Poor Circulation?…..Try Some Water with Dried Longan Fruit

The other day I went for a massage. It was MUCH needed after 6 weeks of traveling with my kids and lots of lifting, sitting and flying. My body was full of aches and pains. The therapist I saw was an interesting guy from China who, upon noticing that my hands and feet felt cold, and my neck and shoulders very tense, had some recommendations for me. He suggested a warm morning drink made with water, dried longan fruit, red date and ginger, explaining that it’s a common drink for Chinese women to improve circulation and help with relaxation. I’m game to trying anything that is natural and helps with relaxation! Since I was already in the Inner Richmond district of San Francisco, home to a large Chinese community and many great Asian markets, I decided to pick up the ingredients straight away and give the concoction a try.

At the market, I discovered that dried longan fruit is also known as Long Yan Rou and is closely related to the lychee. And, Red Dates are actually just another name for jujubes. This new drink was sounding better and better! Adding ginger to my water is something I already enjoy (more on that in a future post) but the other two ingredients were new to me and I really had no idea how to prep them for water. Both the dried fruits are the consistency of Medjool dates….so, I assumed that some soaking was in order but was certainly open to more guidance on this.

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The three and hopefully magical ingredients for my warm water beverage

A Google search for ideas on how to make this enticing drink, as well as more information on the properties of each ingredient was in order. First, I researched each ingredient on Wikipedia to find out more about the medicinal properties. Here’s what I learned:

Red Dates: Commonly called jujubes, Chinese dates, Korean dates, or Indian dates are a species of Ziziphus in the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae). The fruit and its seeds are used in Chinese and Korean traditional medicine, where they are believed to alleviate stress. In addition to this they are used for many other purposes, including anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory and their wound healing properties.

Longan Fruit: One of the better-known tropical members of the soapberry family (Sapindaceae), to which the lychee also belongs. In Chinese food therapy and herbal medicine, the longan is believed to have an effect on relaxation. The longan, much like the lychee, it’s thought to give internal “heat”.

Ginger: A flowering plant (Zingiber officinale) whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine. Ginger is one of the oldest and most versatile medicinal foods and in China it’s been used by healers for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that ginger “restores devastated yang” and “expels cold”. Ginger has many believed uses including reducing muscle soreness and inflammation, alleviating nausea and helping digestion. 

Now that I better understood the ingredients, I was ready to use them! I didn’t find much when I Googled this exact combination, but I did find many recipes with ginger and red dates, many of which included goji berries. The closest recipe I found was on a lovely blog called A Beautiful Day and I used this recipe as my reference, omitting the pear and pine nuts.

Here is what I added to 10 cups of filtered water:

25 dried red dates, pitted and sliced

10 dried longans

2 inch chunk of peeled ginger, sliced thinly

After prepping, boiling, simmering for an hour, and finally straining, my drink remedy was ready! I let it cool to a lukewarm temperature and then gave it a try.

It was quite interesting and, based on the profile of the ingredients, more medicinal tasting than I expected, . Right away, I could see why the recipe on A Beautiful Day called for pear because the drink had a bit of a bitter quality and needed something a little sweet to offset this. I added a tiny bit of honey and it became much more enjoyable to drink. I found it very soothing and cozy. It reminded me of Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea, which for years has been a favorite product of mine and something I always have on hand.

I’ve now been enjoying this medicinal water for a few days and have tried it both warm and cold (the batch I made yielded enough for at least one cup daily for a week). I definitely prefer it more as a warm tea-type beverage. And, while I don’t know if it has had any true efficacy on my health, it’s something I’m glad I tried and will make again. It was fun to experiment with new-to-me ingredients that have so many believed healing properties.

 

 

Part 2: The Magic of Lemon and Honey in Water

As promised, I wanted to write about the myriad of reasons why warm water with lemon and honey is so good for you — especially in the morning when you first wake up.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about feeling really crummy and how hot water with lemon and honey helped me get through each day, you can read more about how this concoction helps a cold here: https://momloveswater.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/oh-honey-thanks-for-the-honey-with-lemon-in-hot-water/ This soothing drink made me feel so cozy and good that I’ve continued to drink it. So, I’m happy to know that this mixture’s go way beyond helping the common cold.

Here are 10 other reasons to drink this yummy medicinal combination:

  1. Stimulates Digestive System: Warm water with lemon and honey in the morning simply stimulates the digestive system and gets things moving.
  2. Improves Oral Health: The acidic nature of lemon combined with the innate properties of honey and water can help beat bad breath almost instantly. The lemon cleanses the mouth, activating your salivary glands and killing offensive bacteria. When added to honey and water, it helps wash down bacteria and degraded food that is usually present in your mouth and throat early in the morning.
  3. Helps The Waistline: Apart from its properties of cleansing the stomach, lemon contains a type of fiber called pectin, that helps make you feel full and keeps cravings at bay. Warm water, honey and lemon  also creates a more alkaline atmosphere in your stomach helping  you lose weight faster.
  4. Cleanses the Colon: A build-up of toxins in the stomach often makes us feel bloated. Even worse than this feeling, this same build-up (consisting of undigested food, intestinal cells and dead bacteria) often coats the inner lining of our stomach and is thought to lead to diseases. By drinking Lemon and honey in warm water the walls of the intestine – especially the colon – get stimulated, which leads to the expulsion of this build-up. A cleansed colon functions much better, thereby, helping your body absorb nutrients, get rid of toxins and stay hydrated.
  5. Flushes Out Toxins And Boosts Immune System:  The components of lemon stimulate your liver to produce more bile and help your digestive system by flushing out unwanted toxins. Honey acts as an antibacterial and helps beat any infections that might be present in your body.
  6. Improves Energy And Mood: Water helps clear your mind by providing fresh blood to your brain, lemon activates negatively charged enzymes in your stomach and improves digestion, and honey acts as an instant energy booster. What’s more, the scent of lemon is known to be a natural relaxant and can help uplift your mood.
  7. Cleanses Urinary Tract: Honey is a potent antibacterial agent, that has the capability to beat a number of common infections. When mixed with lemon and water, two agents that act as excellent diuretics, this concoction is the best way to cleanse your urinary tract. This mixture is especially good for women who suffer from frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) as it will keep recurrent infections at bay.
  8. Aids in Clearer Skin: As said above, lemon helps purify your blood which also helps in the production of new blood cells which act as potent cleaning agents. Water and honey offer unique restorative, antibacterial and collagen boosting properties to your skin as well.
  9. Hydrates Entire Lymphatic System: Research says that a dehydrated lymphatic system is a leading causes of illness. Lack of water and essential fluids in the lymphatic system can make you feel sluggish and fatigued, lead to constipation, disturbed sleep, high or low blood pressure, stress and an all-round lack in mental function. The benefit of drinking this mixture early in the morning is that it helps hydrate your entire lymphatic system, which not only helps all of the above symptoms but also improves immunity.
  10. Tastes Delicious: This doesn’t need any explanation — just give it a try! Use warm (not hot) water, add the juice of around half a lemon and one teaspoon of honey, mix well and drink.
Honey and Lemon are two Powerful Ingredients. Image from: http://www.babydigezt.com

Honey and Lemon are two Powerful Ingredients. Image from: http://www.babydigezt.com

Although this drink will always provide some benefit, if you drink warm water with lemon and honey first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, you will reap much more. Additionally, for full benefit, you shouldn’t drink coffee or tea for at least one hour after (I’m still working on my timing and I definitely haven’t worked up to waiting an hour to drink my morning cup of java).

Thanks to The Health Site for helping me explain the content on my list http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/why-drinking-water-early-in-the-morning-good-for-health-p214/