The 101 on Chinese Herbs – Part 1

Beautiful Chinese Herbs for my Tonic.
Beautiful Chinese Herbs for my Tonic.

A couple of weeks ago I had the absolute sheer pleasure of attending a 5-day Intensive Chinese Herbal Tonic Workshop. It was held at the Academy of Healing Nutrition, where I was trained and where I now teach.

AHN faculty member Nam Singh taught the course. Nam is a Taoist Priest, Chinese Herbalist, and Chef. An amazing guy.

He cooked for us the whole week long – delicious and exotic Chinese Herbal Medicinal Cuisine.

We began class each day with a steaming bowl of jook.  Jook, or congee, is a soupy rice porridge, infused with herbs, vegetables, and occasionally meat. Each morning, we tasted a new jook, depending upon the day’s topic.

Traditional Chinese Cuisine is used as medicine, the chef choosing ingredients for both taste and healing. Each food or herb has energetic qualities. One might be strengthening and invigorating, while another one produces a moistening, calming effect. Herbs and foods also have a temperature, being hot, warm, neutral, cooling, or cold.

The well-trained chef knows exactly how to combine ingredients to create desired effect.

At the end of the week, we each got to make our own tonic, choosing from a variety of herbs. My tonic will be ready by late fall, winter. I chose herbs that will energize, warm, moisturize and strengthen me during the cold winter months.

After the class, I shopped at Kam Wo, a Chinese Pharmacy on Grand Street in NYC. I purchased a number of beautiful herbs which will keep me strong, energized, healthy, and supple. Looks like I’ll be making a lot of teas and soups.

Interested in Chinese Herbs, but just don’t know how to use them? Stay tuned — in future posts I’ll show you which Chinese herbs are safe to use for teas and soups. I might even give you my tonic recipe.

Post your questions or comments below.

Be Well!



  1. says

    I love my Chinese herbs!
    My fav tonic right now is good old goji berries in rice wine with some ginseng and rehmania root.
    Chinese Medicine cured my painful periods and PMS.
    Am excited to learn more from your website.
    Emma recently posted..Supervise Your Sunscreen HabitMy Profile

  2. Marian Buck-Murray says

    Hi Emma,

    Sounds delicious! Definitely very nourishing for your yin essence. Chinese herbs can be so helpful for balancing. I love gogi berries and rehmania, I make tonics from those in the winter, along with other herbs. Be Well! Marian

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