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Eucommia Bark: A Treatment for Backache

Eucommia ulmoides. (Sten Porse/Wikipedia)
Eucommia ulmoides. (Sten Porse/Wikipedia)

Eucommia bark looks just like tree bark, yet it prevents pain in the back and legs. It is also 1 of the 50 fundamental herbs used in Chinese herbology. 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 pain in the muscles and joints of his lower back as a result of overworking, otherwise known as lumbago.

One day, while cutting firewood in the mountains, he experienced this pain in his back. Due to the intensity of the pain, he held onto a tree and bit tightly on the bark. In doing so, he unwittingly sucked some juice from the tree bark.

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 some to take home.

Du Zhong later decided to decoct the bark for his neighbor, who also suffered from lumbago. After drinking a few bowls of the decoction, the neighbour was also cured. People of other villages soon heard about this. Those who suffered from lumbago visited Du Zhong and were also cured by the decoction.

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. Following this, it is boiled to make a decoction. Usually this decoction is combined with other herbs to create a tonic that enhances the yang energy in the body. It helps people with backache, headache, dizziness, and weak legs, and it is also good for the liver and kidneys.

Du zhong can also be concocted into a soup.

Du Zhong Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

1. 1 whole young chicken, rinsed and drained

2. 15g Eucommia bark

3. 5-6 pieces Red dates

4. 1/2 inch fresh ginger

5. 2 stalks scallions

Method:

  • 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, then discard the ginger and scallions.
  • Finally, add some salt.

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