What types of TCM herbs are safe to consume to maintain good health?

What types of TCM herbs are safe to consume to maintain good health?
Lingzhi mushrooms are rare and expensive and have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Photo: Shin Min Daily News

Many people in Singapore live busy lifestyles, often working long hours, juggling various commitments, and having poor diets, all of which may cause us to fall sick.

To prevent minor illnesses from developing into chronic conditions, it is important for us to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Besides regular exercise and a healthy diet, are there any Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) supplements you can take to improve your general health?

The answer is yes. Read on to find out more.

Lingzhi

Lingzhi is a popular medicinal mushroom that is often regarded by the Chinese as the "herb of spiritual potency" or the "mushroom of immortality".

The Chinese believe that regular consumption of Lingzhi, also known as Ganoderma Lucidum, can preserve human vitality and promote longevity.

Is there any truth in that?

These are all rather big terms, so let's break it down to understand the ancient herb a little better.

1. Most beneficial part of Lingzhi is the spores

In the past, Lingzhi was sliced, steeped in boiling water and drunk as tea. But it has been confirmed scientifically that the most beneficial part of the Lingzhi is the spores, which is also the hardest to extract.

The Lingzhi spore has a hard cell wall structure, much like the protective shell of an egg, which keeps the essential nutrients in a powdery form. When the mushroom ripens, it produces the powdery substance for only 10 days, making it extremely precious. Furthermore, the hard spore shell must be completely broken and the spores must be cracked in order that the powder can be harvested.

2. Enhances overall health by boosting immunity

The mushroom contains active compounds known as polysaccharides. These have immune-boosting effects, such as increasing the activity of white blood cells.

3. Supports healthy blood circulation and reduces allergies

Filled with triterpenes which is a compound that gives the mushroom a bitter taste, Lingzhi may help support healthy blood circulation and relieve symptoms of allergies.

4. Lingzhi is believed to influence the heart, lungs, liver and kidney channels

In TCM, Lingzhi is used to tonify the Qi, calm the mind and relieve cough and asthma. It also strengthens the respiratory system and the heart, aiding digestion and protecting the liver.

5. If you are on immune-suppressing drugs, Lingzhi may not be for you

Lingzhi may work against these drugs because of its potential stimulating effects on the immune system.

Before taking any herbal supplements, one should always consult a doctor, physician or speak to a certified herbalist.

American Ginseng

Wild American Ginseng (Photo: Eu Yan Sang)

Ginseng is a unique plant's root that's beneficial to health.

Used by kings, emperors, and wealthy households for medicinal purposes in pre-historic times, physicians have classified it as one of China's "4 main tonics".

Scientific research has shown that ginsenosides, the active components of ginseng, modulates metabolism and immune functions and supports a healthy blood circulation.

Read also: What kinds of ginseng are there and what is each one good for?

General benefits of ginseng include increasing physical strength and energy, reducing stress and fatigue, improving vitality and immunity.

The most popular ways of consuming the ginseng root are as an infusion or as an extract. Alternatively, they can be powdered and added to foods, or the powder packed into gel capsules. Eu Yan Sang has a wide variety of Ginseng available in fine herbs, tea, capsules, soup packs, wine, powder or Wild Ginseng herbs infused bottled bird nest and essence of chicken.

As always, before taking any herbal supplements, one should always consult a doctor, physician or speak to a certified herbalist.

- Certified TCM Herbalist from Eu Yan Sang

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