“Each month the blood sheets down like good red rain.” – Erica Jong
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates
For Your Lady Times
The other day, my girlfriend was feeling very crampy. Being a dutiful boyfriend and having all this Chinese medicine in my head, I decided to cook her a lunch that would help with the pain. I cooked her a special chicken soup with medicinal herbs in it that is commonly eaten by women in China for this reason.
Chinese medicinal cooking
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), food is viewed as the most important form of medicine and food is even described in the same ways that medicinal herbs are. Herbs are often added to foods not simply for flavor, but to enhance the preventative qualities of the dish.
This dish uses a couple of herbs, Angelica root and goji berries along with chicken. Traditionally, a special “black” chicken is used, a breed of chicken with black feathers and very dark meat. This meat is considered to be especially nourishing to the blood. It’s fine to use just regular chicken in this dish. I did not have it, and didn’t have time to go to a few different stores looking for it, so I just used a Cornish game hen.
The most important part of this soup is the broth, so drink that. You can eat the chicken and the herbs if you like as well.
Angelica Root (a.k.a. dang gui/dong kuai/angelica sinensis) – a very aromatic root used in Chinese herbal medicine to improve circulation and nourish the blood. It is known as “women’s ginseng” as it is a very good herb for regulating the menses. It is traditionally used for menstrual disorders such as irregular cycle, scanty menses, or painful menstrual cramps.
Goji Berries (a.k.a. gou qi zi/lycium fruit) – these powerful berries have become very popular in the last few years and are known as a “super food,” as they are packed with phytonutrients. They are also very good for nourishing the blood and are often used for improving sexual function in both men and women. They can also help with constipation you might experience with your period.
These are pretty commonly used herbs in Chinese medicine. You should be able to find them at your local China Town or Korean area. The goji berries will be a lot easier to find, also at your local health food store or even maybe your regular grocery store. If you want to use black chicken, this may be available at a Chinese grocery store, possibly in the frozen section.
Before putting these in your soup pot, they should be rinsed.
If you don’t have these ingredients on hand, try some simple ginger tea. Ginger is good for pain of any kind. Simply simmer some slices of fresh ginger in water for 5-10 minutes and drink 2-3 times per day. If you can only get your hands on ginger tea in tea bags, that will help as well.
- 1 whole chicken or Cornish game hen [can use black chicken if available]
- 9 grams angelica root
- 1 heaping Tbs. goji berries
- ½ C. sake or rice wine
- 2 slices ginger
- Water to cover
Place all ingredients in a pot.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 1 hour.
Serve. Perhaps add some slices of scallion for color. You may want to add a little salt.
Jorga Houy, L.Ac.