Chinese white radish (daikon) for bloating and indigestion

Chinese white radish (daikon) for bloating and indigestion

If you suffer from indigestion, bloating or sluggish bowel movements, be inspired by the Chinese and add Chinese white radish (daikon) to your diet.

White radish (Raphanus sativus) is known as Radish in English, Daikon in Japanese, and “Laifu” or “Luobo” in Chinese.

White radish is extremely popular in traditional Chinese cooking, both at home or when eating out. In fact, there’s a popular saying in certain regions of China, that says: “Eating more Chinese radish can keep you healthy”.

In China, it’s not uncommon for the family to cook Chinese radish if someone in the family is suffering from indigestion (also known as food stagnation). Chinese radish can benefit all members of the family, and can be made into dishes including Chinese radish cake, Chinese radish porridge and other Chinese radish sweets. Chinese radishes feature in many restaurant dishes, and are readily available in most Chinese markets.

This article will look at the health benefits of Chinese white radish.

What is Food Stagnation?

In Chinese medicine the Spleen system controls the body’s digestive functions. Sometimes when the Spleen is weakened or if you have eaten too much, it can take longer time to digest food and metabolise it. Undigested food retained in the digestive tract and intestines will cause accumulation of heat and toxins, and this syndrome is known as food stagnation in Chinese medicine. In western medicine, these symptoms are commonly described as indigestion.

The extra heat and toxins in the digestive system can lead to to a range of uncomfortable symptoms including:

Children suffering from food stagnation syndrome will tend to cry in the evening, suffer from unsettled sleep, have a redder face, sweating on the forehead, and a poor appetite.

Clinical experience has shown that diseases of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fatty liver can all be associated with long term food stagnation syndrome.

Whether you are an adult or a child, food stagnation can have a significant impact on your health. If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, or are being treated for food stagnation, adding Chinese white radish to your diet may benefit your health.

Health benefits of Chinese white radish

Although the leaf, seed and root of white radish are used in cooking, only radish seed (Raphani Semen) is regarded as a herb of traditional Chinese medicine called “Lai Fu Zi”.

Radish seed is commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine for its functions of promoting digestion, relieving distention, directing “Qi” downward, and dissipating phlegm.

Traditionally, it is used to treat food dyspeptic retention, distending pain in the epigastrium and abdomen, constipation, diarrhea and dysentery, panting, and cough with phlegm congestion clinically in combination with other TCM herbs (Sham et al., 2013).

Helps digestion and improves bowel movement

Chinese white radishes can be very helpful in relieving symptoms of food stagnation, as mentioned above. It is popular to drink white radish and ginger soup (see recipe below) after consuming a heavy meal.

Helps to clear phlegm

There is a traditional Chinese medicine quote that says: “phlegm is stored in the Lung, but produced from the Spleen.”

This refers to the idea that excessive phlegm can be produced from two areas of the body, disorders affecting the lung as well as the digestive system.

Lung disorders that produce phlegm include the common cold or flu, heat and cold in the lungs, and from long-term smoking.

Chinese medicine believes that phlegm can also be produced by food stagnation syndrome. Especially after overeating very sweet, oily and deep-fried foods. Symptoms may include:

  • productive, thick white phlegm
  • bloating, especially after eating
  • burping
  • poor appetite or craving foods
  • sluggish bowel movements
  • heavy arms and legs
  • being overweight

Eating white radish while you are undergoing treatment for this type of phlegm problem may be helpful.

White Radish Recipes

White radish and carrot stir-fry

10cm Chinese white radish, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 pieces of ginger, chopped
2 tbsp spring onions
3 tsp olive oil
2 cups of water

Stir fry Chinese radish, carrot and ginger in the oil and water for 10 minutes on low heat. Add spring onions, salt and pepper to taste.

Effects: Helps digestion; clears bloating and fullness; helps bowel movements.

White radish and ginger soup

This is a very common and popular recipe, and is very easy to cook. It also smells delicious.

Handful of chopped radish

1 piece of ginger
4 cups of water
2 tbsp coriander

Combine all ingredients and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the coriander just before serving, along with salt and pepper to taste.

Effects: Helps move food down in the intestines; avoids food stagnation; improves digestion and metabolism.

White radish salad

This is a very tasty and popular salad to eat during summer. It tastes delicious and is crunchy. It’s even popular in Japanese cuisine.

Handful of white radish, chopped finely.

Simply add the finely chopped radish to any of your favourite salad, or you can eat it alone with your favourite salad sauce.

Effects: Clears heat from the Liver and intestines; improves digestion and metabolism.

Precautions

We suggest to avoid eating Chinese white radish if you are experiencing diarrhoea. Certain studies have shown that radish seed can interact with the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin.

If you’re unsure if Chinese white radish is suitable for you, please consult with your Chinese medicine practitioner.

Food as medicine (A disclaimer)

Our “food as medicine” articles share knowledge about health foods in the context of traditional Chinese medicine diet therapy and practices often dating back thousands of years. We also support this knowledge with references to published scientific research. Please keep in mind that scientific research into the health benefits of foods is still emerging and human research is limited.

Consuming a wide variety of natural foods as part of a balanced diet is most beneficial for health, however, we don’t advise using food alone to treat diseases. Please consult with your doctor or health professional about which foods are suitable for your body or health issues.

What Does The Research Say?

The following insights are obtained from scientific studies, systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Daikon (White Radish).

Scientific References

Browse our collection of scientific research on Daikon (White Radish). It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.

Trends in Food Science & Technology

2021, Jul

Nutritional and phytochemical characterization of radish (Raphanus sativus): A systematic review
Trends in Food Science & Technology

This systematic review indicates that radish is a fundamental source of nutrients and phytochemicals. It has particular proteins such as glucosinolates, flavonoids, β-carotene, and minerals. Such characteristics are considered raw materials of nutraceuticals (nutrients used for medicine), which are further used to prevent infectious and non-communicable diseases.

Sham, T. T., Yuen, A. C., Ng, Y. F., Chan, C. O., Mok, D. K., & Chan, S. W. (2013). A review of the phytochemistry and pharmacological activities of raphani semen. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 636194. https://doi.org Full Article

Nutrients

2019, Feb 14

Deciphering the Nutraceutical Potential of Raphanus sativus—A Comprehensive Overview
Nutrients

Radishes is of great pharmaceutical importance, most of which has been attributed to its antioxidant property The review showcase the bioactive compounds presented in different parts of radishes to alleviate ailments, such as cancer, inflammation, liver injury and diabetes.

Abinaya ManivannanOrcID,Jin-Hee Kim,Do-Sun Kim,Eun-Su Lee andHye-Eun Lee Full Article

Nutrients

2017, Sep 14

Radish (Raphanus sativus) and Diabetes
Nutrients

In summary, radish has been identified as having antidiabetic effects, making it favorable for those with diabetic conditions. This may be due to its ability to enhance the antioxidant defense mechanism and reduce the accumulation of free radicals, affect hormonal-induced glucose hemostasis, promote glucose uptake and energy metabolism, and reduce glucose absorption in the intestine. However, this summary requires further confirmation in research in vivo studies and clinical trials.

Saleem Ali Banihani Full Article

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2013, Jul 8

A Review of the Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Activities of Raphani Semen
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This systematic review showcased that Raphani Semen (Radish Seed) or more commonly known as LaiFuZi in Chinese Medicine, is found to have antihypertensive effects (hypertension), antilipase activities (treatment for obesity), gastrointestinal activities, constipation and antitussive effects. Thus, commonly used in Chinese Medicine for treatments.

Tung-Ting Sham, Ailsa Chui-Ying Yuen, Yam-Fung NgChi-On ChanDaniel Kam-Wah Mok, and Shun-Wan Chan Full Article

WRITTEN BY:

Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.

  • Sim Mong Li Evelyn
    REPLY

    Good Article helps me improve my quality of life and stay healthier. Thank You!

    22 September, 2015
  • lydia bartholow
    REPLY

    pulled armful of these from a local farmer and need to find recipes. thanks

    1 December, 2016
  • Dianne
    REPLY

    Thanks for these very helpful tips just when I need them. I am in China, fighting constipation yet didn’t know all these healthy foods.

    5 June, 2020

LEAVE A COMMENT