Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Brewing Hakka Medicinal Ointment

One of the things that Nic believes (and strongly too) is that he is a healer.

Perhaps it is a past life connection.

But it's not just wishful thinking.

He does seem to intuitively know which parts of the body to massage whenever I start saying my body aches.

He is quite attuned to healing, I must say. I used to scoff at him, thinking he was just pulling my leg when he really wasn't.

Over the years, we've both had our own thoughts about health and healing and conventional medicines.

His younger brother is a neurosurgeon by the way so this is quite an interesting topic. His brother is in mainstream medicine while Nic believes in natural healing.

I believe in natural healing too hence this blog. I believe that you can eat your way to good health. We prefer non-mainstream healing because we strongly believe the body knows best.

Here's an example.

Sometimes, I crave certain foods. It's not a woman-PMS thing.

Lately, I've been craving peanuts and sunflower seeds and lamb.

I didn't know why until I read in Lelord Kordel's book (a fabulous book by the way) that these foods contained Vitamin B5 and Vitamin D which helped with hair growth!

Remember my hair loss episodes?

I wonder if it's work or the change in weather but my hair did drop quite a bit. I figured my body was telling me I needed these vitamins from these foods.

So I always listen to my body.

After munching on sunflower seeds and peanuts, I did realise my hair loss decreased. I am not kidding because I always look at the drain cover in my bathroom each time I wash my hair.

Anyway, that's a sidetrack to what I wanted to talk about today.

Nic got a Hakka medicinal ointment recipe from Joe, who has been following my blog and whom I finally met this year.

See how amazing this blog is? One thing leads to another and he gives Nic a recipe for brewing liniment or in Cantonese, "thit thar zhaow".

A few weeks ago, we went shopping in Little India (Enrico's actually on Beach Street) to buy the cinnamon, star anise and cloves. I managed to find my stash of dried nutmeg seeds and we bought fresh lemongrass stalks.

Plus we bought Chinese cooking wine too.

I would've like to use vodka but hey, Chinese wine is a lot less expensive!

Anyway, this ointment is for external use so no point using vodka right? Might as well drink the vodka. (I use vodka to steep my dried vanilla pods and the results is a homemade vanilla essence of the best kind!)

First production of Hakka medicated oil or "thit that zhaow" - thanks to Joe's recipe! 

All the ingredients go into a glass jar (cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, smashed nutmeg seeds, fresh lemongrass stalks) and topped with Chinese wine. This sits in a dark corner for a good few weeks to get all the spicy goodness.

This is an intoxicating brew because it smells like fruitcake! It also reminds me of German mulled wine!

Nic is quite excited with the idea of producing his own medicated oil because he also wanted to design his own labels (he's also an artist) for the medicated oil bottles when they're ready.

We even managed to find a shop in George Town that sold all types of glass bottles - perfect for our oil when it is ready! (The universe works in mysterious ways. Nic was telling a friend that he wanted to get some bottles and this friend gave us this contact and we moseyed our way to the amazing shop of bottles and jars.)

He has always been keen on producing medicated oil ever since he recalled his grandfather (who came all the way from China and worked as a coolie in Kuching) had a special recipe. But as with all things, the recipe got thrown away when his grandfather passed away!

Apparently, this recipe required the fat of monitor lizards! The ointment or salve is used if one accidentally stepped on iron nails - the nail would be easily pulled out without any ensuing problems if one used this salve. I would think this would be useful for coolies back then who didn't have access to proper medical care or doctors.

But where the heck do we get monitor lizards' fat even if we did have the recipe?

Anyway, we decided to go with Joe's Hakka medicated oil recipe for now. Who knows, one day I might get some monitor lizard fat!

With all the ingredients costing quite a bit, this will be quite an expensive medicated oil. It can be used for painful joints and bruises and all manners of removing aches and pains. That's what Chinese medicated oils are used for.

According to Joe, we can keep topping up the jar with wine but the extraction will not be as concentrated as the first 'brew'.

I'll keep everyone posted on our Hakka medicated oil production. ;-)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Benefits of Black Goji or Black Wolfberry - Newest Herb in Town!

I ran out of my dang gui pills recently so I decided to pop by Veng Tatt Soon in town.

I usually try to eat one dang gui pill per day after my menses. I try to be as consistent with this but even so, I sometimes forget! I thought this would be a better option on days when I am too tired to double boil dried dang gui soup or even ba zhen soup.

If I am to make these soups, I must first check if my freezer has chicken drumstick. I find my soups more palatable if I have at least some chicken in it. Also, I read that protein combines better with the nourishing goodness of these soups.

So dang gui pills (RM25 for 100 clear capsules) will have to make do when I am not in the mood to boil any soups!

Anyway, as I was about to walk out of the herbalist shop, I saw some plastic jars stacked near the counter. I'm always curious about new herbs so I asked the guy.

He told me these were black wolfberry or black goji berry.

Looks like black peppercorns, don't they? They're black wolfberries though they look nothing like the red ones. 

I was surprised.

All this while, I only thought there were only (red) wolfberries or red goji berries.

As with most herbs, the black wolfberries are from China (I believe Qing Hai).

But they don't look like the red ones. They're not longish at all. In fact, if you look closely, they resemble dried blackcurrants. They're black and tiny and a little shriveled.

As with most black coloured herbs, these black wolfberries (Lycium ruthenicum) are supposedly excellent for the eyes and kidneys.

I'm a sucker for anything that helps maintain good eyesight because I believe the eyes are important and much more so in my business - where I need to be online mostly.

Did I tell you that I have developed some farsightedness? I did my iLasik surgery years ago and did away with my short-sightedness. I can see into the distance and read words most people can't. That's the beauty of ilasik!

However, now I am having problems reading small print.

I need to hold the small print further away in order to see the words! I have been trying NOT to get reading glasses because I don't want to rely on them. Glasses are like crutches. The more you rely on them, the more you will rely on them and never give your eyes the ability to regain their ability.

I looked a little hesitant until the guy told me I could buy a bigger packet for far less. Plus I was attracted to the idea of just steeping these tiny berries and drinking them as a warm tea. Always a plus point for me if I don't have to do lots of preparation.

So what are black wolfberries good for?

They're good for people with fatigue, with tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and maintaining eye health.

Apparently, these tiny black goji pack a punch of goodness in antioxidants and vitamins galore like 50x more vitamin E (but compared to what?). This information came from Eu Yan Sang. But theirs is super pricey. I am still a tad doubtful of the veracity of their claims but I do believe that these berries should be good for eyes and kidneys.

That's how tiny they are! Taste-wise, they're slightly sweetish. 

So how do you eat them?

You can eat them as a snack or steep 1 teaspoon in a cup of warm water (do not use boiling water). You don't need to boil or simmer. So it's perfect for lazy asses like me haha.

Just pour warm water over them and you can drink them in 5 minutes. Even faster than drinking chia seeds.

There are no instructions if they're safe for daily consumption but as with all herbs, go easy. If I am in doubt, I usually space my consumption out in a week.

There is too much of a good thing sometimes! (Even with burdock which I love to bits, I take it easy too. Just 2-3 times a week will do!)

So I'd say, maybe 3 times a week of this black goji tea (if you take it as a tea). I've heard it being called Russian gojiberries too.

Here's a regular red wolfberry tea that you can make at home.

In the meantime, I shall try this and update everyone here if I feel any different after consuming this black wolfberry tea. The tea looks dark purple. I bet you it's similar to my clitoria ternetea (bunga telang) purple!

And if you're curious what the plant looks like, take a look at this video.

Have you tried this black wolfberry before? What are your thoughts?