Barley Water Benefits In TCM

chinese barley water

Barley drink is very common in Singapore but do you know its benefits and not everyone is suitable to drink it? In this post, you will learn what is the benefits of barley drink and how to cook an effective barley drink for you and your family.

First thing first, its Chinese name is called 薏苡仁 or 薏米。Its English name is called coix seeds but we often called it barley here in Singapore. There are two types of coix seeds, one is Chinese barley (they shape bigger and rounder) and the other type is called the Holland barley. The following is a comparison of these two barley:

For the purpose of its healing effects, we will be using Chinese barley in this post as its benefits are more obvious compared to the one from Holland. 

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Chinese barley has cooling properties, so it can help to reduce heatiness in body. But the main benefits of barley is it helps to reduce water retention, especially in the lower part of your body. Drinking barley water can also helps to lose weigh because it helps to eliminates excess 湿 (dampness) in your body.

Other benefits recorded in TCM for barley is it can also help to relief diarrhea, but this is more of a secondary effect, I don’t suggest to use just barley to treat diarrhea. Barley also has the benefits of detox and prevents cancer cells forming.

In short, it is a wellness drink for most people when the weather is warm or you want an effective and affordable method to lose weigh through eliminating water retention. 

People who are not suitable to drink barley water 

In general, everyone can enjoy the barley water except for women who are pregnant. The reason is because barley also has 滑利 properties (sorry, I can’t find a suitable English translation for this word). 


How to prepare an effective barley drink

The following recipe is for one person (two cups). Do adjust the amount accordingly if you are preparing for more people. The ingredients you need are:

  1. Chinese barley (30g).
  2. Winter melon sticks (15 to 30g), depends on your sweetness preference.
  3. Water (750 to 900g), depends on how much the water vaporised when cooking. At the end of the cooking, you should left with two cups (each about 250ml) of water.

The cooking method is very simple. Wash and rinse the barley and winter melon sticks and put them into the water. Turn on the fire and bring the water to boil. Once the water boils, turn the fire to smallest and let it simmer for 20 to 30min. Turn off the fire and enjoy the barley drink!

Winter melon sticks
Winter melon sticks

Adding winter melon sticks here is to enhance the effect of eliminating water retention in body. Most melons, especially winter melon has the effect of getting rid of excess dampness in body. Two common ways to identify dampness in your body is if you have water retention or loose / sticky stools most of the time.

Do note that you need to drink this water for a period of time if you want to see visible results. I suggest you can start from two to three times per week. Also, avoid (if you can’t do it totally, then reduce) fried, oily and spicy food as they encourages dampness in your body.

Let me know if you have any questions, if not, enjoy your barley drink and its healing effects!

chinese barley water
Chinese barley water (you can add some lemon slices to flavor)

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Best Chinese Herbal Tea for Sore Throat

In this post, I will be recommending a herbal tea drink that will help you cure your sore throat. Keep reading to find out what is the herb and how to prepare this effective drink.

First, you may want to know that most sore throat is caused by inner heat. Hence, if you feel that you have a sore throat coming your way, please stop taking deep fried, processed and spicy food.

The herb you should consume is 罗汉果, Luo Han Guo (it is also know as Monk Fruit). 

Luo Han Guo has good cooling properties that can sooth your throat and reduce your inner heat. It also has properties to relief constipation. Hence, it can be taken regularly for people who often gets heaty and constipation. 

How to prepare an effective Luo Han Guo drink

First, you can buy a dried Luo Han Guo in most TCM shop. For one serving, just one piece of Luo Han Guo will do. Wash the exterior of the dried fruit and smash it open, Take out the core fruit inside and break it further to smaller pieces (5 to 6 smaller pieces etc).

Second, place the Luo Han Guo (with the shell) into a pot of water (approx. 500ml), you can add rock sugar if you want but you may want to try without added sugar because Luo Han Guo itself is sweet. Bring the water to boil then turn the fire to smallest and simmer for 2 to 3 minute. Turn off the fire and let it sit for another few minute before you drink it, you should have about two cups left.

Do take note that this herbal tea is the most effective if you feel a sore throat is coming your way. I also want to advise everyone to pay close attention to your body at all times so that you will be sensitive to such symptoms when it arise. It is easier to cure the sore throat in the first 1 to 2 days instead of letting it develop into cough after that.. Once you are good at listening to your body, you will be amazed that you can stop most illness by taking natural herbs before it further develops.

How long do you need to drink it in order to see results?

If you drink this remedy in the first two days (when you feel the sore throat sensation), you should feel your sore throat relived after drinking it for continuous two to three days. 

What if I am busy and I can’t find time to cook myself?

If you do not have time to prepare the drink yourself, you can choose to purchase the prepared herbal drink from some TCM shops. Ask them for Luo Han Guo herbal tea. It is better to take those that are cooked on the same day rather than taking those canned herbal drink.

Luo Han Guo is very affordable herb and effective for sore throat so make sure you give it a try especially if you start to feel the sore throat sensation. 

I wish you well and hope this information helps you!

Learn how to choose which herbal tea is suitable for you

In Singapore, there are many types of herbal tea and do you know how to choose which one to drink? In this post, I will share some common types of herbal drink you can find in Singapore and their properties so you can make the right choice for your health!

1- Chrysanthemum (菊花) Tea / Drink

Chrysanthemum is the most common herbal tea or drink you can find in most herbal stalls or shops in shopping mall.

The main property of Chrysanthemum is cooling (beneficial for lungs and liver). It can help to reduce body heatiness, headache and dizziness, and swollen / painful eye area due to liver heatiness.

Thus, you should choose Chrysanthemum tea / drink if you experience some headache, dizziness especially due to lack of sleep these few days or just starting to have some flu (heaty type) symptoms such as sore throat and keep feeling your mouth is dry.

2- American Ginseng (洋参) Tea / Drink

Good american ginseng is expensive and helps in strengthening qi (补气) but the type that you find in common herbal tea / drink normally do not have such strong potency.

The main property of american ginseng is strengthening qi (beneficial for heart, lung and kidney) and cooling effect. For the purpose of this blog post, american ginseng tea / drink has the effect of cooling and small effect of boosting your qi (energy).

Thus, you should choose american ginseng tea / drink if you often experience tiredness, and mouth dry. You can also choose american ginseng tea / drink if you feel that your palm and feet often feels hot.

3- Monk Fruit (罗汉果) Tea / Drink

Monk fruit also known as Siraitia grosvenorii or more commonly Luo Han Guo (罗汉果) in Singapore. It can help to reduce heatiness in lungs and improvement bowel movements (beneficial for lung and big intestine).

The main property of Luo Han Guo is to soothe throat and moisturize lungs. It also helps to ease constipation.

Thus, you should choose Luo Han Guo tea / drink if you have sore throat or feels that you have symptoms of sore throat coming. Also choose this drink if you have minor constipation these few days. Lastly, it will also help in dry cough (very hard to spit out the phlegm).

NOTE: Do visit a TCM physician if you have coughed for more than 2 weeks, because herbal tea will not cure the root issue of the cough.

4- Chinese Barley (中国薏米) Tea / Drink

Chinese barley is another very common type of herbal tea / drink in Singapore. In fact, I highly recommend most people to drink Chinese Barley because of our Tropical climate here. Chinese Barley can help to reduce water retention and strengthen spleen. Out of all the herbal tea / drink, Chinese Barley is the only one that can strengthen one’s spleen.

The main property of Chinese Barley is to help you get rid of excessive water in your body especially in spleen and lower part of your body. This is why Chinese Barley is a common herb to use to treat swollen angle, feet and lower part of the leg due to water retention.

Thus, you should choose Chinese Barley tea / drink if you have water retention in the lower part of your leg or generally you have weak spleen (have stomachache after cold drinks and oily food). Chinese Barley can also helps in weigh loss but you must make it a habit to drink it consistently to see results.

Caution: Women who are pregnant please consult a TCM physician before you make Chinese Barley a regular drink.

Note: There are two type of barley, one is Holland Barley which main property is cooling and the other one is Chinese Barley, which we mention in this blog post. make sure to choose the right one when you buy.

5- Honeysuckle (金银花) Tea / Drink

Honeysuckle is also a common type of herbal tea / drink in Singapore. Out of all herbal tea / drinks, Honeysuckle has most cooling effect and is highly recommended for people who are very heaty!

The main property of Honeysuckle is cooling and detox (beneficial for lungs, heart and stomach).

Thus, you should choose Honeysuckle tea / drink if you have bad breath, sudden rush of acne or feeling very heaty (symptoms of sore throat, mouth dry and keep wanting to drink water and urine appears very yellowish and feels hot)

Caution: Honeysuckle is extremely cooling hence it is not suitable for people with weak spleen. If you often have diarrhea after drinking cold stuff or oily food, then I would say Honeysuckle is not suitable for you.

A Note About Mixed Herbal Tea / Drink

It is now very common for you to see mixed herbal tea / drink such as
Chrysanthemum with Luo Han Guo or
Chrysanthemum with American Ginseng. For such herbal tea, you can refer to their each effects above but I strongly encourage to go for the individual herbal tea if you need relive in a particular symptom, for example, if you are only having a sore throat, then I would suggest you choose Luo Han Guo rather than
Chrysanthemum with Luo Han Guo.

I hope these information helps! If you like a particular herbal tea / drink but didn’t see it listed here, you can comment below and I will consider adding it to the list!

My thoughts after two years diploma in chinese medicated food dietician

*First thing first, at the time of writing this post, this diploma course is conducted in Chinese only, if you have great difficulty understanding Chinese and prefer English language, you can contact Singapore TCM college to see if they offer English language for this course.

 This Diploma in Chinese Medicated Food Dietitian course is conducted over two years (3 hrs on Sat and Sun) in Singapore TCM College located in Toa Payoh (Singapore).

Time files and we just graduated from the class 2016 =) One of the highlights in this course is that we went to China YangZhou University for 10 days to learn TCM dishes from the Masters there!

Class photo in China YangZhou University for 10 days hands-on experience Mar 2018

I have attached the curriculum for this two years course for you to take a look if you are considering to take up this course. I will also share what each module covers and my takeaway in the rest of this article.


1.中医基础理论 – Basic TCM Theory (68hrs)

This first module is exciting as it opens up the TCM concept to everyone. This module consists of 68 hrs of classroom learning (which is one of the biggest module out of the whole course). The coverage includes TCM history, Yin Yang concept, Five elements (五行) concept, TCM human organs (五脏) concept.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me in this first module is understanding each and every of our five organs and how they associate with our human functions. For example, if our eyes have issues, it is commonly linked to our liver. If we have hearing issues, it could be due to kidney. We also learn what are the relationship between each organ such as Liver-Kidney, Heart-Lung etc.


2.中医诊断学 – TCM Diagnostics (48 hrs)

This second module is one of those that I look forward to because is covers how to diagnose a person’s illness based on the person’s face, eye, body, skin, tongue, pulse. Also, we learn what to ask a person’s to find the root cause of the illness.

The most valuable lesson for me in this module is when we were taught how to check each other’s pulses and determine what kind of pulse we have. It is a fun session as we check the pulse of the classmates sitting beside us and the teacher also go around sharing and highlighting some mistakes made by us.

Another lesson I remembered strongly is the observing of one’s tongue. We all have different body types and our tongue will reflect what is our main body type. That lesson is priceless as I learn how to tell one’s body type after looking at the person’s tongue.


3.中药学 – Chinese Medicine Study (64 hrs)

This module is one of my favorite because it teaches us the properties of Chinese medicine and I am amazed that the teacher actually go through one by one! We spent the whole 64 hrs learning each Chinese medicine. Honestly, it is very overwhelming because of all the information but I tell myself at least I just need to remember a few and make a practice to use them in my daily life then it will well worth the time!

My favorite class and drink!

The greatest takeaway from this lesson is learning what kind of Chinese Medicine suits different people. It is because of these valuable knowledge, now I frequently cook Chinese Barley for my family and Chinese yam (山药) porridge for myself.


4.方剂学 – Chinese Medicine Formula Study (60 hrs)

After learning each type of Chinese medicine, this next module covers how different medicine comes together to formulate a solution (方剂). For example, a very popular formula for curing flu (cold-wind type) is 麻黄汤 which consists of 麻黄,桂枝,杏仁, 甘草。This formula targets to expel the coldness in one’s body as sweat to cure the flu. We learn how different medicine come together to create a much bigger synergy and stronger effect as compared to just using one medicine.

I also learn that there are different forms of Chinese Medicine formula like pills, herbs (raw and dried form) as well as powdered so what are the differences? Allow me to share with you below:

In accordance of speed of medicine effectiveness, herbs (raw and dried form) has the fastest effect. If you need to cure an illness fast, always choose the herbs form (but you must boil and cook them) to achieve a faster effect. I recalled there was once my mother feeling unwell and vomiting and we gotten a few herbs from a TCM doctor and immediately after taking the drink (after the herbs were cooked), my mom stopped vomiting. That was the fist time I witness the power of Chinese medicine in herbs form. However, not many TCM doctor prescribe dried herbs nowadays.

The next one is powdered form, which is most common form of Chinese Medicine you will get nowadays in most TCM clinics. The greatest advantage of powdered form is that it is very convenient to consume as you just need to add warm water because you don’t need to cook it. But the speed of seeing results is slower than the above method.

The last type is pills form. Comparing to the above two methods, pills often require much longer time to see results. It is recommended for long term illness and not short term discomfort like vomiting, stomachache etc. However, one greatest advantage of using pills is that you will not taste the Chinese medicine (comparing to the above two methods) especially some people don’t like the taste of Chinese Medicine.


5.中医养生学 – TCM  for Health and Longevity (32 hrs)

I can’t find a direct translation for the Chinese characters ‘养生’ so I came up with my own interpretation which is Health and Longevity. This module talks about how one can stay have a long and healthy life based on TCM wisdom. A significant part of this module covers diet as well, especially what kind of people should adapt what kind of diet.

My greatest takeaway from this module (actually, this is the most valuable takeaway for this entire two years) is how to determine what body type a person is and recommend what diet for that person. There are nine body types overall:

  1. Qi Deficiency Type
  2. Yang Deficiency Type
  3. Yin Deficiency Type
  4. Tropical Type
  5. Water Stag Type
  6. Qi Stag Type
  7. Blood Stag Type
  8. Sensitive Type
  9. Balanced Type

You can find out what is your body type on this page so that you will know what food to eat / avoid in order to strengthen your body.


6.食用造型美学 – Food Decoration Study (24 hrs)

This is the first practical module that relates to food. We learn different kinds of decoration and ways to cut fruits and food to present to improve food appetite. I learnt a lot from this module and it is the first time I cut fruits to present them beautifully. There are some hard work but once you get used to it, you will like it when your family members or friends see the outcome of your work =)


7.食品卫生学 – Food Hygiene Study (32 hrs)

Food hygiene module really give a lot of useful information on how to handle raw food (food storage etc) especially if you want to open a restaurant or food stall in future. In this module, we learnt what factors will affect the growth of bacteria in food ingredients.

One of the greatest takeaway from this module is that I learnt that when we buy fresh meat or fish from the market, and if we want to cook the meat / fish within the next three days, we can store them in the fridge (chiller compartment) but if we want to cook it beyond the third day, then we need to keep them in the freezer immediately once we reached home. And the best defrost method is to take the meat / fish out from the freezer and put it in the chiller two days before you want to cook it. These knowledge maybe fundamentals for most people who cook but for me, this is really useful!


8.中医营养食疗学 – TCM Food Nutrition Study (48 hrs)

I am quite surprised that in this module, we learnt a lot on vitamins and minerals that are needed by our human body. We talked about different type of minerals and vitamins and they are beneficial to us as well as different type of meat, fruits and vegetables. This information in this module is overwhelming too! At the end of this module, we were introduced some dishes that help to strengthen our organs too.

Perhaps the most valuable takeaway for me from this module is learn that the importance of including mushrooms in our daily diet. Especially for vegetarians, mushrooms is a good source of protein. On top of this, mushroom also has anti-cancer properties. Almost all mushrooms have good benefits on us except the button mushrooms (those common ones available in canned form). So if you can, eat less of those mushrooms if possible!


9.食品卫生法规 – Food Hygiene Law (12 hrs)

This is the shortest module where we learn the laws applicable in Singapore if you want to apply for license to sell food (either in Hawker centre or restaurant). Personally I take up this course is for self interest and not so much for business interest, so I didn’t really focus a lot on this module. But if you are someone who is keen to start a F&B business in Singapore, you will find this module useful and good to connect with the Lecturer who is also an experienced F&B consultant in Singapore.


10.中华药膳学 – Chinese Medicated Diet (72 hrs)

This is the main focus for this whole course and we are so delighted that the Principle of the school (项平院长) personally teach and share with us his wisdom from start to end! This module is what most of us have been waiting to learn from the beginning! It covers hundreds of dishes for different type of illness and this module also teaches us the different way of cooking like steam, water boil, fry and many others.

I am happy that we have some handson lessons to practice cooking and making baos with Chinese medicine before we went to China. My greatest takeaway is the handson where everyone comes together and work as a team to prepare the dishes that we learn. We had a lot of fun =)

My first attempt on bao making!


11.烹饪器具使用和维护 – Cooking utensils usage and maintenance (24 hrs)

This is one of the few last modules and we were taught the different cooking or rather kitchen equipment and maintenance. This module is very short and the content is not as rich as I thought. Most of the things taught are mostly applicable to commercial stall so if you are looking to start a F&B business, then this is a good module for you.


12.烹饪经营与管理学 – F&B Operations and Management Study (16 hrs)

This module is more for people who want to start a F&B business, so again, most of the things taught is just for my knowledge. My greatest takeaway here is learning from the life & business experience from our class monitor, who is 沈希, the founder of 沈希老火汤 in Singapore. I am really fortunate to be in the same class as him for these two years =)


13.扬州大学实习 – Handson Experience In YangZhou University (48 hrs)

I was pretty anxious about this trip because I don’t know what to expect but I heard that it was packed with activities (classes, cooking). Indeed, we hardly have time personally other than after the class ends around 6pm.

Everyday our class starts at 8am and we have to catch the bus from school outside our hotel at 7.30am. But I really enjoy that period of time where we wake up, have breakfast in hotel, say good morning to classmates then wait for the bus, I cherish every moment from climbing the staircase (to the classrooms / kitchen) to changing to our chef uniform because I know that very likely in short term there won’t be much chance in future I will be back to YangZhou University to learn again.

We had a very fulfilling experience over in China learning theory and practical from the Masters. I am also happy that we had some time in the second last day to tour around the city as a class before we head back to Singapore. I am not a photo-taking person so the following are almost all the photos I have.. =p

You can read more about our China trip over at Singapore TCM College website here.


Few months after I returned from China YangZhou…

I am happy whenever I can put what I have learnt into practice. So ever since I returned from China, I make it a habit to cook some of our meals with my wife using what I have learnt. I particularly like to cook porridge because it is much easier to add Chinese medicine to help us harmonize the Yin Yang energy in our body from time to time. The following are some of the simple dishes my wife and I prepared at home (I would never imagine I could do this before this course!)

I have personally benefited from this course greatly. From the skills I learnt, I can now able to plan, prepare and cook meals for my family members considering their different body types. You can check out for more details regarding this course here.

I hope that this post help to clarify some questions in your mind if you are considering to take this Diploma course or not. Good luck!

Ending note: I will be sharing some of the important things I have learnt from this course in this blog because I hope more people can benefit from the TCM wisdom. If you have any questions for me, you can post your comments below.