Tag Archives: health

Takesumi – bamboo charcoal

takesumi, bamboo charcoalContinuing with the Japan focus from the previous post, this post revisits bamboo charcoal with a particular focus on health. Takesumi is derived from carbonised bamboo and demonstrates the same remarkable adsorptive qualities. As a nutritional supplement takesumi is generally ingested for its detoxification properties, especially after exposure to environmental contaminates.

Claims are made that bamboo charcoal:

  • has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties;
  • emits far infrared rays (to improve circulation) and negative ions;
  • protects the body from EMF’s emitted by the electrical devices we surround ourselves with;
  • is a natural source of macro and trace minerals;
  • is alkalizing; and,
  • adsorbs myco and endotoxins, and radiation.

takesumi, bamboo charcoalThe adsorptive qualities of takesumi that provide the detox benefits are also exploited for extending the life of fresh produce and purifying drinking water. Healthy living blog, Japanese Wall also suggests that takesumi can “make wine more fragrant whilst removing its tartness, and also make tea tastier by reducing the acidity.”

takesumi, bamboo charcoalTakesumi-Power Bali recommends that her followers put some pieces of takesami in the water when cooking rice. “It will absorb chlorine, bad odor and toxic substances from water [and] the taste of the rice will be something you have never experienced before.” If the image is true, it won’t make your rice black. If you don’t find that appealing, there’s always takesumi candy, takesumi coffee, tea, or takesumi crackers (if you’re in Japan and can read Kanji).

takesumi, bamboo charcoal, kiln

The charcoal kiln at I’m Home B&B

Researching takesumi online also unearthed a rather idyllic looking B&B in New Zealand that makes takesumi. The Kyoto-expat owners describe takesumi as “mysterious bamboo charcoal.” The B&B property has its own charcoal kiln and they produce a very interesting-looking range of takesumi products, including powdered bamboo charcoal and bamboo leaf charcoal. Another use for bamboo charcoal that they suggest is as a dietary supplement for animals.

An Amazon search for takesumi yielded mostly fountain pen ink, and it’s not even clear if the black is from bamboo charcoal. eBay at least had one seller for takesumi. Do you have a friend in Japan?

References and further reading:

Fermented Bamboo Shoots

fresh bamboo shootsFermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that promote balance of intestinal flora. And they taste good. As a recent convert to fermenting, my next step in that adventure is fermented bamboo shoots. I’m just waiting for the bamboo to shoot.

The north-east of India, with the largest stock and diversity of bamboos in India, also has many different ways of preparing fermented bamboo shoots. Traditional methods of fermentation are often supplemented with more convenient materials.

fermentation, fermented bamboo shoots Mesu
Bamboo shoots are finely chopped and pressed into a green bamboo stem. The openings are covered tightly with bamboo leaves. Left to ferment under natural anaerobic conditions for 7-10 days. Eaten as a pickle.

Soibum
Thin slices of bamboo shoots are packed into a chamber, covered with plastic sheets and pressed with weights. The bottom of the chamber is perforated to allow for draining before being left to ferment for 6-12 months.

Soidon
Entire tips of bamboo shoots are submerged in water in an earthen pot. Liquid from a previous batch is used as a starter. Leaves from garcinia pedunculata (an acidic tropical fruit related to purple mangosteen) are often added for extra flavour. Soidon is eaten as a curry or a pickle.

fermentation, fermented bamboo shootsEkung
Chopped bamboo shoots are packed into bamboo baskets, covered with leaves and sealed. Heavy stones are used to press excess water from the ferment. The baskets are buried in a pit in the forest. Ekung is fermented for 1-3 months. Eaten raw or with cooked dishes.

Eup
Dry fermented bamboo shoots are prepared in a similar manner to Ekung. After the fermentation process, the bamboo shoots are dried in the sun for 5 – 10 days. Eup is eaten as a side dish.

The information here only covers broad methods of fermenting bamboo shoots in India. I’ll post again when I find the simple recipes I want try. Do you have any you’d like to share? In the meantime, I can highly recommend books on fermentation by Sandor Katz. There are heaps of other books about fermenting on Amazon and eBay, as well as a good range of fermenting crocks, to save you the trouble of digging a hole.

References:

Activated Bamboo Carbon

Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, activated coal, or carbo activatus, is a form of carbon processed to have small, low-volume pores that increase the surface area available for adsorption.” 

activated carbon, activated bamboo charcoalHmmm, so? Bamboo is just one material used to make activated carbon. Activated carbon has special qualities over plain old charcoal. Adsorption is the key here. Adsorption is the binding of molecules or particles to a surface, as distinguished from absorption, the filling of pores in a solid. Activating carbon gives it high degree of microporosity, increasing the surface area so just one gram of activated carbon has a surface area in excess of 500 m2.

Activated carbon has many industrial applications, but probably the best known use is medical. The adsorptive qualities can treat some poisonings and overdoses. It’s so important that it appears on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. For everyday personal use the list of activated bamboo charcoal is extensive: odours, soap, humidity, water filtration, baking, face masks, indigestion, toothpaste, insoles for shoes….

The list of products on Amazon goes on for pages, (but not every item will ship to Australia). Ebay au has a smaller but still diverse range of activated bamboo charcoal products. The most popular products seem to be the air freshening/odour absorbing ones. There is range that comes wrapped in hemp bags – much more attractive than the plain black bag I picked up at the Bamboo Festival. There are some pretty ones on eBay au though, as well as some disguised as dogs. Maybe stuffed dogs in the back windows of cars are really there for a purpose?

The most interesting looking product, I think, is the food-grade powder. Or maybe the tooth and gum powder. With the powder on hand, you could make your bamboo charcoal soap, use it to make bamboo charcoal bread, treat indigestion and certain poisoning events, or whatever you can think of.

In case you are wondering, activated carbon is usually made from charcoal and, increasingly, high-porosity biochar, both of which can be produced with mature bamboo. Two different processes may be used: physical reactivation and chemical activation. There is a Wikipedia entry that explains the processes.

Reference list:
Activated carbon
Adsorption

Bamboo and anions

anions, negative ions, bamboo anionsAfter the fabulous bamboo lunch one fine weekend in Chiba, the diner owner suggested we visit a bamboo forest nearby. He said a doctor from a local private hospital recommends that his patients take a wander through a bamboo forest, particularly those who cannot get a positive diagnosis for their ills. The negative ions, anions, produced in a bamboo forest are said to be beneficial for health. It is a very popular notion in Taiwan too. For example, the Lemidi Hotel at Xitou, Taiwan, uses the nearby bamboo forest as a selling point:

The hotel is rich in anion as high as 7,000 units and can help metabolism, elimination of fatigue, soothe and calm emotions; the anions and rhythm of pleasure result in the most valuable medicine. While you are at it, you will feel more youthful and marvel at the wonders of the nature!

anions, negative ions, bambo o anionsThe bamboo forest at Damyang certainly makes a big deal about it too. At the small stone cottage that serves as the ticket office, there is a large LED display to tell the freshly arrived, among other things, the temperature, the humidity, and the anion measurement. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now anions are crossing my radar in the most surprising places and products. A quick Google search reveals websites extolling the virtues of the anions present in bamboo charcoal for bed sheets, sanitary pads, yarn, health-caring quilts, bamboo charcoal soap…. and that’s just the first page.

anions, negative ions, bamboo anionsWe walked in a bamboo forest after our marvellous bamboo lunch, as recommended by the owner of the roadside diner. It is a lovely place, beside a small established dam. This bamboo forest lacked the crowds and well-trodden paths of Juknokwon and Arashiyama. It was an abandoned commercial forest by the look of it. There were a few decrepit shacks, an old kiln, and a general atmosphere of damp decay.

anions, negative ions, bamboo anionsOn arriving at our next stop I noticed a slight squelchy feeling between my toes. Thinking there was some mud there, shoes were removed for inspection. Not mud. Leeches, from the bamboo forest.

The forsaken outhouse, pictured on the left, now features its own built-in bamboo hand-rail, for assisting that rise from the squat.

The best bamboo lunch

Reflecting on the recent trip to South Korea and Japan, there is one meal that is a particular stand-out for me. The meal featured bamboo in many guises. My hosts in Tokyo kindly took me about in Chiba one fine day, with a plan to eat at this roadside diner. One of the special bamboo ‘sets’ were ordered for each of us. A tray with dishes arrived. Then the rice, with bamboo of course, in its own hot-pot type bowl with rustic wooden lid.

bamboo meal, bamboo

On the tray were pickled bamboo, soup with bamboo shoots, a selection of other pickles, and a glass of plum juice, all made by the farmer who grew them. Then came the sticky potato. And the deer stew. That’s pickled kiwi fruit in the red dish.

bamboo meal, bamboo

This sticky potato dish is made from the wild tuber found in the mountains nearby. It hardly resembles conventional potato in any way except perhaps colour. Savoury flavourings were placed on top on the slimy goop in the bowl and we mixed them in ourselves at the table. Delicious. As was the deer stew. Probably the richest flavoured deer stew I have tried in Japan. Then came the bamboo tempura.

bamboo meal, bamboo

Normally I don’t eat wheat flour, but this was worth making an exception for. Perfect crispy tempura batter. Perfectly textured bamboo shoot awaiting inside.

bamboo meal, bambooIt was the Takean branch that we dined at (I think). The fridge was stocked with local bamboo shoots, and all manner of locally made pickles. The freezer stored blueberries, and more bamboo shoots from the recent spring season. The shelves displayed more local produce and products. The owner is, quite rightly, very proud of the fine quality food he uses to turn out the excellent dishes we were so fortunate to sample. He told us he makes everything from scratch. No English spoken here, and you won’t see an English menu. Take a Japanese speaker. You’ll probably need them to at least get the directions from the website.

bamboo meal, bamboo

The freezer on the left is a fish pond.

 

Juknokwon – the bamboo forest, Damyang

As you climb up the stone stairs at the entrance of Juk-nok-won, relax and feel the breeze blow among trees and refresh your tired body and soul. Walking in the bamboo woods, with the crisp sound of bamboo leaves and sunlight spreading over you, is an uplifting feeling. (From the official brochure).

bamboo forestBamboo swaying gently in the breeze, broad paths to stroll along, small pagodas for resting… It all sounds peaceful and idyllic. The bamboo forest at Damyang is beautiful, but peaceful it is not.

The day I visited the bamboo forest there was quite a crowd. Yes, there was a major festival in full swing beside the forest, but a bloke playing music with an amplifier (not bamboo) to promote his CDs? It was really loud. And the music was a bizarre Korean interpretation of old-style Western crooner-type songs.

bamboo forestWhen I did get far enough away from him to be comfortable, I spotted a pagoda through the bamboo and went over for a short rest. There were some old women sitting about. I thought they were resting too. No. They were exercising. To music, of course.

And, similarly to Taiwan, people like to stroll around in nature carrying, and sharing with everyone, all manner of music. No, there is not enough noise in the world – we need to make more.

bamboo forest

Where else might you find a traditional house with an electric massage chair?

There are lots of birds inside the forest. In between the family groups, the girls in high heels, the lovers, and the sharers of music, there are small pockets of peace. Within these pockets, birds can be heard. By standing still, the birds can be seen too, hopping around in the bamboo leaf litter that covers the ground, flitting from culm to culm.

It’s all too brief though.

Bamboo on the Internet for May 2014 – my picks

bamboo sculptureA bamboo art installation that you can climb on at the Israel Museum. It’s called 5,000 Arms to Hold You. Professional rock climbers were engaged to build it. While it is under construction there is a live webcam.

  • A competition (open to US and Canadian residents only AND since expired) alerted me to the existence of bamboo easels and bamboo easel boxes. There’s quite a range on Amazon and eBay au.

bamboo kiosk cambodia

  • Two items from designboom.com are noteworthy for us this month: a kiosk for a bear rescue centre in Cambodia and bamboo plants inside an office in Shanghai. The kiosk supports the work of the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The park gets about 250,000 visitors annually. Their work combats the illegal trade in live bears and provides a safe sanctuary for rescued bears.

living bamboo office divider

  • Living bamboo is incorporated into the meandering central island of an open-plan office in Shanghai. The stands of bamboo, in large planters, create soft and unusual desk and room dividers. The central island, somewhat sadly, is made from timber. I’m sure the whole thing would have looked far superior had the architects chosen bamboo instead.

 

  • Bamboo salt update: A recent study has established that 9X Bamboo Salt probably prevents obesity in mice. Although, in the experiment, the researchers first unnaturally induced obesity in the mice. Still, this gives some people hope that the same result is possible for people. The (refereed) journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology published the research. The numerous other health benefits of 9X bamboo salt still stand. See a previous post for more about that.
  • bamboo leaves, zongzi, dumplings, dragon boat festivalA note from The Star online tells us that the dried ingredients for making dumplings for the Duan Wu festival cost more this year. This includes, of course, the dried bamboo leaf that wrap the dumplings. The dumplings, zongzi, are an important part of the annual Duan Wu celebration (dragon boat festival).  Why they are important is a matter of conjecture. The Star says it “originated from a practice to commemorate poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself to protest against corrupt practices in China about 1,000 years ago. Back then, the local folk threw rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river to prevent his remains from being eaten by fish.”  Here is a recipe if you need to practice for your local zongzi making competitions next year, like this one in Taichung, Taiwan:


Sources:

Park, K. Y., Ju, J. H., Song, J. L., & Moon, S. H. (2014). Anti-obesity effect of bamboo salt on diet-induced obesity in C57BL/6 mice (811.12). The FASEB Journal28(1 Supplement), 811-12.