1.1 What is a sugarcane?
Sugarcane (also known as sugar cane, botanical name: Saccharum officinarum; Chinese Pinyin: Gan Zhe, Simplified Chinese: 甘蔗), is a species of tall, perennial, erect, flowering grass in genus Saccharum in the grasses family, Poaceae. The term sugarcane can refer to the whole plant as well as the chewable stem of the plant. The flowers are arrowing tassels, each of them is consisting of several thousand tiny flowers. The edible (chewable) stem is straight, between 2-4 cm in diameter, 3-5 m in length with greenish, yellowish, brown, pinkish, or purple skin.
Native to southeast Asia and extensively cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions around the world (in areas with at least 800 mm of annual rainfall), habitats of sugarcane include fields, orchards, flatlands, roadsides and village margins (usually found from between 0 to 700 meters in elevation). Characteristics of sugarcane include low perishability and tolerance for heat.
Other simplified Chinese names for sugarcane include: 薯蔗, 糖蔗, 黄皮果蔗, 藷蔗, 干蔗, 接肠草, 竿蔗 糖梗, 遮.
1.2 How does sugarcane taste?
Sugarcane stalk cannot be swallowed (sugarcane is highly fibrous and hard in nature), the edible juice extracted / squeezed from the raw stalk is highly sweet, fresh, like sugared water but with some vanilla flavor.
1.3 How do I tell if my sugarcane are ripe?
Ripening of sugar cane is the accumulation of sugar (sucrose) in the cane stalk. The process is associated with a slowing-down in the growth of leaves, and stems, at the same time sugar formation will continue. A ripe cane stalk is often made up of 15 to 20% sugar. Ripe canes should have stalks with joints nearly as sweet at the top as they are at the bottom. Sampling and tasting for checking of the stalk sweetness is the simplest way to check the ripening of sugarcane.
1.4 How is sugarcane used in traditional Chinese medicine?
The stem of sugarcane is considered to be sweet, neutral, astringent and nontoxic in nature and to be associated with the lung, spleen and stomach meridians. It is used as heat-clearing drug, secretory, dryness moistening drug in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as cough accompanied with heat syndromes.
2. Uses, Health Benefits of Sugarcane & Medical Formulas
2.1 Natural Energy Drink
Sugarcane juice is good source of glucose and can help to re-hydrate our body. It is a mix of sucrose, fructose, and many other glucose varieties which provide our body with an instant boost of energy. Also sugarcane juice is a natural energy drink, an excellent substitute for artificial energy drink.
2.2 Skin Health
Natural sugarcane juice contains Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), a group of organic carboxylic compounds, which are widely used in cosmetic applications. Alpha-hydroxy acids can reduce wrinkles, dryness, blemishes, age spots, and acne. Simple external application of sugarcane juice by adding it to face mask can make the skin look radiant and clean.
2.3 Enhance Immunity
Sugarcane juice contains a high level of Vitamin C (scientific name: ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid). Vitamin C play a key role in boosting our immunity, it affects several parts of the human immune system; for instance, vitamin C has been shown to stimulate both the production and function of leukocytes (white blood cells), especially neutrophils, lymphocytes, and phagocytes (oregonstate.edu 2017). Besides, sugarcane juice is also a good remedy for a sore throat.
2.4 Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol is carried in the blood attached to proteins called lipoproteins. There are two main types of cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL cholesterol is commonly known to as “bad cholesterol” because excess of LDL cholesterol is unhealthy. In contrast, HDL cholesterol is often known as the “good cholesterol” because it is protective (heartuk.org.uk 2017). Studies show that intake of sugarcane juice can reduce the levels of the bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
2.5 Ensure Healthy Pregnancy
Sugarcane juice contains trace amounts of folic acid which is one of the B vitamins found also in leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, and peas. The compound is well known for its value in the prevention of certain birth defects. A large study also proved that women who consumed more folic acid had a significantly reduced risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) (medicinenet.com 2014).
2.6 Fever And Dry Mouth
[CTM Formula] Sugarcane juice is taken orally to treat fever and dry mouth.
2.7 Nausea And Vomiting
[CTM Formula] Fresh sugarcane juice mixed with fresh ginger juice are taken orally to reduce nausea and treat vomiting.
2.8 Dry Cough
[CTM Formula] Foxtail millet porridge with sugarcane juice is taken orally to treat deficiency-heat related dry cough.
2.9 Qi Strangury
[CTM Formula] A decoction of sugarcane is taken orally to treat qi strangury (strangury due to bladder qi disorders).
3. Contraindication, Side-effects & Cautions
Administration with caution for people experiencing spleen and stomach deficiency.
The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.
The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.
Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by ChinaAbout.net. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.
List of reference
oregonstate.edu 2017 Vitamin C [online] link: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-C#immunity