The Natural Medicine of Bamboo

in ecotrain •  2 months ago

The monsoonal deluge continues across Asia, and suddenly the bamboo sprouts. Shoots. Takes off in ways that have to be seen to be believed. And the Thai people have a very practical strategy for dealing with anything that comes in massive abundance (read glut) in a short space of time - they EAT it. Whether that be fruit, bugs, snakes, frogs, or bamboo shoots. They're not fussy. Add chili & lime juice, or toss it in a spicy curry.

My first brush with bamboo was in a hospital room in Australia eons ago, where I was a long term patient. Ironically she who could not walk at that time had her own courtyard, fringed with the most delicate bamboo. It whispered to me through long solitary days and even longer nights, when I would beg the nurses not to close the drapes so I could watch the shadows. It danced and shared its own gentle medicine, just by virtue of its form and the rustle of its leaves.

FFWD to Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, 2018 and there is nothing delicate or romantic about bamboo here. It is best approached with a sharp machete in the garden. Springs and shoots EVERYwhere at this time of the year. Some varieties can grow up to 12 inches in a week.



And then, it arrives in the local Thai wet markets, looking like this:
Uncooked, straight from the jungle and requiring you to boil them yourself

or like this:
Thai fast food equivalent, where some nice grandma has done the hard work for you. Note the lovely sustainable packaging of banana leaf and compostable rubber band.

Bamboo shoots are usually chopped up and tossed in a spicy curry. They are the food of poor people - cheap, filling and abundant.

But what is SO AMAZING to me are their natural medicine qualities. Bamboo is seriously under-rated as a food, except by the old Thai grandmas, who smile and nod wisely when I ask about their shoots.

The biggest, and most surprising, natural medicine benefits:

  • Being very high in potassium, they help to lower and maintain blood pressure. This also makes them a great food to enjoy after heavy sweating or fever;
  • Ayurveda has, for thousands of years, used bamboo shoots to help the body manage the venom after snake an scorpion bites;
  • The boiling water from bamboo shoots mixed with honey is wonderful for respiratory conditions, colds and flu;
  • The juice from fresh bamboo shoots is great jungle medicine and useful for wound cleaning and tropical skin ulcers;
  • Internally, bamboo shoots help treat digestive orders and stomach ulcers;
  • Clinical studies show bamboo shoots as having properties to help manage and control blood cholesterol levels;
  • Bamboo shoots help crate a sense of fullness and so are wonderful for helping with weight loss.

There are other claims of anti-cancer properties, pain relief, anti-inflammation etc but the studies simply haven't been done. Arguably they are not needed, as most people in Asia already KNOW this is medicine food. But you can read more here:

The nutrient levels are surprising: bamboo shoots contain vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium and iron. And almost no sugar and no fat.

My favourite way to eat them? a spicy Thai red northern jungle curry (water based, not coconut milk based) with fresh monsoon season mushrooms.

And so we explore and appreciate the abundance of Mother Earth, and receive her medicine. No need for western style intensive agriculture or chemicals - bamboo thrives in a natural forest environment, renews itself endlessly, and is arguably one of the most sustainable & useful Asian plants. That sustainability makes it medicine to my mind, while the rustle of the early monsoonal breezes through its leaves never fails to heal and soothe my spirit.


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Woo! Love your post - we've given you a wee upvote with a chance to be featured in the weekly curation. Hope this helps you continue to write such amazing posts. We encourage you to use the #naturalmedicine tag so we can more easily find you.

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Loving your passion @naturalmedicine and yes, off to investigate your current contest. I have a very full posting schedule planned weeks in advance, but the lure of free sweet steem? :) Grateful for your curation and leadership. Thank you.

You have a minor grammatical mistake in the following sentence:

It danced and shared it's own gentle medicine, just by virtue of its form and the rustle of its leaves.
It should be its own instead of it's own.


Love the auto-proof-reader. :) Corrected.

Bamboo shoots in curry are the best as it gives it a very distinctive taste. My Dad absolutely love bamboo and has a beautiful growth of it in a courtyard outside his bathroom. We joke that he must have been a panda in a previous life as he can spot bamboo from a mile away and wax lyrical about it. Great post my dear.

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Yes, bamboo and outdoor bathrooms seem to go together here... currently fantasizing about an outdoor tub screened by clumps of bamboo. :)


Soundsperfectly peaceful

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Thank you for stopping by. :)

You have a fabulous way of writing @artemislives. Quite gripping. And amusing. What does bamboo taste like? I've never tasted it, although some of your pictures remind me of asparagus. I didn't realize the amazing healing power and nutritional value of bamboo.


Thank you, @buckaroo It's firmer than asparagus, chewier (although depends how well it was cooked) and has a mild-woody-astringent taste. Generally it takes on most of the flavours of the curry and we rarely eat it on its own.

Bamboo is such an amazing plant!!

It's an important part of the TCM Materia Medica, with various different parts used for different ailments.

More important I feel is the amazing metaphor they provide in Taoist philosophy... the combination of firmness and flexibility is how we are taught in Tai Chi & Qigong.



Yes, in TCM it is a common thing - not surprising, how bamboo is everywhere in Asia. I too, love the metaphor of bamboo. Although living with it daily here in Thailand, I notice how much it has been romanticized and people conveniently omit to mention that it infested with bugs after a year of two in your house (unless varnished, lacquered and/or insecticided) and that it splits after 2 or 3 years. Romanticization aside, I still adore it. :)

wow I have always love bamboo, the floor in my truck is bamboo and some of our cupboards as well, it is so strong and durable and now I love it more after reading all these amazing health benefits, thanks for this @artemislives


Bamboo IS strong for a couple of years, although it does need treating with varnish, pesticides etc to stay that way. It splits here after a few hot-dry seasons, which is why it's a poor person's building material. In more temperate climates it seems to be more durable. Luckily it is soooooo cheap here that people just rebuild the bamboo bits every few years. :)

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