Eucommia bark comes from a tree in the rubber family and can help pain in the back and legs.
It is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in Chinese herbology, and its Chinese name is du zhong.
According to Chinese legend, a very poor man named Du Zhong relied on cutting firewood for a living.
Sometimes he suffered from lumbago, pain in the muscles and joints of his lower back, as a result of overwork.
One day, while cutting firewood in the mountains, he began to experienced intense pain in his lower back. So strong was the pain that he grabbed onto a nearby tree and bit into it’s bark. In doing so, he unwittingly sucked some juice from the tree bark, and to his surprise, his pain soon disappeared.
“It felt like I was dying from the pain, but this time it disappeared after I sucked some juice from this tree bark,” he thought.
He looked at the bark curiously and found that it was different from the other trees. “Maybe this is good for my lumbago,” he thought and stripped off some bark to take home.
Du Zhong later decided to decoct (boil down) the bark for his neighbor, who also suffered from lumbago. After drinking a few bowls of the decoction, the neighbor was also cured.
People in other villages soon heard about this and those who suffered from lumbago visited Du Zhong and were also cured by the decoction, and the bark was thus named “du zhong.”
In traditional Chinese medicine, Eucommia bark is first harvested and dried. Then it is sliced to expose the inside of the bark. Finally it is boiled to make a decoction.
Usually this decoction is combined with other herbs to create a tonic that enhances the yang (warming) energy in the body. It helps people with backaches, headaches, dizziness, and weak legs, and it is also good for the liver and kidneys.
Du zhong can also be made into a soup.
Du Zhong Chicken Soup
1 whole young chicken, rinsed and drained
½ ounce (14 grams) of Eucommia bark
5–6 red dates
1 piece fresh ginger root about ½-inch long
2 stalks scallions
Put all of the above ingredients into a slow cooker; add enough water to just cover the chicken. Simmer the chicken for 7–8 hours, and then discard the ginger and scallions. Add salt to taste.
Sophie Xiao writes for China Gaze, the English edition of the popular Chinese website and newspaper Kanzhongguo. Kanzhongguo offers a window into the philosophy, culture, and beauty of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization. ChinaGaze.com
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