Saturday, February 21, 2015

Watercress Soup Is The Best Cure For That Awful, Persistent Cough

I know. 

It isn't the sexiest cough cure around. 

It's not even exotic. It's just a plain vegetable.

But today I shall praises of the humble watercress because it is a well-known cure for the sort of incurable, annoying and keep-you-awake-at-night coughing sessions.

So what's in the watercress? 

In the West, it is commonly eaten fresh and raw in a salad or sandwich. 

Here in Malaysia, I've always eaten this cooked in soups. Never raw. 

So what's so fascinating about watercress? 

  • Watercress' botanical name is Nasturtium officinale. 
  • It is a fast grower in aquatic or semi-aquatic environments. It usually grows in ditches rapidly. 
  • It is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables eaten by humans.
  • The plant is native to Europe and Asia. 
  • It has a peppery flavour and is related to the cabbage and mustard family. 
  • The town of Alresford, near Winchester, UK holds a Watercress Festival that brings in more than 15,000 visitors every year. Alabama in the US is considered the Watercress Capital of the World.
  • Watercress contains significant amounts of iron, calcium, iodine, manganese, folic acid, vitamins A, B6, C, and K.
  • Its high Vitamin C makes it a good remedy for scurvy. It is also a significant source of Omega 3 fatty acids. 
  • It is believed to help with lung cancer.
  • It has more calcium than milk and more Vitamin C than orange.
  • Raw watercress may have greater cancer-fighting power than cooked watercress, as cooking inactivates the myrosinase enzyme that is responsible for hydrolyzing glucosinolates to beneficial isothiocyanates (says this article).

watercress vegetable cure for cough
Watercress is a cheap and plentiful vegetable sold in most wet markets across Penang. 

I've often found that watercress or any vegetable or herb usually is a much better cure for ailments and illnesses compared to medicines or cough syrups or cough tablets.

I also believe that eating something green, natural and healthy like watercress is a more positive method to combat coughs.

In Cantonese, watercress is known as "sai yeung choi" which I believe translates loosely to Western vegetable.

There is a "Sai Yeung Choi Road" in Hong Kong and yes I have walked down this street before, but I didn't see anyone selling watercress!

I guess I am a big believer in Mother Nature. If you'd like a watercress soup recipe, try this.

If you don't take pork, substitute with chicken. It still tastes good.

If you want a vegan version of watercress soup, I have one just for you too.

watercress vegetable cure for cough
Watercress leaf 

For more research or studies using watercress, considered a super food, check out

For raw watercress recipes, check out Martha Stewart's recipes

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

He Shou Wu Herb For Hair Growth

Remember I mentioned about he shou wu, a herb that helps hair growth?

It's also called Fleeceflower Root or Polygonum Multiflorum.

(My hair shenanigans were a big deal to me. You can read about Shou Wu Chih or my hair darkening tea posts.)

I bought some - actually RM5 worth of it - and boiled it a couple of times. Each time I also added some dried black dates too. Initially I'd simmer the herb over the stove but later decided to use my slow cooker. When i couldn't finish drinking it all I'd store it in an old-fashioned thermos flask.

Two weeks ago I was in town buying dried scallops and Chinese sausages for my mother in law when I decided to ask the shop assistant if they had he show wu.

Mind you, this was a Chinese medical store cum grocery store. 

So below was what they recommended to me.

he shou wu slice chinese herb for hair growth and preventing hair loss

It was RM16.50 for a 200gm pack. When I opened it, the slices were thicker and darker. It wasn't sliced thinly - in fact it was hard and knobbly like tree roots.

he shou wu slice chinese herb for hair growth and preventing hair loss

The herbalist said just use 2-3 pieces each time.

he shou wu slice chinese herb for hair growth and preventing hair loss

See how different this is from the previous he show wu that I bought? I used these he show wu pieces and simmered them in my slow cooker for a few hours. The resulting brew looked the same - a light black soup. It tasted the same too.

But the next time i shall ask the herbalist why the difference in the herb's appearance. Nic thinks it is different due to the different parts of the herb that's sliced. One could be from the outer root while the other is from the inner root. 

So now the results of drinking he show wu on a weekly basis. 

I did notice that my hair fall was less obvious. However I also added one more hair care step - i would apply coconut oil to my scalp and leave it on for 30 minutes before I shampooed my hair. 

I read that doing this pre-conditioned the hair and prevents hair loss. Plus hair is also more manageable and I didn't need to use a conditioner after shampooing (not that i am a fan of using conditioner).

I am optimistic about the outcomes of using both he show wu and coconut oil. Another thing is I also drink a tablespoon of coconut oil every other day. It's not as gross as it sounds. Coconut oil from organic stores are aromatic and not as oily as imagined. I started drinking it as I heard a friend's elderly father grew black hair after drinking this for a month. 

It's still quite early to say anything really conclusive but i do feel he show wu works.

The other outcome is that I feel more energised the morning after whenever i drink warm he show wu brew before I go to bed. 

Anything that benefits the liver should also benefit hair. 

I am writing this on my iphone while on a Chinese New Year break in Kuching. 

Before I forget, let me wish you a Goat Year of Goat Fortune and Goat Luck. Lots of goaty puns this year!