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Health on a Shoestring--Lotus Root
From murky, watery fields grows one of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors' favorite summertime treats. The growing and harvesting of lotus root, or ou, has been celebrated through festivals and song and has been the subject of countless Chinese idioms since the Qing dynasty (1616-1911). The lotus root's appearance and where it grows may have something do to with its celebrity-like status, says TCM practitioner Stefan Brinkop.
Lotus root is brownish gray in color, but when cut open its flesh is pure white and filled with water. Although lotus grows in a muddy environment, the water inside the root is clean and pure. According to ancient Chinese medicine beliefs, lotus has a cleansing effect on the body," says the Beijing-based Brinkop.
Nowadays, lotus root is more likely to be found on a dinner plate than in song lyrics. It's the undisputed summertime remedy used to cool the body while playing in the sun.
Home sweet home
The village of Liye near Guangzhou is known as China's lotus Mecca. Lotus growers endure a three-month ritual preparing the fields for cultivation. In July their efforts come to fruition and growers pluck the treasure from its muddy home.
According to the Chinese, lotus symbolizes three things: Beauty and purity (referring to its growth); luck and wealth (referring to its seeds); and the lotus root itself is a symbol of true love, inspiring the sentiment "ou duan si lian" - the English equivalent to "absence makes the heart grow fonder."
Take a break from the heat and cool down with a gift from Mother Nature.
"Lotus root can relieve any heat-related symptom by cooling down the body," says Brinkop. After a day in the sun, fresh lotus root juice in particular is the ideal treat to alleviate dehydration symptoms such as headaches and dizziness.
The Prescription: Cool down with a glass of lotus root juice. Peel and cut the root into chunks, place them into a blender, then drink. Add ice cubes and sugar if desired.
"A serious case of heat stroke can cause intestinal tract infection, leading to diarrhea," says Brinkop. Although lotus root remedies are too gentle to treat diarrhea alone, it can be used in addition to other medications, but should predominately used to ease the severity of heatstroke.
The prescription: For a sweet snack to rid the body of heat, add lemon juice and sugar to thinly sliced pieces of lotus root.
* Add sliced lotus root to fruit salads.
* Boil a piece of lotus root, cut into bite-sized pieces
and add to porridge.
* Grate lotus root and add to desserts.
* Substitute orange juice for lotus root juice to beginyour summer day.