Bamboo As Food and Medicine
Bamboo is rich in minerals and high in fiber, which can be a great addition to any nutritious, well balanced diet. Bamboo offers a variety of different amino acids, including eight types of amino acids that humans must receive from a food source, since the body does not manufacture these certain amino acids within the body. While most would have to eat several different types of foods to receive these eight different amino acids, by including bamboo in your diet, you can receive them all in one serving! Imagine, eating one serving of bamboo versus choking down on several servings of fruits and vegetables.
Most food choices center on the shoots of the bamboo, which are tender and delicious vegetables. Once it hardens, the bamboo is practically inedible. But shoots are used in different recipes, such as bamboo candy, beer, chutney and even soup.
Much like fruits and vegetables, shoots have a season too. Since shoot blooming season only last one to four months a year, shoots are not readily available year round. Bamboo vinegar has also been produced for multiple reasons, including medicinal purposes. Bamboo vinegar has been used to treat various stomach disorders.
With bamboo shoots becoming more popular in western cultures, shooting harvesting can actually be not only a food source, but an economic one as well. Rural communities which rely on bamboo shoots for food can now rely on bamboo shoots as a source of revenue and economic growth within their small communities. It is a way that the entire planet can give back.
As medicine, bamboo can be used for a variety of ailments, such as intestinal disorders like diarrhea. It is also thought to promote healthy body functions, like the female menstrual cycle and while the bamboo leaves are known as an anti-spasmodic and blood secretion. Boiling the leaves and mixing it with palms jaggery can induce labor in pregnant women or cause a spontaneous abortion of a fetus earlier in the pregnancy. Bamboo shoots itself aids in digestion of proteins and can promote stomach functions. While most of these claims are not completely substantiated by scientific evidence, the practice has been in place in certain cultures for centuries and 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 of its food and medicinal properties. Yet, as bamboo is explored and researched more, we learn more about this special and unique grass that panda bears have been enjoying for centuries. So whether you are looking for a simple stomach digestion aide or a nice addition to your backyard landscape, bamboo has much to offer you, if you will give it a chance. If pandas can eat shoots and leaves, it is not so unreasonable that we can too!