The rich folklore of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) brims with numerous intriguing tales. One such tale from yesteryears centers around a plant known as Chinese yam, or Shanyao. The lore takes us back to a time when two kingdoms were locked in fierce warfare. After suffering defeat, soldiers from the vanquished kingdom took refuge on a mountain, only to be surrounded by the victorious army.
Despite a year-long siege, the surrounded soldiers remained steadfast and, miraculously, showed no signs of weakening. The secret to their survival and subsequent victory was their discovery of a plant abundant on the mountain – the Chinese yam. Its sizeable roots served as sustenance for the soldiers, earning it the moniker, "mountain medicine."
Belonging to the Dioscoreaceae family, the Chinese yam holds significant value in traditional Chinese medicine for its medicinal properties. This herb is known as "mountain medicine" in Chinese, scientifically referred to as Dioscorea opposita Thunb. and Dioscorea batatas Decaisne. In pharmaceutical terms, it's known as Rhizoma Dioscoreae and Rhizoma Batatatis.
The tuberous root of this herb is the part used in traditional medicine. A typical dosage is around 15g, boasting a sweet taste and neutral energy, making it an excellent choice for herbal remedies.
The Chinese yam is categorized under herbs used to correct deficiencies. It interacts with the spleen, stomach, lungs, and kidneys - the crucial channels in Chinese medicine.
Shanyao has multiple actions. It's employed to strengthen the spleen and stomach, alleviate diarrhea, and boost the lungs and kidneys' functions. These properties make it an exceptional choice for various indications such as spleen deficiency with poor appetite, chronic diarrhea, seminal emission, vaginal discharge, and even diabetes.
Modern research also supports these traditional claims. According to several experiments, Shanyao can effectively reduce blood sugar levels. It's particularly beneficial in addressing diarrhea associated with spleen deficiency and vaginal discharge in women, further cementing its role as a potent mountain medicine.
In conclusion, the Chinese yam, or Shanyao, is an invaluable part of traditional Chinese medicine. Rooted in fascinating folklore, this "mountain medicine" continues to offer numerous health benefits, highlighting the relevance and richness of ancient Chinese medicinal wisdom in contemporary times.