Bamboo As Food and Medicine

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Bamboo is rich in minerals and high in fiber, which can be a great addition to any nutritious, balanced diet. Bamboo offers a variety of different amino acids, including eight types of amino acids that humans must obtain from a dietary source because the body does not manufacture those specific amino acids in the body. While most would need to eat different types of food to get these eight different amino acids, you can get them all in one serving by including bamboo in your diet! Imagine eating one serving of bamboo versus multiple servings of fruits and vegetables.

Most dishes focus on the bamboo shoots, which are tender and delicious vegetables. Once cured, the bamboo is virtually inedible. But sprouts are used in various recipes such as bamboo candy, beer, chutney and even soup.

Similar to fruits and vegetables, shoots also have a season. Since the sprout flowering period lasts only one to four months a year, sprouts are not available all year round. Bamboo vinegar was also made for several reasons, including medicinal uses. Bamboo vinegar has been used to treat various stomach ailments.

Indeed, as bamboo shoots become more popular in western cultures, harvesting of shoots can be not only a food source but also an economic one. Rural communities that depend on bamboo shoots for sustenance can now rely on bamboo shoots for a source of income and economic growth in their small communities. In this way, the entire planet can give back.

As a medicine, bamboo can be used for a variety of ailments, for example intestinal diseases such as diarrhea. It is also believed to promote healthy bodily functions such as the female menstrual cycle and while the bamboo leaves are known to be antispasmodic and blood secreting. Boiling the leaves and mixing them with palm jaggery can induce labor in pregnant women or lead to spontaneous abortion of a fetus earlier in pregnancy. Bamboo shoots themselves aid in the digestion of proteins and may promote stomach function. While most of these claims are not fully backed by scientific evidence, the practice has been common in certain cultures for centuries and has proven quite effective over the years.

Bamboo has a rich history in Asian cultures as a material for strength and construction, but little else is known about its nutritional and medicinal properties. Yet as more bamboo is researched and explored, we are learning more about this special and unique grass that panda bears have enjoyed for centuries. Whether you’re looking for a simple digestive aid or a beautiful addition to your garden landscape, bamboo has a lot to offer if you give it a chance. If pandas can eat sprouts and leaves, it’s not so unreasonable that we can too!

Thanks to Paul S Fitzgerald

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