Those who have watched the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" would be familiar with the imagery of bamboo: flexible yet firm, delicate yet strong. These unique qualities make the bamboo fit snugly into ancient Chinese philosophy and endow the health benefits of the bamboo with an air of wisdom and grace.
In China, the highly revered bamboo reflects celestial unity in ancient art, such as ethereal paintings of misty mountains with bamboo leaves, delicate bamboo weavings and bamboo baskets.
The strength of bamboo is apparent when the fury of the atomic bomb unleashed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War Two only damaged bamboo marginally. It was also one of the first plants to reappear after the deadly war, thus occupying a special place in the hearts of the Japanese. Visitors to Japan will be charmed by the melodious sound of nature when a breeze rustles through bamboo-made wind chimes.
In Hawaii, where bamboo is known as "ohe", bamboo crafts have been elevated to an art, with intricate designs of delicate tapa stamps carved from split bamboo.
Before the invention of wheels, bamboo provided stout shafts for carrying baskets woven from bamboo fibres, hence revealing its wide spectrum of uses.
Bamboo has strong survival skills. Like grass, it grows rapidly and is able to propagate by itself. Like wood, it is strong and can be found throughout the world. Although bamboo only needs minimal water to sustain itself, as little as 20 inches of rainfall for some species, most large bamboos grow quicker when exposed to full sunlight.
Growing profusely in poverty-ridden and resource-scare areas, bamboo is like a gift to humanity, giving the most of itself during its short lifespan of a few years.
The height of bamboo varies from 30cm dwarf plants to hovering timber bamboos of over 40m.
Bamboos are classified according to the type of roots. Runners, which belong mainly to tropical bamboos, spread exuberantly while clumpers, which belong to temperate bamboos, expand slowly from the original planting. There are also root systems that combine the two types.
Bamboo leaves come in a large variety. There are soft velvety leaves, leaves with saw-toothed edges and leaves with tiny wisps of hair-like adornments around the bases of the stems and culm (stem) sheaths.
Bamboo, a vital element in Traditional Chinese Medicine, has a temperament that ranges from mild to cooling. So although specific health benefits differ according to the various parts and flavours of the bamboo, generally, bamboo is able to help detoxify, repel insects, eliminate heatiness, clear phlegm, curb vomiting, restore vitality and quench thirst. Small wonder then that the bamboo is the panda's favourite. In fact, with plenty of crude protein, bamboo is also used frequently as animal fodder.
Bel'Air's green bamboo essential oil is the result of comprehensive research. From the joints of bamboo stems, a beneficial essence known as bamboo sil is extracted. It contains abundant amounts of silice, which is a rich store of calcium. After aromatherapy with green bamboo essential oil, calcium would be replenished and bones would be strengthened. This innovative essential oil can also alleviate old age problems such as backache and rheumatism, as well as enhance calcium contents in children and teenagers, hence boosting their growth.