Beauty

Seven Days of TCM Tonics for Ladies

Women age fast after 30, and it’s not easy to replenish what our bodies are rapidly consuming and losing. After turning 30, I’ve become a lot more conscious of my health and wellness. My maternal side of the family was in the TCM business, I’ve always believed in the healing power of natural herbs. Sharing a 7-day series of pick-me-up tonics tailored for busy women who’re looking to enhance their physical and internal wellness.

I don’t have the healthiest of habits – I love red wine and am a late-night dweller. Naturally, my body belongs to the ‘cold’ type – 寒性体质 – as most women are, no thanks to the monthly loss of blood and iron. As long as you interpret bodily signs that might indicate what you’re lacking, you can improve your overall well-being. In China, most women take tonics on a daily basis as seasonal changes take a heavy toll on their bodies, that’s how they maintain their pinkish glow even in the coldest of winters! I’ve embarked on my TCM journey, and so can you. All you need is a slow cooker (1.0L for one serving, 1.5L – 2.0L for two to three servings), and some knowledge of herbs. Allow me to share what I’ve taken during a seven-day period.

Please note that all bodily reactions to herbs and tonics are subjective, and you should consult a doctor if you have pre-existing conditions. You should avoid taking some herbs on a daily basis, whereas other herbs are safe for daily consumption (goji berries, red dates etc). It all depends on your body type and reaction, so do get that sorted out! Here we go~

Day 1: Energy-boosting Beauty Tonic 补气美颜汤

Day 1 - Ingredients

Ingredients
❥ 3 Red Dates
❥ 3g Angelica Root / Dong Quai
❥ 2g Lilium / Dried lily flower
❥ 5g Goji Berries
❥ 10 Dried French Roses
❥ 5g Dried Longan
Boiled in a 1.0L slow cooker for 2 hours, serves one

Day 1 - Soup

Wash all ingredients and place in slow cooker pot for 2 hours. A tad bitter thanks to Dong Quai, so you may add some crystal sugar or brown sugar as you please.

The magic ingredient in this one is the Angelica Root or the Dong Quai. It regulates, boosts one’s Qi, and increases blood flow, which is important if you’re constantly sitting down in your daily work. Not recommended if you’re on your menses, ladies! Recommended for consumption before or after your periods.

Day 2 Morning: Collagen Boosting Tonic Soup 美颜滋补汤

Day 2 Morning - Ingredients

❥ 2g Dried Longan
❥ 1/3 Snow Pear (cut)
❥ 5g Goji Berries
❥ 3 Red Dates
❥ 1 cube brown sugar (not pictured)
❥ Spoonful of peach gum, soaked overnight
Boiled in 1.0L slow cooker for 3.5 hours, serves one

Day 2 Morning - Soup

Peach gum completely melts after 3.5 hours so all the collagen goodness is in the tonic. Snow pear is good for throat and coughs too!

Snow pears are great for eliminating excess mucus, improving coughs and nourishing the lungs, so it’s an apt time to be drinking pear tonics to avoid pseudo Covid-19 symptoms. This also makes for a healthy sweet dessert, with more natural sugars instead of artificial ones.

The Straits Times has in the past published a recipe for Chinese Pear and Snow Fungus Soup and it’s definitely good for beating the heat on warm humid days!

Day 2 Night: Dispel ‘Dampness’ Tonic 祛湿补气汤

Day 2 Night - Ingredients

❥ 3g Lilium
❥ 3g Cordyceps Flowers
❥ 3g Goji Berries (half a handful)
❥ 3g Gorgon
❥ 3g Codonopsis (or 1 stick, chopped)
❥ 3 Red Dates
❥ 3 sticks of Chinese Yam
Boiled in 1.0L slow cooker for 3.5hours, serves one / two

Day 2 Night - Soup

You may choose to eat some of the ingredients, but by the end of 3.5hours, the goodness is in the tonic.

Our bodies accumulate a lot of dampness (湿气) through our daily activities such as sleeping late, drinking cold water or eating cold foods, sleeping in air-conditioned rooms, having a fan blow at us constantly, etc. Dampness is said to weaken our major organs – kidneys, liver, stomach, heart – and key ingredients like the Gorgon are effective at dispelling this internal dampness. A lot of TCM procedures are targeted at dispelling dampness, if you’ve ever tried cupping (ba guan 拔罐), the procedure suctions out dampness in our bodies to aid muscle aches and rheumatism, as well as to restore a healthy flow of energy.

Introducing a moderate amount of dampness dispelling TCM herbs can also have similar long-term effects! Such herbs include Gorgon (芡实), China Root (茯苓), Pueraria (粉葛), Mulberry Leaf (桑叶) etc.

Day 3: Blood Booster Tonic 补血汤

Day 3 - Ingredients

❥ 3g Goji Berries (half a handful)
❥ 3g Red Beans
❥ 3g Dried French Roses
❥ 3 Red Dates
❥ 3 sticks of Chinese Yam

I’m anemic and naturally pale as a ghost, as most women are if they don’t consume enough irons in their daily feed. Red Chinese herbs have long been consumed by Chinese women as a blood booster. Just Google 五红汤 (‘five reds soup’) and the five basic ingredients for this centuries-old formula pops up: red beans, red peanuts, red dates, goji berries, red sugar. I’m using 3 out of the 5 key ingredients for this one!

Chinese Yam (淮山) has been used for blood detoxification and reducing blood sugar, and for women in particular, Chinese yam has traditionally been used to treat hot flashes associated with menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In addition to medicinal properties, the yam itself is also a nutritious food with loads of vitamins B & C as well as supplementary amino acid! However there are definitely risks in over-consumption, and medicinal interactions so if you’re on any medications, it’s best to seek professional advice. Chinese yam has properties that can cause it to act like a mild form of estrogen which can negatively interact with hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills.

For women with no pre-existing conditions, looking to boost their blood circulation, this could be a good supplementary tonic once a week, especially after your periods.

Day 4:Blood and Energy Boosting Tonic 补血补气汤

Day 4 - Ingredients

❥ 3g Lilium
❥ 3g Cordyceps Flowers
❥ 3g Goji Berries (half a handful)
❥ 3g Gorgon
❥ 3g Angelica Roots
❥ 3g Codonopsis (or 1 stick, chopped)
❥ 3 Red Dates
❥ 3 sticks of Chinese Yam
❥ 1 cube of old brown sugar

Day 4 - Soup

Boiled in 1.0L slow cooker for 3.5hours, serves one / two

Note: If you’re feeling heaty, you might want to cut out Angelica Root (当归) altogether, as it is an innately heaty herb that stimulates the system. According to the Chinese herbology documentations, all herbs have innately heaty or cooling properties which may react (stimulate or soothe) your body’s pre-existing conditions.

This tonic is generally a heaty concoction so you may feel a flush after, so do avoid if you’re already heaty.

Day 5: Beautifying Energy Boosting Tonic 美颜补气汤

Day 5 - Ingredients

Beautification comes from detoxifying the body, hence a combination of these herbs are good for a good body detox. Meantime, cordyceps helps to boost your daily energy levels.

Do not consume a combination of Codonopsis, Angelica Root and Cordyceps too late into the night as you might experience some insomnia (true story, I had trouble sleeping after drinking this past 11PM)

Day 6 Morning: Beautifying Blood Boosting Dessert 美颜补血甜汤

Morning (1) - Ingredients

❥ 3g Lilium
❥ 3g Goji Berries (half a handful)
❥ 3g Gorgon
❥ 3g Dried Longan
❥ 3g Red Beans
❥ 2 Honey Dates
❥ 3 Red Dates
❥ 1 handful of peach gum, soaked overnight

Morning (2)

Boiled in 1.0L slow cooker for 3.5hours, serves one / two. Peach gum more or less completely dissolves so the collagen goodness is in the soup.

Included the red powerhouses in this tonic: red beams, gojis, red dates, for blood boosting capabilities. Peach gum boosts the body’s level of collagen without causing a hole in your pocket, but it takes a longer time to prepare. You’ll need to soak overnight and then try to get rid of the black bits that are just starting to dislodge from the peach gum. The black bits are bark that got stuck in the sap as it hardened. Peach gum generally goes well with red dates, honey dates and dried longan for a yummy dessert!

Day 7: Beautifying Snow Fungus and Papaya Milk Tonic 木瓜银耳炖奶

Evening (1) - Ingredients


❥ 3g Goji Berries (half a handful)
❥ 3g Red Beans
❥ 3 Red Dates
❥ 3 Pieces Snow Fungus, soaked for 3 hours
❥ Chopped Papaya
❥ 1 Old Brown Sugar

Milk as the last ingredient, do not boil milk together with all other ingredients

Evening (2)

Boiled in 1.0L slow cooker for 4 hours, serves two. Add milk after tonic has boilt fully and simmered for 4 hours, ready to be served.

There’s no need to elaborate on the beauty efficacies of a combination of snow fungus, papaya and milk. This tonic takes a lot of time and work, especially in cutting and soaking the snow fungus. Rest assured this recipe will help you serve up a good dessert next time you have guests over at your place!

Have stocked up a lot of herbs from various dried good stores recently, so I’ll share more on what I take on a daily basis (when I’m not too busy to wash and leave the herbs in my slow cooker). Try this routine yourself, and although the results don’t happen overnight, your overall wellness will definitely pick up in the long run.

Share with me your own TCM tonic recipes!

xoxo,
Jean

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