy Rosewater Guava Pudding recipe.
* Seahorse fish: Typically found in it's whole form and dried, seahorse fish is a fundamental remedy for kidney ailments, respiratory problems and joint pain. If you feel too skittish to eat one whole or in a soup, grinding it up with other herbs can help restore vivacity to facial skin as well as a detox or cleanser.
Photo: Lindsay Hunt