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Return to Nature With Bamboo

By: Kate Hamilton
Posted: June 13, 2008, from the September 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Bamboo, a Chinese symbol for long life and an Indian symbol of friendship, is a natural resource that supplies food, shelter and income to more than 2.5 billion people worldwide. From the true grass family Poaceae, bamboos are some of the largest woody perennials. Found in diverse climates, including Northeast Asia, northern Australia, sub-Saharan Africa and the U.S. Southeast, these plants are very treelike in appearance, yet grow taller each year rather than wider in diameter, like ordinary trees.


Low in calories and fat, this healthy ingredient packs a fibrous punch that helps to lower cholesterol and protect against colon cancer. In addition, bamboo is rich in potassium—640 mg per cup—which helps to maintain normal blood pressure and a healthy heart rate. With a crispy, fresh flavor, this Asian-cuisine staple adds beneficial nutritional value, as well as interesting texture, to any meal.

In the kitchen

Bamboo shoots—the new culms, or stem of the plant, that grow out of the ground—commonly are used in Asian stir-fry recipes and are available at Asian supermarkets. Fermenting the sap of young stalks creates a sweet wine called ulanzi, and bamboo leaves are an ingredient in a green-colored Chinese liquor called zhúyèqīng jiú. Pith is the soft, spongy substance found in the center of the stem and can be served as a condiment.

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong features Braised Shark’s Fin Soup With Bamboo Pith on its menu. Under its Pacific Rim Cuisine selection, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa in Honolulu serves Kung Pao with bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and vegetables. Known as Kua Poo Kua Gai, Salad of Crab and Chicken With Bamboo Shoot is offered to guests at The Ritz-Carlton Bali in Indonesia. See also Portobello-tofu Stir Fry With Bamboo Shoots, courtesy of Chef Chad Luethje at Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah.

In the spa

Commonly utilized for its clarifying properties, bamboo helps to return the skin to a healthy state. With the Bamboo and Rice Facial Polisher, from B. Kamins, Chemist, gently cleanse and buff away dirt. The Roger&Gallet Paris Gentle Nature Body Care Range With Bamboo Sap capitalizes on the powerful replenishing benefits of sugars and minerals in bamboo sap that restore skin elasticity. The line features body lotions, shower creams and firming soaps. Try the Bamboo Cream Peel from CA Botana International Inc.’s Doctor D. Schwab anti-aging product line, which features ground dried bamboo shoots as an exfoliator. Biotone Spa’s Green Tea & Lime Leaf body butter, hydrating lotion and salt glow contain bamboo to soothe and invigorate.