Gastrodia tea has been known to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine for at least 1,900 years as being potent for “wind” in the liver, as well as convulsive ailments. The roots of the gastrodia herb, known in China as tian ma, are noted for their carminative, cholagogue, analgesic, sedative and antispasmodic qualities while the stem is known for its tonic and aphrodisiac properties.
Scientifically known as gastrodia elata, this herb is a perennial that belongs to the Orchidaceae family. It is native to a wide swath of the Asian continent, from Japan, China, North Korea and the Siberian region in the east and northeast Asia to Bhutan, Nepal and Northern India.
The gastrodia orchid plant is characterized by an upright orange-colored leafless stem that grows up to a height of 2 meters. It has lance-shaped floral bracts that are about 1 centimeter long. It has a petal and sepal that produce a slanting perianth tube. The labellum or mouth of the flower is typically white and circular. The pistil column is about 7 millimeters long. Gastrodia flowers usually bloom during the months of June and July while the fruits appear during the subsequent months.
Meanwhile the roots of the plant, where the bulk of its medicinal properties can be found, is about 10 centimeters long and has a diameter of about 5 centimeters. Gastrodia tea benefits can be derived from the active constituents of the roots including 4-Hydroxybenzaldehyde and gastrodine.
Gastrodia tea is typically made by boiling the dried roots for about 20 to 25 minutes. Let it cool off for about 7 minutes, discard the roots, then drink. If the roots already come in powdered form, making the tea is as simple as placing a handful of the powder in a mug of newly-boiled water. Let it stand for about 5 minutes before drinking. Powdered gastrodia roots may be taken in doses of 1-1.5 grams per day each time, twice or thrice each day.
The gastrodia elata plant historically grew in the wild but due to its useful medicinal properties, Chinese herbalists endeavored to cultivate the plant. However, they were not successful in doing so until biologists discovered that the plant needs two fungi in order to survive and reproduce. It needs the soil fungi called Armillaria mellea (typically found in rotting wood) for nutrition; and requires a second fungus called Mycena osmundicola to create the edible tuber and occasionally produce flowering stems.
The following are the health benefits attributed to this herbal brew:
- May be helpful against ailments with convulsions such as tetanus and epilepsy.
- May help fight pains such as headaches and rheumatoid arthritis.
- May help fight dizziness and vertigo.
- Might be helpful in the treatment of mild vascular dementia and moderate cognitive impairment.
- May also be used to find numbness.