Red Bean Benefits In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) 

It has been raining these few days in Singapore and one of the foods that I would recommend most people to eat (if you live in a humid area) is red bean.

The reason is that red bean has strong properties in removing dampness in the body. Dampness will start to accumulate in the body when the environment is humid (warm and wet).

Dampness is also one of the main reasons why many people have skin rashes or eczema issues in tropical countries.

Do take note that not all types of red beans have dampness removal properties. When purchasing red beans for dampness removal, you should look out for 赤小豆 (that is thinner in shape), and not 红豆 (which is rounder).

Some stores out there will label 赤小豆 as adzuki beans. To be sure, do check the shape of the beans that you are buying to make sure it is thinner and longer, instead of rounder.

This is the kind of red bean (赤小豆, adzuki beans) with dampness removal properties.

The first property of red bean (赤小豆) is 利水消肿 – which means red bean can help to relieve swelling (due to water retention) by getting rid of dampness in the body (through urination).

The second property of red bean (赤小豆) is 解毒排脓 – which means it can help to detox and expel pus from the body.

Both of the above properties are very similar to Chinese barley. That’s why there is a popular recipe (which I will share later in this post) that uses both Chinese barley and red beans to clear body dampness.

There is another lesser-known property of red bean – according to one of the TCM classic records, <食性本草>, it says 赤小豆久食瘦人. It means red beans can help with weight loss when consumed in the long term.

The following is the popular recipe that uses both Chinese barley and red beans (赤小豆). This dessert recipe is effective for weight loss (long-term consumption), relieving eczema/skin rashes, water retention, and athlete’s foot.

Ingredients (for 1 pax):

  • Chinese barley (30g)
  • Red beans (赤小豆) (30g)
  • Dried tangerine peel (3g)
  • Honey dates (1 to 2pcs)


  1. Soak the Chinese barley and red beans for 1 to 1.5 hours.
  2. Cook all the ingredients in a pot of water (500g to 750g). After the water comes to a boil, turn to small fire and simmer for 45 mins to 1 hour.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

The dried tangerine peel in the recipe will increase the effectiveness of this recipe and also add flavor to this dessert.

If you do not have the time to prepare the above dessert, you can also purchase ready-made powder/tea bags like the following.

red bean chinese barley drink

You can use keywords like “赤小豆薏苡仁” on Amazon or your local popular e-commerce platform to search for related beverages.

Hope you find this post useful!

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