If you are eating a raw food diet, should you be drinking cooked Chinese herbs? This question seems to come up more often as more people are becoming raw foodies?
My answer is always the same, yes, you should use cooked herbs rather than raw. (All our products have been cooked, or extracted.)
Many of the herbs used in Traditional Chinese medicine are roots which tend to be very fibrous. Humans don't necessarily have the enzymes to break down all this fiber. When the herbs are cooked, the medicinal value can be extracted from them and easily absorbed without eating all the fibrous materials.
Even though plants do have a enzymes, they are preserved when cooked at a low temperature. One fairly common enzyme in plants called protease, it often begins a chain of reactions for breaking down proteins.
The best known plant protease is papain, from the latex of the papaya tree, Carica papaya, is used commercially in the manufacture of meat tenderizers. I thought this was a fun fact… maybe not.
Back to our topic. More importantly, the traditional method of using Chinese herbs for thousands of years is through water based extraction. This encompasses boiling the herbs in a purified water for about an hour and then straining and drinking. Recent studies show water based extraction preserves the herbal chemical constituents but it is also provides the body with the fastest method of bio-availability for the active constituents.
New technologies in herbal processing allow for capture of essential oils which tend to evaporate fairly quickly when cooking on the stove top. Which is why your kitchen smells like mint in the first 5 minutes of boiling mint leaves. Using sophisticated equipment preserves all the active ingredients by re-introducing the captured essential oils after cooking is completed. Our short video explains it all. Take a look here, it's only 3 minutes.
Great to be a raw foodie, but when it comes to herbs you're better off with a cooked product.