Red Dates Benefits in TCM

Red dates (also known as Jujube Fruit ) are widely used in soups, porridge, and desserts in Asian countries. But do you know its benefits from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective? Read the rest of this blog post to find out! Red Dates Benefits In《本草纲目》(one of the most popular classics for TCM herbs/foods), it mentions 枣为脾之果,脾病宜食之,谓治病和药. It means red dates are used to treat spleen-related issues, especially deficiency in spleen qi (脾气虚). In the later part of the phrase, it says 谓治病和药. This means red dates are also commonly used in conjunction with other herbs because they can harmonize with other herbs to make them work more effectively in your body. This is the reason why you can find up to 58 TCM prescriptions that contain red dates (《伤寒论》、《金匮要略》两书,用枣者五十八方)! Red date is a very safe food and tonic to consume (as long as it’s within the recommended dosage limits). The main benefit of red dates is that they help to strengthen the Qi in your stomach and spleen. Hence, it is very suitable for people who have weak spleen, no appetite, loose stools and low energy.  Red dates benefit the spleen, stomach and heart (mind). Thus, they can also help to calm the mind and improve sleep quality. A lesser-known benefit of red dates is that it is also used in conjunction with other potent herbs in TCM because red dates can protect the stomach and spleen from the overwhelming tonic effect of the potent herbs! People Who Are Not Suitable To Eat Red Dates The thermal nature of red dates is warm, so overconsumption of red dates can lead to heatiness. If you are having a sore throat and dry mouth, try to avoid red dates at the moment. In addition, people who have phlegm and dampness body constitution are also not suitable to eat red dates! This is because the effectiveness of red dates is diminished in the presence of dampness in the body. The spleen can only be strengthened effectively if there is little or no dampness in the spleen.  Recommended Dosage The recommended dosage for one person is 6g to 15g. It is not recommended to eat red dates every day for most people.  How To Eat Red Dates It is easy to add red dates to your meal. Red dates can be cooked for as little as 15 minutes and up to 2 hours, so it is flexible to add them in your soups, porridge, and desserts. Just a quick tip: if you are adding red dates to soup, it is better to use a small knife to make one to two slits on the red dates so that the benefits of the red dates can be released into the soup more effectively. If you are adding red dates into porridge, it is better to remove the seeds and cut them into smaller slices. Hope you find this post useful!

Si Shen Soup Benefits in TCM

In this post, I want to share with you a soup that is suitable for almost everyone to drink (and with great benefits)! This soup is called Si Shen soup (四神汤). The biggest benefits of this soup are that it can help to calm the mind (to improve sleep quality) and strengthen the spleen and digestion.  Let us take a look at each of the ingredients.  1. Poria (茯苓) Poria’s thermal nature is neutral. It benefits the spleen, heart (mind), lungs and kidney. The main benefit of Poria is that it can remove the dampness inside a person’s spleen and hence, improve the digestion and absorption of food’s nutritions.  2. Chinese Yam (山药) Chinese yam’s thermal nature is neutral. It benefits the spleen, lungs and kidney. Its main benefit is that it can strengthen the spleen and lungs. It can also protect the kidney. It can be hard to differentiate Poria and Chinese yam if you buy a packet Si Shen ingredients. After cooking, Poria is harder to chew compared to Chinese yam. I will share more about the soup in the later part of this post. 3. Lotus Seed (莲子) Lotus seed’s thermal nature is neutral and it benefits the spleen, heart (mind) and kidney. You can read more about lotus seed and its benefits in my previous blog post here. 4. Gordon Enryale Seed (芡实) Gordon enryale seed is neutral in thermal nature and it benefits the spleen and kidney. Not many people know what is Gordon enryale seed but I want to mention that it is also a type of grains and it has very good properties in retaining fluids in our body. Thus, it is highly recommended for people with excessive sweating and frequent urination (especially at the night). The Powerful Combination of Ingredients The reason why Si Shen soup is so popular is because the four ingredients come together and maxmize the effectiveness of helping the person to calm his/her mind to improve sleep quality (and relief insomnia). If you have noticed, you will find that all four ingredients have the properties of strengthening the spleen. Thus, Si Shen soup is very good in strengthening a person’s spleen and improving digestion and absorption of nutrition in the food.  All the ingredients are also neutral in their thermal nature so it is highly suitable to most people’s body constitution.  But if you are experiencing constipation, then you may want to limit the intake of Si Shen soup for the time being. How To Cook Si Shen Soup Most people cook Si Shen soup with chicken meat or spare ribs (pork). You can do this as well if you like it. Else, if you are a vegetarian, you can add in lion’s mane mushroom or king abalone mushroom for more fillings.  Here are the ingredients (1 to 2 pax). If you have purchased those Si Shen soup packets (pre-packed), you can just use the dosage as indicated on the packaging: Water Poria (15 to 30g) Chinese yam (30 to 60g) Lotus seed (10 to 15g) Gordon enryale seed (10 to 20g) Lion’s mane mushroom and king abalone mushrooms (150g to 300g each, optional) Chicken meat or spare ribs (500g, optional) The following are the steps for cooking vegetarian Si Shen soup: Wash and rinse the four ingredients. Soak all the four ingredients in water for about one hour (this is to boost the effectiveness and release of the ingredients’ benefits into the soup later on). Pour the soaked water and all four ingredients into the pot. You also need to add more water so that it is enough for 2 pax etc. You can also add in the mushrooms during this step. Once the soup starts to boil, bring the heat down to the smallest so that it simmers for another 40 to 60min.  There you have it! You will have a nutrition soup that benefits your mind and body =) The following are the steps for cooking Si Shen soup with meat: Wash and rinse the four ingredients. Soak all the four ingredients in water for about one hour (this is to boost the effectiveness and release of the ingredients’ benefits into the soup later on). Pour the soaked water and all four ingredients into the pot. You also need to add more water so that it is enough for 2 pax etc. Bring the pot to boil. Using another pot, put in the raw chicken or spare ribs meat, put in water (tap water) enough to cover the meat. Then cook it under strong heat to bring it to boil. Do not cover the pot with lid because it will overflow easily. Once it starts to boil (or starting to boil), you will see stuff floating around (refer to the following picture to see what I mean), make sure you remove all these stuff so that the soup later on will be clearer and healthier. Let the meat boil for a total of around 3 min or when you see there are significantly lesser of those floating stuff. Now you can transfer the meat over to the soup which should be boiling now. Once the soup (with the meat) starts to boil, turn the heat down to the smallest and let it simmers for another 40 to 60min. That’s all! It is good to serve now! Why Does Some Si Shen Soup Contain Chinese Barley? If you buy those pre-packed Si Shen soup ingredients pack, you may notice that some vendors will include Chinese barley. Chinese barley has a cooling effect (and it can help to remove water retention in the body) and is generally fine to add along with Si Shen soup. But do note that Chinese barley is not suitable for women who are pregnant.  Hope you find this post useful! Feel free to message me if you have any questions!

Lotus Seed Benefits in TCM and Side Effects

lotus seeds benefits in tcm

Lotus seed is another popular food and ‘chinese herb’ that has very good benefits for most people. In this post, I will share what are the benefits and how you can get the most benefits out of lotus seeds! The thermal nature of lotus seed is balance. This means it is very suitable for most people to eat them. Lotus seeds have benefits for the spleen, kidney and heart (mind). The main benefit of lotus seed is to strengthen the spleen and stomach. It is very suitable for people with weak spleen (poor food absorption) and loose stools. If a person has diarrhea, lotus seed can also relief it but it is rare that people use lotus seed just to relief diarrhea. Lotus seed can also relief insomnia because it can clam the mind. Thus, it is used commonly to help people with insomnia.  Do note that the lotus seed we meant here are those without the inner seeds (green color). The inner seed inside lotus seed has a very cooling effect. Unless you are very heaty, else you should remove the inner seed when you are eating lotus seed. Lotus seed is suitable for most people. One very common usage is in the Si Shen soup (I will be posting more details about the Si Shen soup in the future).  Lotus seed’s side effects Take caution that lotus seed is not suitable for people with constipation because it will make the symptom worse. Other than that, most people are safe to consume lotus seed.  The recommended dosage per person is 7 to 10g. Do not consume more than the recommended dosage unless under the physician’s instructions.  How to eat lotus seeds? The most convenient way is to eat it as snacks. But take note not to over-consume them every day. You can consider trying out the lotus pops. If you prefer to cook yourself, you can buy this kind of dried ones (that already has the inner green seed removed). For dried lotus seeds, you can put them into any porridge and cook together with the rice. Or if you are cooking any soup, you can add them into the soup as well! Just make sure you cook them for at least 15 to 20min. The best soup to have lotus seed is Si Shen soup which I will be posting a detailed post soon! Hope you find this post helpful!

Luo Han Guo (Monk Fruit) Benefits In TCM

Luo Han Guo Drink

You may have consumed Luo Han Guo (罗汉果) herbal tea before but have yet to see what it looks like. You might be surprised that it has some really good benefits, especially for someone who has been infected with covid. Also known as Monk Fruit, Luo Han Guo is classified both as a food and medicine under TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Luo Han Guo is beneficial to the lung and large intestine meridian and it has cooling properties. Thus, it is very good for people having the heat-type illness. One of the strongest properties of Luo Han Guo is that it can soothe the throat. For people who feel that a sore throat is coming or currently having dry mouth and sore throat, Luo Han Guo is perfect for this situation. Luo Han Guo can also relieve cough (heat-type). If you are coughing and experiencing yellow phlegm, sore throat and dry mouth, then you can also use Luo Han Guo to treat this cough. This is the reason why Luo Han Guo drink can relieve people’s cough during the covid period.  If you are unsure if it is really heat-type related, then it is better to consult a TCM physician. Another benefit of Luo Han Guo is that it can relieve constipation.  Luo Han Guo is not suitable for: People with weak spleen (you will know if you need to visit the toilet after drinking or eating cold stuff). People with no throat discomfort. How To Prepare A Simple Luo Han Guo Drink  First, it is important to know that do not throw away the skin of Luo Han Guo! Always cook or simmer the skin together with the fruit inside to achieve better results. Ingredients (for 1 pax): Luo Han Guo (Half) with skin. Make sure to break the Luo Han Guo fruit and skin into smaller pieces. 80 to 90 degrees celsius water.  Pour 80 – 90 degree celsius of water into a cup or pot with Luo Han Guo and soak it for 15min. After that, it will be ready for drinking! Sidenote: Some people ask if Luo Han Guo is suitable for people with diabetes as it is quite sweet. The answer is yes because the sweetness of Luo Han Guo does not come from sugar and it will not increase the blood sugar. Hope you find this post useful!