Yakuzen Food as Medicine


Food as Medicine (yakuzen)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


yakuzen, yaku-zen 薬膳 ( やくぜん) "Eating Medicine"
vegetarian health cooking , medicinal food dishes, cooking with traditional Chinese herbal remedies

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

source : www.yakuzen.com/

Dishes prepared according to the teachings of Chinese traditional medicine (kanpoo).
Including the ingredients given below and more. Many small dishes of all varieties are served, according to the season and to the condition of the patient, if a doctor prescribes it.
The food should consider the hot/cold condition and have plenty of fibers, vitamins and minerals.

shooyaku 生薬 herbal medicine
Naturheilmittel, Kräutermedizin
In Chinese it is chuuyaku 中薬(ちゅうやく).

Yakuzen is based on the traditional Chinese medical science. It is tailor-made food which has its focus on the environment in which people live, climate, physical environment, the seasons of the region). The physical constitutions of an individual is also considered to create a meal adapted to these factors and the special medical properties of the ingredients.
Yakuzen developed in the Asian food culture, in Japan, China, and South Korea and is a kind of traditional health food, which is reconsidered and re-evaluated in its use lately.


benibana 紅花(こうか, kooka) べにばな afflower
The dried flowers (kooka) improve blood circulation.
Used in yoomeishuu 養命酒 herb sake.
Sometimes used in moxibustion herbs.
Färbersaflor, Färberdistel,Carthamus tinctorius.

fukahire ふかひれ shark fin and chicken contain a lot of collagen.
アンチエイジング to keep you young, eat tako octopus and vegetables of the season.

hasu no mi 蓮の実 lotus fruit
good in case of constipacy
Lotosfrucht. Nelumbo nucifera.

hachi kafun 蜂花粉 bee pollen

. kanzoo 甘草(かんぞう) licorice root .
マメ科のカンゾウの根. Fam. Glycyrrhiza
Süßholz; Lakritze

kinshinsai 金針菜(きんしんさい)kind of day lily bud
kigo for summer.
ユリ科のホンカンゾウの花のつぼみ kansoo no hana no tsubomi
yabu hookan ヤブカンゾウ(藪萱草) Hemerocallis fulva var. kwanso
Young leaves are also eaten with vinegar or miso. Mostly eaten in soup.
The bulb is also used as medicine.

kodaimai 古代米 (こだいまい) ancient black rice
choojuumai ちょうじゅまい (長寿米)rice to live long
Improves blood quality. Contains potassium, calcium and various kinds of vitamins.
comes in three colors
Red rice …  non-glutinous rice containing tannin
Black rice … glutinous rice containing anthocyanin
Green rice … glutinous rice containing chlorophyll


koorai ninjin (こうらいにんじん) 高麗人参 ginseng
Korean ginseng. Panax ginseng
... choosen ninjin 朝鮮人参(ちようせんにんじん)

During the Edo period, they were imported from China (via Nagasaki) and thus very expensive. Thus only rich patients could afford them, but not the poor townspeople

. Tanuma Okitsugu 田沼意次 .
around 1760 encouraged their planting in Japan. He offered positions as "ministers" (bakushin 幕臣) to the scholars of kanpo medicine plants.

Japanese ginseng 東洋参 (Panax japonicus)


kuko no mi クコの実
keeps the body cool and strong
Frucht vom chinesischen Bocksdorn. Lycium chinense

mamushi まむし (蝮 ) poisonous snake,
mamushi pit viper
nihon mamushi 日本蝮 (ニホンマムシ) Gloydius blomhoffii
CLICK for more photos
It grows about 40 to 60 cm. The body is brown with lighter stripes and spots. The head is triangular. It usually gets out of the way if people make enough noise when walking outside in mamushi coutry. So just stomp your feet!
Its liver and blood is used as a tonic drinc to revitalize.
The gall bladder jatan 蛇胆(じゃたん(通称じゃったん))
The skin is removed and the rest dried to get to the Chinese medicine called KANPI 反鼻(はんぴ), also a revitalizing medicine.
In Japan, the dried or raw meat is put into strong liquor to make a mamushi schnaps, mamushizake マムシ酒(まむしざけ). This is also helpful to put on infected wounds.
Giftschlange . Agkistrodon blomhoffi.

In Kansai, the word mamushi means manmeshi まんめし, rice with eel.

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matsu no mi 松の実 pine seeds, pine nuts, pine kernels
strenghten the body, make the body warm. Improve skin conditions. Balance the inner organs. Improve brain function. Good for the elderly and reconvalsecent.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
Pinienkerne. 海松子(かいしょうし))「松子仁」(しょうしにん、しょうしじん shooshinin, shoohsijin )、「松子」(しょうし shooshi "Child of the pine")
in Europe, pine nuts come from the Stone Pine (Pinus pinea), which has been cultivated for its nuts for over 6,000 years, and harvested from wild trees for far longer. The Swiss Pine (Pinus cembra) is also used to a very small extent.
In Asia, two species are widely harvested, Korean Pine (Pinus koraiensis) in northeast Asia (the most important species in international trade), and Chilgoza Pine (Pinus gerardiana) in the western Himalaya. Four other species, Siberian Pine (Pinus sibirica), Siberian Dwarf Pine (Pinus pumila), Chinese White Pine (Pinus armandii) and Lacebark Pine (Pinus bungeana), are also used to a lesser extent.

Throughout Europe and Middle East the pine nuts used are from Pinus pinea (Stone Pine). They are easily distinguished from the Asian pine nuts by their more slender shape and more homogeneous flesh. Due to the lower price, Asian pine nuts are also often used, especially in cheaper preparations.Pine nuts contain thiamine, vitamin B1 and and protein. Many dieters eat pine nuts because of their proven ability to suppress hunger.
The pine nuts involved typically contain triglycerides formed by 16-18° unsaturated fatty acids. No contamination with pesticide residues or heavy metals was found.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

monkoo ika, kaminari ika 紋甲いか/ カミナリイカ /紋甲烏賊(もんごういか)
cuttlefish, squid, Sepia
it has spots on the back KO like a pattern MON.
kooika 甲いか, yoroppa kooika ヨーロッパコーイカ
often used for sushi, sliced cuttlefish
It helps the blood circulation, best eaten with kuko no mi


mozuku もずく(水雲/海蘊)
An alga-like seaweed served in a vinegary sauce.
Nemacystis decipiens. Seegras-Art
kigo for spring

futo mozuku フトモズク Tinocladia crassa
ishi mozuku イシモズク Sphaerotrichia divaricata
Okinawa mozuku オキナワモズク Cladosiphon okamuranus
iwa mozuku 岩モズク "rock-mosuku"
shio mozuku 塩もずく salted mozuku
kinu mozuku 絹もずく "silken mozuku"

Mozuku has long been used in Okinawa for health food in the traditional Chinese way.
It is already mentioned in literature from the Heian period, written as 毛都久.
It is said when you wash your hands with mozuku it keeps women's hands soft and moist. The reason is maybe the slimy composition of mozuku. It is based on the physiological effects of the polysaccharide known as fucoidan.
More than 90% of mozuku comes from Okinawa. The young buds in spring are collected and preserved in salt. Lately less salt and more vinegar is used. It can also be eaten with a quail egg and some grated ginger on it or in zoosui rice porridge.
mozukujiru 海雲汁(もずくじる)soup with mozuku
mozuku tori 海雲採(もずくとり)harvesting mozuku
mozuku uri 海雲売(もずくうり)vendor of mozuku
mozuku oke 海雲桶(もずくおけ) barrel for mozuku

mozuku soomen もずくそうめん somen-noodles with mozuku
mozukusu もずく酢 vinegared mosuku
Itoman mozuku 糸満もずく from Itoman/Okinawa

Sold in little cups with differently flavored vinegar like sanbaizu or yuzu citron and vinegar.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

The third sunday in April is the "day of mozuku" (mozuku no hi もずくの日).
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


natsume なつめ 棗 date, dates
natsume no mi 棗の実 (なつめのみ)
aonatsume, ao natsume 青棗(あおなつめ) green dates
kigo for early autumn
Ziziphus jujuba
Sanebutu natsume サネブトナツメ are used for yakuzen.
The dried fruit are called daisoo 大棗(たいそう), the kernels sansoonin 酸棗仁(さんそうにん)
Revitalizes the body, helps improve sleep.
Dattel, Datteln

natsume no hana 棗の花 (なつめのはな) date blossoms
kigo for early summer

. Dukh-Bhanjani Beri tree .
Sacred jujube tree in the Golden Temple, Amritsar, India


ryuugan リュウガン(竜眼、龍眼) "dragon eye"
fruit are dried ryuugan niku 竜眼肉(りゅうがんにく). Balance heart and body, help blood circulation strenghten the body. Improve sleep. Given to reconvalescents or after childbirth. Good for weak stomach functions.
Family Mukuroji, Sapindaceae

sanshoo 山椒 さんしょう "mountain pepper"
heats the body
Japanischer Pfeffer

sanzan no mi サンザシの実
Crataegus cuneata, of the rose family
The fruit are dried. Good for digestion. Sometimes used in liquor extract サンザシ酒.
Used in mochi 山査子餅 and other sweets.

shiro kigurage 銀耳(ぎんじ)/ 白木耳(しろきくらげ)
white tree jellyfish
kikurage : Judasohr,Holunderschwamm. Auricularia auricula.


toogan とうがん(冬瓜) white gourd-melon; a wax gourd
winter melon
..... kamouri, kamo uri かもうり
tooganjiru 冬瓜汁(とうがじる) wax-gourd soup
Wintermelone. Benincasa hispida
made in a chicken soup. Eaten in summer to take the heat out of the body, good for natsubate summer fatigue.

kintooga 紅冬瓜 (きんとうが) "red wax gourd"
kintooga 紅南瓜(きんとうが)、kintooga 金冬瓜(きんとうが)
akoda uri 阿古陀瓜(あこだうり)

kigo for eraly autumn

toogan ya tagai ni kawaru kao no nari

Matsuo Basho

. Faces and Haiku .


yurine, byakkoo 百合(びゃくごう)lily bulbs
see below.


Fresh food of the season is the best medicine.

The liver needs to be active, but is maybe still weak. You want to boost the physical power.
Shellfish, salmon, celery, apples, potatoes. Yaakon ヤーコンvegetable,

Heat will affect the heart.
Cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, banana, pinapple, oranges to cool the body. Eggplants, seaweed.

Autum :
Dry air might affect the lungs.
Radish to warm your lungs.

Cold affects the blood circulation.
Oysters, carottes, radishs and other rood vegetables. Ginger, leek, mochigome rice, beef or chicken or deer. Korean ginseng 高麗人参
Keep the body warm, strengthen the kidneys.

yurine 百合根 Lilium auratum



Cooked rice with wolfberry leaves (kuko meshi) Japan

Tonburi berries from Akita

Deafness-curing sake (jirooshu)


ishoku doogen 医食同源 ( いしょくどうげん)
yakushoku-dogen 薬食同源 (yakushoku-dougen)
"medicines and foods share the same origin"
Medicine and Food are both used to support the human body and keep it healthy. So you should eat proper food every day to stay healthy.
Medizin und Essen komme aus der gleichen Quelle.
Building physical and mental health through everyday meals is important.

The dishes are ment to increase the well-being of healthy people, based on the Chinese learning about the human body.


Using Chinese and Japanese medicien with food
Many Chinese restaurants in Japan offer some kind of Yakuzen Lunch 薬膳ランチ or Yakuzen course 薬膳コースランチ .

Nara Yakuzen Ryori
with fresh vegetables from the area, some have been introduced by the monks who studied in China.

Shimane prefecture 島根県 グルメ
There are many restaurants which offer this food of the season with local produce.
和風薬膳料理 Japanese style Yakuzen
洋風薬膳料理 Western style Yakuzen
中華薬膳料理 Chinese style Yakuzen

wafuu soosaku yakuzen ryoori 和風創作薬膳料理
和風薬膳料理 wafuu yakuzen ryoori
Chinese medicine food, in Japanese style
CLICK for more photos
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

yakuzen karee 薬膳カレー Yakuzen curry
bean curry cooked “yakuzen-style”
CLICK for more photos
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

yakuzen kaiseki 薬膳懐石 やくぜんかいせき
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

yakuzen nabe 薬膳鍋 “Kanpo Pot”, herb pot
sometimes more than 30 herbs are used
It can come in a special pot with two sides of different tasts. It keeps the body warm in winter.
CLICK for more
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

yakuzen raamen 薬膳ラーメン
ramen noodle soup with medical ingredients
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
ingredients vary in the season. kokkei chicken 烏骨鶏, suppon turtle, Korean ginseng 高麗人参 and many herbs.
A bit of vinegar to help digestion.

Worldwide use

In the times before the advent of modern western medicine, Asia relied heavily on the use of traditional remedies, medical plants and minerals and then prayers to the various deities !

medicine from China, kanpoo, kanpooyaku 漢方薬
as used in Japan
In this LINK are some kigo related to the word "medicine 薬".

Juuyaku 十薬, dokudami (Houttuynia cordata),
a strong medical plant, literally "worth ten medicines".
kigo for summer

Koojusan 香需散

Perilla, beefsteak plant, shiso 紫蘇
kigo for summer

"eating medicine" kusuri gui 薬喰
kigo for all winter

medicine (cream) for split skin on hands and feet
hibi gusuri 胼薬(ひびぐすり)
kigo for late winter

"medicine day" kusuri no hi 薬の日
kigo for mid-summer

"water of God", shinzui, shinsui
神水 (しんずい, しんすい)
"it is raining medicine", kusuri furu 薬降る (くすり ふる)
kigo for mid-summer

"digging for medicine", kusuri horu 薬掘る
kigo for late autumn
collecting medicine, kusuri toru 薬採る(くすりとる)

Daranisuke 陀羅尼助 topicIt
is made by boiling the bark of the Chinese cork tree (kihada キハダ, Phellodendron amurense) for a while.

Chinese Medicine (kanpo), medicine (kusuri) 漢方薬

Heartleaf, lizardtail, dokudami ドクダミ, juuyaku 鱼腥草

Things found on the way

eating disorders 摂食障害

kyoshokushoo 拒食症
anorexia アノレキシア Magersucht

kashokushoo 過食症 Overeating and vomiting
ブリミア bulimia. Bulimie, Ess-Brech-Sucht


observance kigo for the New Year

mikusuri o kuuzu 御薬を供ず offering honorable medicine
..... toso 屠蘇(とそ)ritual ricewine
byakusan 白散(びゃくさん)
doshoosan, toshoosan 度嶂散(どしょうさん)
kusurigo 薬子(くすりご)"child drinking medicine"

The original name was toso enmei san 屠蘇延命散 medicine to prolong life.
It was introduced from China in the Heian period for the Emperor Saga Tenno 嵯峨天皇 and been offered at court on the third day of the New Year. Later during the Edo period it became a habit of the townspeople.

The tradition of drinking toso at the New Year began in the Tang Dynasty in China, and was adopted by Japanese aristocrats during the Heian period. The first cup drunk would be made with tososan, and the second and third cups with different varieties called byakusan and toshōsan.
. First Court Rituals .


yasooji haru yakuzengayu de sashimukai

my 80es birthday
this spring again I welcome it
with medicine ricesoup

小田利吉 Oda Tookichi


yakuzen ni yoote wakaba no saka no michi

drunk from eating medicine -
the walk uphill amongst
young green leaves

後藤智津子 Gotoo Mitsuko

Related words

kenkoo shokuhin 健康食品 health food diet, macrobiotics

futsukayoi ふつかよい(二日酔い/ 宿酔 )
hangover and its natural remedies

***** WASHOKU : General Information



Gabi Greve - Washoku said...

Celery and burdock root mixed with white sesame.

Celery was brought to Japan during Toyotomi Hideyoshi's rule in 1592. It is believed that one of Hideyoshi's generals, Kato Kiyomasa, first brought it back from Korea. Elements contained in celery helps calm irritation, relax the nerves and detox the liver. This dish is recommended for relieving stress.

The Samurai Gourmet

Gabi Greve said...

Sennin no tabemono 仙人の食べ物 Food of the Sennin
The Elixir of Life and Immortality

仙人は霞を食べて生きている Sennin are eating dew and mist . . .