Strawberry (Cao Mei)
Botanical Name: Fragaria vesca (Wild Strawberry), F. ananassa (Garden Strawberry)
Shaped like a heart, strawberries are not only a delicious fruit, but both varieties (wild and garden) are well known for their antioxidant properties that can help support heart health and regulate blood sugar levels. One whole cup of strawberries contains less than 50 calories. Strawberry leaves are used medicinally to treat fevers, gout, and aid bowel regularity.
Below is an overview of Strawberry (Cao Mei), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Strawberry (Cao Mei).
Western Name: Strawberry
Also Known As: Wild Strawberry, Alpine Strawberry
Organs/Systems: Skin, Heart, Intestines
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Fruit – Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Anticancer, Aphrodisiac. Cardiovascular support, lowers blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, reduces risk of type II diabetes, helps prevent breast, cervical, colon and esophageal cancer, improve inflammatory bowel problems (including Crohn’s disease), arthritis, inflamed eyes
Leaves – Astringing, Laxative, Diuretic, Anti-aging. Diarrhea, fevers, rheumatic gout, night sweats, urinary tract infections (UTIs), fatigue.
Pin Yin: Cao Mei
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Spleen, Lung, Intestines
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Eliminates Wind/Lubricates the Lungs/Promotes Body Fluids: stop coughing, dry cough, sore throat, difficult urination, quench thirst. Tonifies the Spleen/Detoxes: poor appetite, detox from alcohol, moisten the intestines. Soothes the Skin: sunburn, wheals, age spots.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Berry, Leaves, Roots
Flavors/Temps: Cold, Sweet
History/Folklore: The name “strawberry” has been attributed to the practice of placing straw under the plants during cultivation when the berries are ripening to help keep pests away. In fact, the name derives from the verb “strew,” referring to the tangle of vines which the plant strews along the ground while growing.
Strawberries grow wild in many of the temperate regions of the world. It was not until the 18th century that strawberry cultivation began to be taken more seriously. A hybrid between a South American strawberry and a North American strawberry is what became popular due to its sweet flavor and larger size than the previously more familiar wild strawberries. Because strawberries are perishable they remained a luxury item until well into the 19th century, when railroads helped transport the fresh berries longer distances.
The first written reference to strawberries in Europe is from the 10th century. The berries were also mentioned in a play by Ben Johnson in the 15th century.
Current research indicates that strawberries retain their vitamin C levels for only the first few days of freshness, after that the vitamin C levels drop dramatically. Strawberries are freshest when they are vibrant and pinkish-red.
New studies are also revealing that strawberries are able to help prevent blood sugar spikes despite their sugar content, helping to regulate proper blood sugar levels.
An old traditional recipe for strawberries takes advantage of the malic acid in the berries using them to remove discoloration from badly yellowed teeth. Mashed and mixed with a bit of bicarbonate of soda, the mixture was left to sit on the teeth for about 5-8 minutes and the rinsed off with warm water. A fresh cut strawberry rubbed on the face was said to help whiten the skin and soothing sunburns.
The high levels of enzymes contained in strawberries helps them fight against the kinds of cell damage and inflammation that contribute to the aging process. A study conducted by Tufts University showed that rats exposed to radioactive energy suffered fewer aging effects (such as motor and cognitive functions) if given strawberry extracts than those rats who did not receive the extract.
The famous herbalist Culpeper recommended a wash of strawberry juice as eye-drops used for treating inflamed eyes.
Strawberries can be somewhat prolific and invasive in your garden. Wild strawberries will hurt relatively few plants, but they spread rapidly and can deplete soil of nutrients other plants craves. Borage (Borago officinalis) is a wonderful companion plant for strawberry and other plants too! Any plant in the cabbage family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and the like) will not do well if planted near strawberries. Likewise, tomatoes, mint and roses also do not like growing near strawberries.
Anthocyanins, Flavonols, Hydroxy-benzoic acids, Hydroxy-cinnamic acids, Tannins, Stilbenes (Reservatol), Vitamin C, Manganese, Folate (Vitamin B9), Potassium.
Top Source of Antioxidants
Strawberries rank in the top 50 sources for antioxidants. They are ranked 27th overall and 4th among fruits (behind blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries).
Packed with Vitamin C
On average eight strawberries will give you 120% of your recommended daily Vitamin C allowance.
Which Parts Can You Eat?
Strawberry roots, leaves and berries are all edible.
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