While many of us typically consider the Western way of supplementing our nutritional intake — such as taking vitamins — Chinese medicine has a different focus.
American Ginseng 花旗参/西洋参/泡参
When it comes to kickstarting the day, one of the most popular ways of getting an energy boost is with American ginseng.
In fact, American ginseng wakes up the brain and is a great coffee replacement, providing an instant burst of energy.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Yin component hydrates, revitalises and refreshes the body. American ginseng is an excellent Yin enhancer, which is not only used to nourish the lungs, but also to replenish the fluids in the body while clearing excessive heat build-up from internal body stress and dehydration.
Over the years, the use of American ginseng has evolved — with the whole root being used, as a tea fusion beverage and as convenient capsules.
The whole American ginseng can be used in the brewing of herbal soups together with meat, mushrooms and vegetables. It may even be used as a flavour enhancer in your herbal chicken or duck dishes.
However, to harness the rich health value of American ginseng, avoid using carrots and radishes in your selection of ingredients. Carrots and radishes, or related ingredients, may nullify the effect of ginseng. Various soup packs with American ginseng are also readily available for convenient use.
For those who prefer a quick energy booster, American ginseng can also be sliced into thin pieces and brewed as a tea beverage. Just a few slices brewed in a glass of boiling water will do. Ready-sliced American ginseng is available for the convenience of consumers.
For added flavour, jasmine flowers can be used in combination. In fact, jasmine flowers provide additional stress relief benefits and even warms the body, which is especially useful for ladies and those working in air-conditioned offices.
If you find that you do not even have time to brew or consume American ginseng in the form of a tea beverage, fret not! It can be ground into fine powder for direct consumption or even consumed in convenient capsules, to keep the mind fresh and alert throughout the day.
Just remember not to take it before bedtime or too late at night!
Cordyceps Sinensis 冬虫夏草
As we get older, some of us may start to feel our stamina levels dropping. Some seniors may even find themselves struggling with shortness of breath after climbing stairs or doing vigorous chores. Such weakness is generally due to the decrease and deficiency of our kidneys’ Qi as we age.
Cordyceps Sinensis is popular for its strong support of respiratory health. It is useful in the recovery of various lung and chest infections as well as allergies in weak children. Moderate use of cordyceps Sinensis provides a uniform boost to the lungs’ Qi and strengthens the body’s immunity.
In TCM, stronger lungs — closely associated with the skin — provide a shield for the body against exogenous diseases for a better health.
Similarly, cordyceps can be enjoyed in various forms depending on personal preference and convenience, be it the whole herb or in capsules.
While some may choose to brew cordyceps in boiling water and enjoy it as a beverage, others may opt for a more convenient alternative form to consume on the go. Likewise, cordyceps can also be ground into powder and consumed raw or as capsules.
While there is pure cordyceps essence in the market, for those who dread “popping pills”, there is also a fusion of cordyceps with chicken essence to kickstart the day.
It is also a bonus to note that cordyceps is pregnancy friendly and is recommended during the second trimester of pregnancy. If you are having trouble thinking of what to get as a gift for a mother to be, cordyceps is an excellent choice to consider.
When taken in moderation, cordyceps not only provides support for the mother’s health, strength, and immunity, it is also an ideal source of nutrients for the growing baby.
Bird’s Nest 燕窝
The hectic working life in modern society deprives many of us from enjoying a proper breakfast.
Bird’s nest, in its convenient bottled form, can be consumed as a quick and nutritious breakfast.
In TCM, bird’s nest has a calming effect, and is often used as a traditional remedy for moisturising the lungs, clearing phlegm, and relieving dry cough. In modern times, the use of bird’s nest has greatly evolved and become a major highlight in the maintenance of youth and beauty.
Bird’s nest contains high levels of glycoproteins, antioxidants and other nutrients that help to improve skin quality and minimise harm from the surroundings and the stresses of life. Bird’s nest slows down ageing, and when used during pregnancy, it supports the growth and development of the baby.
While bottled bird’s nest drinks are readily available in the market, here are some pointers, when making your selection. It is important to choose trusted sources, as industry players may replace bird’s nest with other forms of similar-textured seaweed to reduce the cost.
You should also look for bird’s nest that is free from stabilisers, which helps to make it look thick and succulent. Stabiliser-free bird’s nest may look settled, but it is the genuine contents that matter.
Cave nest also provides better nutrients compared to farmed nests due to its exposure to minerals inside the cave.
Besides the convenience of bottled bird’s nest drinks, it can also be enjoyed by brewing the raw bird’s nest with various ingredients. In general, for cave nest, soak the raw bird’s nest for 8-10 hours before slowly brewing it for 2.5 to 3 hours.
Seek professional advice from a qualified TCM herbalist for specific preparation methods for the purchased bird’s nest. Bird’s nest can be used to make nutritious desserts, be it a floral or herbal mix.