Mountspine Herbal Discussion, Part One 岳方論(1) : An Empirical Formula to Slow Greying and Lighten the Body

in health •  2 years ago 

Introduction

The following is a recipe taken from the Wàn Bìng Huí Chūn 萬病回春, an herbal compendium written by Gon̄g Tíngxián 龔廷賢 during the Míng 明 dynasty. The translation and accompanying commentary are mine.

The recipe describes a fruity tasting, alcoholic herbal preparation which is meant to be drunk at the most yīn 陰 time of year in order to nourish the most yīn 陰 aspect of the body. It could be said that the hair, beard, and moustache are all yáng 陽 expressions of this yīn 陰. From a modern clinical perspective, this formula is good "kitchen medicine" for anyone - whether male or female - who would like to take a deeply nourishing, moistening, and slightly invigorating tonic. It is especially appropriate for persons over 50.

If you are outside China, you will likely have to replace fresh goji berries with dried ones. This is fine, but be sure to rehydrate them and break them up before adding the alcohol.

The Translation: Clean Copy[0]

Empirical Formula to Blacken[1] the Hair
This formula can change white hair to black and make the body feel light and healthy. Its merits cannot be fully told. Every year, on the 9th or 10th day of the 10th lunar month,[2] face east and pick red, plump goji berries (1 liter sic). Smash. Add a good, dreg-free wine[3] (1.2 kg sic) and let soak together in a stoneware bottle for 21 days. Once enough time has passed, open the seal and add fresh rehmannia root (1.8 kg).[4] Mix evenly. Then use three layers of paper to seal the mouth of the bottle. Let sit until 30 days prior to Lì Chūn,[5][6] and then open the bottle. Take daily on an empty stomach:[7] drink 1 warm cup. Once Lì Chūn has passed, the moustache and beard[8] will be both be black. Do not each turnips, onions, or garlic during this time. Take this formula in order to prove its effectiveness. If it is taken every year, one will endure old age with an incomparably light-feeling body.

Footnotes:

[0] Annotated copy, below.
[1] "Blacken" makes sense in context (i.e., Chinese people typically have black hair). If your hair is blonde, for example, this formula will not change your hair color to black, but will slow the greying process. In some cases it does actually reverse process. Nonetheless, expectations should be tempered.
[2] The timing is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. For ease sake, follow the timing described in note [6].
[3] Likely referring to a rice-based wine, but feel free to use whatever you'd like. Please remember, though, that the liquid medium must contain alcohol if it is to be an effective tincture.
[4] Do NOT substitute Western foxglove root (significant toxicity).
[5] Classically, Lì Chūn 立春 referred to the period of time starting at the new moon at Chinese New Year. It literally means "Establishing Spring". I'll save a discussion about why spring is "established" in the dead of winter for another time.
[6] This formula should be taken daily for an entire moon cycle before Chinese New Year. In 2018, Chinese New Year is February 16th. Since there is an intercalary lunar month in January, the calculations are somewhat challenging, but - if I've got it right - this means that one should mix the goji berries with the alcohol on the first quarter moon of November 26th, add the fresh rehmannia root on the new moon of December 17th, start taking on the preparation on the new moon of January 16th, and finish taking the preparation on the new moon of February 15/16th.
[7] In classical Chinese herbal texts, the turn of phrase "empty heart" 空心 actually means "on an empty stomach".
[8] Also, newly-grown head hair.

The Translation: Annotated Copy

經驗烏鬚方
能變白為黑,身輕體健,其功不能盡述。

Empirical Formula to Blacken[1] the [Hair]
[This formula] can change white [hair] to black and make the body feel light [and] healthy. Its merits cannot be fully told.

每年冬十月壬癸日,面東採摘紅肥大枸杞十二升搗破,同好無灰細酒二斤,同盛於瓷瓶內浸二十一日足開封,添生地黃汁三升攪勻,卻以紙三層封其口。俱至立春前三十日開瓶,空心熱飲一杯。至立春後,髭鬚都黑。

Every year, on the 9th or 10th day of the 10th lunar month,[2] face east and pick red, plump gǒu qǐ [zǐ] 枸杞[子] goji berries (12 shēng 升 [roughly 1 liter]). Smash. [Add] a good, dreg-free wine[3] (2 jīn 斤 [roughly 1.2 kg sic]) and let soak together in a stoneware bottle for 21 days. [Once] enough [time has passed], open the seal and add shēng dì huáng 生地黃 fresh rehmannia root (3 jīn 升 [roughly 1.8 kg]).[4] Mix evenly. Then use three layers of paper to seal the mouth [of the bottle. Let sit] until 30 days prior to Lì Chūn,[5][6] and then open the bottle. [Take daily] on an empty [stomach]:[7] drink 1 warm cup. Once Lì Chūn has passed, the moustache and beard[8] will be both be black.

勿食蕪菁蔥蒜。服之見效。若年年服之,耐老身輕無比也。

Do not each turnips, onions, or garlic [during this time]. Take [this formula in order to prove] its effectiveness. If it is taken every year, [one will] endure old age with an incomparably light-feeling body.

Thanks for reading!

This post was written in answer to a request. If you have a request for a particular herbal discussion, please let me know in the comments. Nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. Avoid taking Chinese herbs while on blood thinning medications. To schedule a consultation, please contact me at [email protected]

Criticism appreciated: Teach me more Classical Chinese.

Citations:
Chinese text from http://www.theqi.com/cmed/oldbook/book117/index.html
Images from https://pixabay.com and from http://www.threefieldsacupuncture.com

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

Hi Threefields! I wonder how fresh Goji berries look like? I only know dried Goji berries since I was born ;( Even inside China, I only know the dried one. Haha, but that's not important! Thank you for sharing this ancient recipe with us! Look forward to reading more ancient wisdom from you!

Thanks for the message, @ouyangxi ;)
Fresh goji berries look a bit like miniature, oval-shaped tomatoes. Check out the photo, here:

Yumm!
-Tianji

Any thoughts / advice on just munching on dried Goji berries? Worth re-hydrating before eating or?...

It's generally preferable to rehydrate dried fruit. There are a number of reasons for this, not least of which is that rehydration eases digestion. From a Chinese medical point of view we might also say that the jin1 body fluids are protected if the dried fruit is rehydrated.

Oh my god! They look soooo cute! Wish I could try it someday :)

I hear there are wonderful goji berries in 新疆. Maybe you can visit someday with somebody close ;)

你好。今天是你来 steem 刚满一个月的日子。由于你在中文区发布过文章,中文区新人之家“希望工程”今天特别为你庆祝满月,请点击查看。新人之家欢迎你,欢迎参加这里举办的各种活动,并期待你在未来继续发布优质文章!

Hello. Today you have been on Steem for one month. You have contributed at least one post in CN community. The Welcome Center for New Steemians is having a celebration for you. Welcome to CN community. Looking forward for more high-quality posts from you in the future!

Thank you for your warm welcome!

Congratulations @threefields! You have completed some achievement on Steemit and have been rewarded with new badge(s) :

Award for the number of comments received

Click on any badge to view your own Board of Honor on SteemitBoard.
For more information about SteemitBoard, click here

If you no longer want to receive notifications, reply to this comment with the word STOP

By upvoting this notification, you can help all Steemit users. Learn how here!

Congratulations @threefields! You have completed some achievement on Steemit and have been rewarded with new badge(s) :

Award for the number of upvotes

Click on any badge to view your own Board of Honor on SteemitBoard.
For more information about SteemitBoard, click here

If you no longer want to receive notifications, reply to this comment with the word STOP

By upvoting this notification, you can help all Steemit users. Learn how here!

Congratulations @threefields! You have completed some achievement on Steemit and have been rewarded with new badge(s) :

Award for the number of upvotes

Click on any badge to view your own Board of Honor on SteemitBoard.
For more information about SteemitBoard, click here

If you no longer want to receive notifications, reply to this comment with the word STOP

By upvoting this notification, you can help all Steemit users. Learn how here!