Tag Archives: health

Bamboo in Acupuncture

bamboo stripsBack in December, some bamboo strips got a mention in a post on this site. The post touched on medical texts written on bamboo slips that were unearthed during the construction of a subway in Chengdu, China. More details have since emerged.

It turns out that the 2,000 year old bamboo strips are mainly texts about diagnosing disease by taking the patient’s pulse. This practice, commonly known as the 29 Pulses, is still used today. My local acupuncture practitioners certainly use it (and to good effect). Amazon has an extensive range of books on the subject, if you’d like to learn more.

Pulse diagnosis in traditional Chinese medicine can provide very detailed information on the state of the internal organs and, indeed, every part of the body. Taking the pulses is one method that an acupuncturist, who is trained in the practice, may use to determine which points to treat with their acupuncture needles.

Some of the very early acupuncture needles are thought to have been made of bamboo too: a far cry from what we see, and hardly feel, today. Modern, stainless steel, acupuncture needles are very thin, ranging from 0.16 mm to 0.38 mm in thickness. The tip of a modern acupuncture needle is conical in shape, which allows it to penetrate the tissues, separating the fibres of the muscle as it enters, without causing damage. A bamboo needle might induce a less subtle sensation. (Just the thought makes me wince).

bamboo stripsAs an aside, the fascination with bamboo strips extends beyond academia. You can find bamboo strips for The Sims 3, also mentioned in a previous post. Noiranddarksims is offering a Bamboo Slip Conversion as the latest in Decorative Objects. I must confess though, I don’t get it. Can someone please explain?



Bamboo salt (continued)

bamboo saltIn the introductory post about bamboo salt, I promised to follow up on some academic papers written about bamboo salt. Bamboo salt has inspired the creation of many blogs, but very few provide references for the fabulous claims made about the miraculous health benefits of bamboo salt.

The main body of research on the effects of bamboo salt on diverse aspects of health comes largely from Korea. This is unsurprising given that bamboo salt is made in Korea and firmly embedded in traditional Korean medicine. Moreover, the specific properties of bamboo salt are attributed to the minerals found in the local materials used to make the salt – sea salt, bamboo, and clay.

Here are very brief summaries of the main findings, along with the full references, of seven selected studies.

  1. Purple bamboo salt contributes to the prevention or treatment of inflammatory diseases. Shin, H. Y., Lee, E. H., Kim, C. Y., Shin, T. Y., Kim, S. D., Song, Y. S., … & Kim, H. M. (2003). Anti-inflammatory activity of Korean folk medicine purple bamboo salt. Immunopharmacology and immunotoxicology25(3), 377-384.
  2. Purple bamboo salt improves buccal mucosa cancer preventive activity compared with sea salt in mice. (The buccal mucosa is the lining of the cheeks and the back of the lips, inside the mouth where they touch the teeth). Zhao, X., Deng, X., Park, K. Y., Qiu, L., & Pang, L. (2013). Purple bamboo salt has anticancer activity in TCA8113 cells in vitro and preventive effects on buccal mucosa cancer in mice in vivo. Experimental and therapeutic medicine5(2), 549-554.
  3. Bamboo salt has strong bactericidal activity and is effective to use against enteritis salmonellosis (food poisoning). It is thought that the strong alkaline property of bamboo salt could be a fundamental factor for the antimicrobial activity. Moon, J. H., Shin, H. A., Rha, Y. A., & Om, A. S. (2009). The intrinsic antimicrobial activity of bamboo salt against Salmonella enteritidis. Mol. Cell. Toxicol5, 323-327.
  4. Bamboo salt may be a useful strategy to prevent harmful side effects of cisplatin ototoxicity in patients undergoing chemotherapy. In other words, the study shows that bamboo salt can inhibit chemo drug-induced cell death in the cochlea or auditory nerve. Hyun-Ja Jeong, Jae-Joong Kim, Min-Ho Kim, and Hyung-Min Kim. Specific Blockage of Caspase-1 Activation by Purple Bamboo-Salt Prevents Apoptosis of Auditory Cell Line, HEI-OC1. Journal of Medicinal Food. January/February 2011, 14(1-2): 53-61. doi:10.1089/jmf.2010.1232
  5. Experiments on lab rats suggest the potential usefulness of bamboo salt in treatment or prevention of chemical-induced liver damage. Zhao, X., Song, J. L., Kil, J. H., & Park, K. Y. (2013). Bamboo salt attenuates CCl4-induced hepatic damage in Sprague-Dawley rats. Nutrition research and practice7(4), 273-280.
  6. Bamboo salt licks are often provided to livestock run in rubber plantations in Indonesia for essential mineral supplementation. Horne, P. M., Pond, K. R., & Batubara, L. P. (1994). Sheep under rubber: prospects and research priorities in Indonesia. Integration of Ruminants into Plantation Systems in Southeast Asia, 58-64.
  7. Lastly, I found a study about the bamboo salt use that started this post series: bamboo salt toothpaste. The study does not say ‘toothpaste,’ but rather, refers to a dentifrice made with bamboo salt. The study found that use of dentifrice containing bamboo salt “significantly increased the level of the surface hardness and decreased mineral loss.” As well as providing protection against tooth decay through strengthening of the tooth enamel, the dentifrice also significantly decreased depth of the damage on the teeth compared to the other two [control] groups. Choi, C. H., Ha, M. O., Youn, H. J., Jeong, S. S., Iijima, Y., Sohn, W., & Hong, S. J. (2012). Effect of bamboo salt-NaF dentifrice on enamel remineralization. American journal of dentistry25(1), 9.

The high alkaline values of bamboo salt are frequently lauded as one its most therapeutic properties. Indeed, in a number of the studies above the high alkalinity is attributed as providing the conditions for curative effects. For example, (to stick with bamboo toothpaste), tooth plague requires an acidic environment to thrive. The acids eat away at tooth enamel causing demineralisation, leaving teeth open to decay. By using a bamboo salt toothpaste, we would promote a more alkaline environment in the mouth and assist in re-mineralisation of the teeth.

My local Korean store does not stock bamboo salt, or bamboo salt toothpaste – he looked so surprised that I even asked! Never fear, you’ll find some on Amazon – except if you’re in Australia. Amazon does not ship bamboo salt to Australia. But you can find some on eBay au. There is a shop that sells both bamboo salt toothpaste and bamboo salt.

Bamboo vinegar

bamboo vinegar

Japanese bamboo vinegar

When bamboo is heated at very high temperature in an airless vessel, it becomes charcoal.  The vapour that comes off the heated bamboo is condensed to produce a liquid known as bamboo vinegar. Bamboo vinegar is produced in Japan and is used to treat eczema, atopic dermatitis, and other skin diseases, often by just adding it to bath water. Bamboo vinegar is acknowledged as an anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal, but not as a salad dressing.

In Japan, bamboo vinegar is recognised as having many health benefits; eliminating foot odour, softening the skin, relieving itching and insect bites and improve blood circulation. Diluted, it’s also used as a skin toner and hair conditioner.

bamboo vinegarIn the West, bamboo vinegar is more commonly seen in form of foot detox pads. The pads are applied to the feet overnight. Bamboo vinegar detox pads score quite highly in the Amazon customer reviews. One purchaser said they felt 5 years younger the morning after a night with detox pads stuck on the feet. Another found his allergies reduced. Numerous reviewers commented on both the foul smell of the pads and the colour of pads in the morning.

One of the claims made by manufacturers of bamboo vinegar detox pads is that the pads will turn a brown colour overnight and this is an indication that the detox pads are drawing out toxins through your feet. Indeed, numerous Amazon reviewers commented on the brown gunk they found on the detox pads the morning and were duly impressed by the efficacy of the product.

bamboo vinegar

There is an article on Mercola about bamboo vinegar detox pads. A reporter used the detox pads overnight and then took the resulting gunky brown pads to a laboratory for analysis. The results established that the chemical analysis of the used pads was almost identical to the new ones. The brown gunk appears whether the pad draws moisture from a person’s foot or is held over the steam of pot of boiling water.

In its original form, medicinal bamboo vinegar was fermented for nine years. The sales script for the detox pads does not specify the age of the bamboo vinegar used for the pads. Still, the comments on Amazon make interesting reading. I do like the sound of the bamboo vinegar soap though.

Introduction to bamboo salt

bamboo salt

The mention of bamboo salt toothpaste in a recent post piqued my curiosity about bamboo salt. There are many websites extolling the miraculous virtues of the stuff. It all seemed too good to be true, so I did some research. The more research I did, the more interested I became.

What is bamboo salt?

A product of Korea, bamboo salt is sun-dried sea salt roasted inside sections of bamboo that are sealed with clay. Mature bamboo, of at least three years old, is used for the process. The clay used to seal the bamboo sections is usually yellow clay, high in minerals.

The process
  • Sections of the bamboo culm are cut leavingbamboosalt one end open and the other end closed.
  • The bamboo tubes are filled with the sun-dried sea salt and tamped down firmly.
  • The open is end is sealed with clay.
  • The tubes are stacked inside a furnace and roasted using timber from pine trees.
  • The result is hard column of solidified salt.
  • The column of salt is crushed.

This process may be repeated three, six or nine times to give different grades of culinary and medicinal salt. Medicinal grade bamboo salt is very high in minerals. Most sources I consulted for this post say at least 70 different minerals. Bamboo salt is highly alkaline, a powerful antioxidant and has excellent anti-bacterial properties. The lengthy production process probably accounts for the high price.


Here is a short list of just some of the claimed benefits of bamboo salt:

  • Treatment and prevention of inflammatory diseases
  • Suppression of allergic reactions
  • Promotes dental health
  • Improves glucose tolerance for diabetics
  • Does not induce hypertension

There are numerous academic papers published about the medicinal benefits of bamboo salt. I’m planning to study a good cross-section of the ones I can get access to and publish my findings here in future post. Good holiday reading!

Have you tried bamboo salt for culinary or medicinal purposes?

Unfortunately for Australians looking to buy bamboo salt, Amazon does not ship it to Australia. It is, however, available on eBay au.

Bamboo shoot recipe – Naga fish and bamboo shoot curry

bamboo shootsThe bamboo shooting is nearly over here. After the initial monsoonal surge, the weather has settled into a pattern of showers rather than tropical downpours.  Here is the second of Liya‘s Primal and Paleo-friendly bamboo shoot recipes, for the last bamboo shoots of the season.

Bamboo shoot is one of the underrated ingredients which add sparkles to Indian dishes yet remain least used in most parts of India. However, inhabitants of north east India, especially the Nagas, have developed a special love for this exotic ingredient. No wonder you’ll hardly come across a Naga curry or chutney without bamboo shoots in them and their fish curry is not an exception as well.

Every Naga household has their own secret recipe to cook this classic dish but all these versions are unified by one dominant ingredient – bamboo shoots or ‘bastenga’ as they are called in Nagamese. The tender, delicate essence of the bamboo shoots receives a zesty complement of the Indian spices, thus making the dish shine. But it’s the pungent aroma of the mustard oil which ties up the flavours together and adds an amazing depth to the dish. But don’t let the long list of ingredients freak you out! This dish is unassumingly simple to cook and could be the ideal choice when you are busy or too lazy to spend hours in the kitchen. Simply cook all the ingredients together and you are ready to enjoy a flavoursome curry for your dinner.

bamboo shoot recipeNaga fish and bamboo shoot curry

Serves: 8-10


For the curry:

  • 1 kg Rohu or any white fish, cut into medium pieces
  • 1 cup fresh bamboo shoots, shredded (you may also substitute it with canned bamboo shoots)
  • 1 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 garlic pod, cloves separated, peeled and crushed
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 5 green chillies, halved longitudinally
  • 500 ml water
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp Mustard oil

To marinate:

  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • Coconut oil, to shallow fry


  • Add all the marinating ingredients into a large bowl and stir them all together to mix well.
  • Lay out the fish pieces into the bowl and rub the spice mixture all over the fish; set them aside for an hour to marinate.
  • Drizzle a lashing of vegetable oil into a skillet and heat it over moderate flame.
  • Place the fish onto the skillet and cook them, a couple of minutes per side, until they brown evenly on both sides; drain them out onto a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Heat the mustard oil in a casserole dish until its raw smell disappears.
  • Throw in the onion chunks and sauté for 5-10 minutes or until they caramelize.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and sprinkle the spices on top.
  • Stir them all together and throw in the bamboo shoots, followed by a splash of water.
  • Place a lid on top and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Continue to boil for 2-3 minutes and reduce it to a simmer.
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes and lower the fried fish carefully into the simmering curry.
  • Scatter the chopped shallots on top and cook further for another 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Remove from heat and let it rest, covered for another 10 minutes.
  • Serve hot with Cauliflower rice (or steamed white rice) and fresh salad.

Bamboo leaf tea – part 3

bamboo leaf teaExperimentation with bamboo leaf tea continues. I’ve been drinking a cup or more of bamboo leaf tea most days for past 3 months with a view to observing any noticeable health benefits. Most importantly though, I really like the flavour of the tea.

Bamboo Leaf Tea – part 1 enumerated some of the benefits I could expect. I’ve just reread them. Some beneficial changes I might have been able to observe (and any change) include :

  • skin elasticity (same)
  • teeth and gums (same)
  • connective tissue and musculoskeletal system (no improvement in weights-induced shoulder injury)
  • hair (maybe)
  • nails (no change)
  • diuretic (possibly)

Despite my research efforts, I was unable to locate any definitive research on the bio-availability of nutrients in bamboo leaf tea. In the course of the research however, I did come across another tea called bamboo leaf tea. 

The ‘other’ Bamboo Leaf Tea
bamboo leaf tea

Emei Shan

Also known as Zhu Ye Qing, this is a green tea first grown and produced by a monk near the top of Emei Shan, a famous Buddhist mountain in Sichuan province, China. It is called Green Bamboo Leaf because of its bamboo leaf shape not because it is actually made with bamboo leaves. You can read more about Zhu Ye Qing here. The tea undergoes seven processes before it’s ready to drink. It’s quite expensive. Amazon stocks it.

How to make bamboo leaf tea: The Life with Bamboo hybrid method

In Bamboo Leaf Tea – part 2, I shared some different ways the tea is made in Japan. Not having the same kinds of equipment, I developed a similar method using what I have in the kitchen here.

  • Young green leaves are picked and cut into small pieces with scissors
  • The cut-up leaves are tossed around in a wok and toasted until the aroma changes from green grass to toasted rice and the leaves are just starting to brown.
  • A saucepan of water is bought to the boil and toasted leaves are added. Slow boil the leaves for a few minutes.
  • Its ready to drink now. I put my cooked tea in a coffee plunger (I don’t have a teapot) and drink the tea throughout the day.
bamboo leaf tea

Left to right: Green leaves, toasted leaves, cooked leaves, plunger

If this is all too much bother, or you just don’t have access to fresh young bamboo leaves, Amazon stocks a range of bamboo leaf teas.

The bamboo is shooting!

fresh bamboo shoots

Freshly harvested bamboo shoots

The onset of the monsoon has inspired the small bamboo to start shooting. Shoots are sprouting up within the grove and all through the lawn metres from the grove. Apparently, a good way to control bamboo is to eat it.

For the variety of bamboo being harvested here, I found the optimum size of the shoots to be about 20 cm high. Any smaller and the yield is a mere mouthful. Any larger and the shoots start to get a bit fibrous.

fresh bamboo shoots

The inner heart of the shoots

There are some helpful instructions for peeling and cutting the shoots in this short YouTube vid posted by Suburban Foragers.

The inner heart of the bamboo should be soaked, or boiled, or both, depending on who is telling the story. I do not have the definitive answer on this. Some folk say the soaking and/or boiling is to remove the bitter taste and some say it is to remove the hydrocyanic acid present in some varieties of bamboo.

The Life with Bamboo hybrid method

Even though the bamboo I’m using is not bitter when raw, I opted for a just-in-case method and soaked AND boiled the shoots. The shoots were soaked overnight in water, and then boiled for 20 minutes. Bamboo shoots will keep for up to two weeks covered in the water in the fridge. Change the water daily. Or freeze the prepared shoots.

The first batch of shoots that I harvested, were just dropped into a butter chicken dish near the end of cooking. As a vegetable, the shoots were delightfully crisp and tender. Nutritionally, they are good source of dietary fibre, potassium, and some other minerals.

The dogs love them too, raw, if I peel the outer leaves off for them. And the horses.

Soon I’ll post some bamboo shoot recipes. Do you have a favourite bamboo shoot recipe?