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Food therapy

Food therapy is the practice of healing using natural food items instead of medication. It fits in well with the principles of Chinese medicine. It is particularly popular among Cantonese people who enjoy slow-cooked soups that are essence and extracts of the cooking ingredients.

Some common food therapy items and recipes:

Bird nest: oral secretion of swifts, collected from the binding material of their nests.

  • Alleged effects: promote beautiful skin for women; "strengthen the spleen and open up the stomach" (meaning improve appetite.)
  • vegetables and fruits are believed to nullify the effect of bird nest if taken within the same day.
  • The dried material is soaked in water to rehydrate.
  • The soaked bird nest is cleaned by hand to remove other nest building debris such as grass and feathers.
  • The cleaned and crumbled bird nest is double steamed with rock sugar as a dessert or with a small amount of pork as a soup.

Korean or Chinese ginseng: root of a plant that has the Yang properties.

  • Alleged effects: promote circulation, increase blood supply, revitalize and aid recovery from weakness after illness.
  • The ginseng root is double steamed with chicken meat as a soup. (See samgyetang[?].)

American ginseng: root of a plant similar to Korean ginseng[?], but it has the Yin properties.

  • Alleged effects: cleansing of excessive Yang in the body.
  • The ginseng is sliced, a few slices are soaked in hot water to make a tea.
  • Most American ginseng is produced in Wisconsin, USA.

A Cantonese cough remedy: Dried duck gizzards, watercress[?], apricot kernels:

  • Alleged effects: relieve both Yin (resulted from cold) or Yang (resulted from dryness) type of coughing.
  • Water cress is for removing excessive yang in the body.
  • The sweet apricot kernels and bitter apricot kernels target the lungs.
  • The dried duck gizzards are used to balance the Yin Yang of the recipe.
  • water cress is available in most supermarkets while the rest of the ingredients can be found in most Chinese herb stores.
  • The ingredients are slow cooked for couple of hours into a soup, a small piece of pork is optional for flavor.
  • Do not use beef or chicken in this recipe because they nullify the effects of the water cress.

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