Gift guide part 5: Traditional Chinese medicine

Gift guide part 5: Traditional Chinese medicine

Need a last-minute present? Forget the ties and cufflinks, go for a memorable gift that also allows friends and family to celebrate the holidays in good health

It might feel odd to receive medicine as a gift. "Do I look ill?" you might wonder. However, in Shanghai, as in all of China, the gift of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has always been an important present for those you care about.

Traditional Chinese medicine uses theories regarding the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) and two ever-changing factors (yin and yang) to diagnose and treat the body. Herbs are boiled into a soup or tea and taken to cure illness or bring about natural balance and alignment.

Although you might feel like this is a weird gift wrapped in attractive packaging, these herbs are anything but.

Doctor diagnosis

Traditional Chinese medicine gifts

“To diagnose a condition using Chinese medicine, first we determine your body’s warmth and then the body’s qi [energy]. People who don’t sleep well should decrease their energy,” says Dr Chen Ji Ming from Xing Hua Clinic (Xing Hua Diduan Yiyuan). A visit with a TCM doctor costs RMB 8.5. Bring a translator.

Xing Hua Clinic,
1467 Huashan Lu, near Huanan Lu 华山路1476号, 近湖南路


Dang gui

Traditional Chinese medicine gifts

Literally translated as “missing one’s husband”, dang gui is boiled in soup and helps smooth out the blood (huoxie). Dang gui is very beneficial to women, particularly once a month. RMB 25 (about 10 servings).

Yaofang Liansuo Youxian Gongsi (Shanghai’s chain pharmacy), 117 Rui Jin Er Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 瑞金二路117号, 近复兴中路, +86 21 6437 3813



Huang qi

Traditional Chinese medicine gifts

“People often buy huang qi in the winter because they exercise less. It helps increase internal energy and brings warmth,” says Ms Mao, a pharmacist at Yaofang Liansuo Youxian Gongsi. Boiled in soup, one RMB 20 bottle makes about 10 servings.

Yaofang Liansuo Youxian Gongsi, 117 Rui Jin Er Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 瑞金二路117号, 近复兴中路, +86 21 6437 3813

Feng doo root

Traditional Chinese medicine gifts

Steeped in tea or soup, Feng dou root from Yunnan Province helps reduce mental stress by increasing the body’s heat. This root is both rare and efficacious so it carries a heavier price, from RMB 125-900 per box.

Yaofang Liansuo Youxian Gongsi, 117 Rui Jin Er Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 瑞金二路117号, 近复兴中路, +86 21 6437 3813

Bai shen

Traditional Chinese medicine gifts

Bai shen (white ginseng) is brewed in tea to increase the body’s natural energy. “People who are easily tired and cold should increase their energy (jiaqi),” says Dr Chen Ji Ming. RMB 15 RMB for 50g.

Yaofang Liansuo Youxian Gongsi, 117 Rui Jin Er Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 瑞金二路117号, 近复兴中路, +86 21 6437 3813

Xi yang shen

Traditional Chinese medicine gifts

Western ginseng (xi yang shen) is used to decrease the body’s heat (qinghuo). “If someone has sweaty hands and a dry mouth, they should decrease their temperature,” says Dr Chen Ji Ming. Prices range from RMB 50-100 per gram.

Huifeng Da Yaofang, 1937 Huashan Lu, near Guangyuan Lu 华山路1937号, 近广元路

Hong shen

Traditional Chinese medicine gifts

Hong shen (red ginseng) is used to increase the body’s heat (jiawen). “If someone has cold hands and feels like food has no flavor, they should increase their heat,” says Dr Chen Ji Ming. RMB 70 per 50g.

Yaofang Liansuo Youxian Gongsi, 117 Rui Jin Er Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 瑞金二路117号, 近复兴中路, +86 21 6437 3813

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