Bamboo as Medicine

All the bamboo materials have a mild sweet taste and all parts but the leaves are used to resolve phlegm. While the phlegm disorder to be addressed may be related to lung heat causing coughing and sticky phlegm, bamboo is especially used for the disorder of hot phlegm that coats or obstructs the “orifices of the heart,” affecting the brain functions. Thus, it is used for epilepsy, fainting and loss of consciousness in feverish diseases, and a variety of mental disorders that develop with aging. Lophatherum (bamboo leaf) and bamboo shavings are commonly used in cases of stomach heat, providing a cooling effect and helping counter the perverse flow of qi (upward flow instead of the normal downward flow).

Tabasheer is one of the main substances from bamboo used in Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine; it is often called bamboo-manna or bamboo silica (because it is rich in silica). Its properties include: stimulant, astringent, febrifuge, tonic, antispasmodic, and aphrodisiac. A major source in India is Bambusa arundinacea, though other species of Bambusa are also used. An Ayurvedic remedy, Sitopaladi Churna, was used traditionally for tuberculosis and other wasting diseases and has been adopted as a popular remedy for common cold, sore throat, sinus congestion, and cough. It is a powder (= churna) made with tabasheer as the main ingredient, plus small amounts of long pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon in a base of sugar. In Tibet, formulas with tabasheer as the main ingredient are used for treating lung diseases.

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