On May 6, 1933 the New York Times published the obituary of Li Ching-Yeun, a Chinese herbalist, who died at the age of 197. Other Chinese government sources claimed he was even older at 256. If you’re like me, you have mixed feelings about a story like this. My practical lawyer-side finds it hard to believe that a man actually lived that long and would like to see credible proof of these claims. On the other hand, there’s a part of me that wants to believe there is hidden knowledge out there that can forever change my life. What if?
I like to think I have a healthy balance between critical thinking and open-mindedness. I never accept the opinions of “experts” as the final word. You should always do your homework and make the best possible choice given the information available to you. As an attorney, I’ve questioned many expert witnesses who reach different conclusions about scientific data. At the end of the day, their opinions are only educated guesses. Maybe a career in litigation has left me a little jaded, but I prefer to think for myself and encourage others to do the same.
Part of my homework is to slowly incorporate wild-plants into my diet. I pay attention to how my body reacts, looking for any sign the plant doesn’t agree with me. I also note any positive reactions. If there are no adverse reactions, then I give it a try for a while. If it improves the quality of my life, then I’ve lost nothing and gained everything.
One of the herbs Li Ching-Yeun was said to favor is Pennywort (Gotu Kola). It has a history of use in both Indian Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. I follow the example of Asians and add it to a tossed salad of wild herbs and common garden vegetables. In traditional Chinese medicine it is used to reduce fever, treat ulcers and anxiety, as a laxative, and to calm the nervous system. Nutritionally, it is rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and the B Vitamins, thiamine niacin, and riboflavin.
Here’s to your health and long life.