Thursday, July 8, 2010
If you already love raspberries and didn't need a medicinal excuse to eat them (or drink tea with their leaves), then you will be extra happy with this post. Recently, I went wild black raspberry picking, along with about 1 trillion mosquitoes just outside of Chicago. It was worth it. Even after the 40th bite, it WAS still worth it! I kept focused on the goal: Raspberries enrich and cleanse the blood (and treat anemia)! They regulate the menstrual cycle! Raspberries can help with urinary incontinence. The leaves are used in a tea to induce and promote labor. In Chinese Medicine the dried raspberries are referred to as fu pen zi and are used to treat incontinence, impotence, premature ejaculation, to benefit the kidney and liver function, as well as to treat blurry vision (gou qi zi is good for the vision as well).
Raspberries have a neutral thermal nature. I keep referring to the thermal nature of herbs and food and this is because it is relevant in their medicinal usage. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) you often treat hot conditions, with cold foods. And cold conditions with warming/hot foods. When something is neutral it is interesting in that it will not harm or exacerbate a hot or cold condition. You may now be wondering, am I hot or cold? Well, I can not diagnose you from here, but you can often tell if you lean towards one or the other in general and you will change with time and with whatever is ailing you. And sometimes you will be both hot AND cold, it gets complicated, but really it's also quite simple. As an example of this, you might have a fever and be HOT but be shivering and feeling cold.
But let's get back to the raspberries. They are neutral, so do not worrry if you are hot or cold, they're safe! They are also sweet and sour flavored which means they will target both the digestion (sweet) and the liver (sour) by nature of their flavor. Raspberries are very cleansing and are a wonderful addition to your summer fare when you feel the need to lighten the load on your body and purge this years build up of toxins from being indoors too long and eating heavy rich foods.
Besides eating them just as is by popping them one by one into your mouth, you can also make a variety of tinctures with them since they have a short season. I chose to make a jam (alas, a little high on the sugar side of things), a raspberry liqueur, a raspberry vinegar, and some raspberry syrup. As for the leaves, pluck away and air dry them and save for later use, or you can also buy them ready to go in "tea form" in many supermarkets these days. But why not just dry them yourself if you have access? The tea is excellent for treating the uterus whether that is to induce labor or to relax premenstrual cramps. If you are having a bout of incontinence or perhaps some premature ejaculation, have a little dose of raspberry liqueur and see if that helps you. You can go here to learn how to make medicinal wines, just replace the ingredients that are mentioned with your fresh raspberries.
If you want to treat a liver related condition, then I would suggest adding a little raspberry vinegar to a dish. Both the sour flavor of the vinegar and the raspberry itself will treat this organ. Making the raspberry vinegar is also just as easy as making a raspberry liqueur, you simply choose a good quality white wine or rice wine vinegar and after washing the raspberries place them in the vinegar of your choice (make sure they are completely infused in the vinegar). Sterilize your bottles/jars first and DO NOT use a metal top, it should be plastic or cork as the vinegar will eat away at the metal and it will rust. You can use your homemade raspberry flavored vinegar for up to 6 months so write the date on the bottle when you make it.