Chinese Herbal Medicine: The Longevity Factor and on Living to 197 Years

With all of the marvelous inner-workings of the herbal TCM system (traditional Chinese medicine system) and its powerful and complex systematic energy formulas for healing practically anything, it is still the longevity factors of a few single tonic herbs that amaze me the most.

Of about 9,000 TCM herbs (officially used in TCM and fully understood in their energy factors) there are about 100 that can truly contribute to a long healthy life. (These are in the "Superior Tonic Herb" classification.) About 40 of these herbs are quite remarkable in there abilities to prolong life with very little signs of ageing.

If I were to narrow it down a bit further, at least on a personal level, I would say the most important herbs for longevity would come down to about fifteen with He Shou Wu (Polygonum multiflorum) being the most important. Followed by Jiao Gu Lan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), Go Qi Zi (Lycium), Ci Wu Jai (Siberian Ginseng Root), Ren Shen (Panax Ginseng root), Peng Da Wan (Gota Kola), Wu Wei Zi (Schizandrae), San Zhu yu (Cornus Fruit), Tien Men Dong, Yin Yang Hou and others. However many people will have different balances of yin and yang in their bodies so there is not one set group of herbs that would truly be the absolute best for everybody.

There is simply not enough room here to go into all these but below are links with photos and an in-depth look at each of these herbs.

* He Shou Wu: A blood, kidney, and liver tonic - (

* Jiao Gu Lan: Tonifies Qi, and blood - (

* Go Qi Zi: A kidney and liver yin tonic - (

* Siberian Ginseng: A powerful Adaptogenic Root - (

* Ren Shen: Tonic to digestive Qi and all Qi - (

* Ping Da Wan: Brain and CNS Tonic - (

* Wu Wei Zi: An Adaptogenic herb - (

* Shan Zho Yu: Yin and Yang Tonic - (

* Tien Men Dong: Lungs, Jing, and Shen - (

* Yin Yang Huo: Yang/Jing Tonic - (

Many of the conclusions that I have come to about these herbs as used for longevity are based on the findings and personal applications of Master Li Ching Yuen who lived to the incredible age of at least 197! (Some sources say the records show he lived to be 256 as you will read, however I personally think this is the Chinese government "pushing it" a bit but who knows!)

In 1933, newspapers all over the world reported Li Ching Yuen's death. You can read the New York Times article exactly as it appeared by going to this link: - ( .

Modern science has a very hard time admitting anyone ever lived past 122. This is due in part to lack of legal birth records but also, I believe, because they really do not want to admit that some very natural nutritional energy factors derived from nothing more than carefully planned eating and exercise could far surpass anything all of science has to offer when it comes to the longevity factor.

According to all the data I could find (I have been fascinated with this and have researched this over the last 20 years or so) It seems that Li Ching Yuen consumed mostly a diet of plants and fruit. There is evidence that he ate fish sometimes and wild meat only about twice a year.

The herbs that he consumed regularly were He Shou Wu, Ginseng, and Gou Qi Zi (Wolfberries). He ate the Wolfberries raw and cooked the He Shou Wu with the Ginseng.

There is evidence that he also consumed Ping Da Wan (Gotu Kola leaves) regularly both fresh as a salad and brewed as a tea. There is even some evidence that he may have also put these four herbs (along with Dang Gui and Gan Cao (Chinese Licorice Root) in strong liquor as a tincture and drank one swallow every day.

According to Chinese records, Li Ching Yuen was born in Chyi Jiang Hsie, Szechuan province in 1677. He spent most of his life in the mountain ranges gathering herbs and learning the knowledge of longevity methods.

In 1748, when he was 71 years old, he moved to Kai Hsien to join the Chinese army as a teacher of the martial arts and as a tactical advisor.

In 1927, Li Ching Yuen was invited by General Yang Sen to visit him in Wann Hsien, Szechuan. The general was fascinated by his youthfulness, strength and prowess in spite of his extremely advanced age. His famous portrait, seen in the New York Times article, was photographed there.

Returning home, he died a year later of natural causes. Many claim that he told friends, "I have done all I have to do in this world. I will now go home," before he died and then sat back with a smile and simply died without one sign of stress.

After Li's death, General Yang Sen investigated the truth about his claimed background and age. He wrote a report that was later published. In 1933, people interviewed from his home province remembered seeing him when they were children, and that he hadn't aged much during their lifetime. Others reported that he had been friends with their grandfathers

One of his disciples, the Taiji Quan Master Da Liu told of Master Li's story: At 130 years old Master Li encountered an older hermit in the mountains who taught him Baguazhang and a set of Qigong exercises with breathing instructions, movements training coordinated with specific sounds, and dietary recommendations. (This is where he was told of the importance of eating the Go Qi Zi berry.) Da Liu reports that his master said that his longevity "is mostly due to the fact that I performed the exercises every day -- regularly, correctly, and with sincerity -- for 120 years."

While we can all greatly benefit from the herbal knowledge that Master Li has given us which can perhaps help most anyone to live a longer healthier life, I still believe the greatest wisdom that can be gained for our health's sake from this remarkable man is something he often said about living a long happy life: "Sit like a tortoise, sleep like a dog, Walk up right and sprightly like a pigeon and most importantly, always keep a quiet heart"

Rest in peace Master Li and thanks for all you taught us.
(By: Christopher Gussa)

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