How can Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) help to boost your child’s immunity? Pharmacist Jennifer Chew answers some commonly asked questions.

Boosting Your Child's Immunity With TCM Herbs

What is the TCM view on immunity?

In recent months, pharmacist Jennifer noticed that more parents are asking for traditional Chinese herbs instead of western medication when their children are down with the common cold. On top of western supplements such as vitamin C and zinc, parents have also been asking for herbs such as Cordyceps (冬虫夏草) and Fritillaria (川贝母).

According to TCM principles, organs such as the spleen, stomach and kidney are viewed as the basis of good health. A weakened spleen and stomach may slow down nutritional absorption rate. The kidney maintains the yin and yang balance in the body. It is this harmony of yin and yang that is instrumental in healthy growth and a strong immune system. From a TCM perspective, the use of traditional Chinese herbs enhances one’s immunity level, as the herbs aids in harmonising the spleen, stomach and kidney functions.

What TCM herbs are useful in boosting immunity?

Common TCM herbs that can strengthen our immune system are:

  • Poria (茯苓) – strengths the spleen and stomach, and soothe the nerves and prevents ‘dampness’. Dampness here refers to lack of yang qi, which causes an imbalance between yin and yang within one’s body
  • Chinese yam (淮山) – tonic for the kidneys and lungs
  • Solomon’s seal rhizome (玉竹) – for hydration and nourishing the lungs
  • Lotus seeds (莲子) – nourishes the heart, strengthens the spleen and kidneys
  • Fox nuts (芡实) – strengthens the spleen and kidneys
  • Dried Longan (桂圆肉) – has ‘warming’ properties (can I use ‘heating’ instead of warming?)
  • Cordyceps (虫草) – improves heart health, strengthens the lung and kidney functions, promotes overall vitality
  • Chinese wolfberries (枸杞) – improves eyesight, strengthens the kidney and liver, improves blood circulation
  • Ginseng(人参)- Tonifies the qi in the spleen and kidneys, strengthens the lungs and improves immunity

When can I start my child on TCM?

The traditional herbs mentioned above are generally suitable for children above 2 years.

Besides taking supplement pills, how can I boost my little one’s immunity?

Other than taking pills or engaging a licensed pediatric tui na practitioner to perform tui na massage, you can use packed soups found in medicinal halls or in supermarkets such as NTUC Fair Price or Sheng Siong to help boost one’s immunity:

1. ‘四神汤’ or ‘Four Spirits Soup’ – comprises of 茯苓,淮山,莲子和芡实 (Poria, Chinese Yam, Lotus Seed, Fox Nuts). This is a traditional soup recipe that improves appetite and strengthens the spleen and kidney.

2. ‘六味汤’ or “Six Combination Soup’ – comprises of玉竹, 百合, 莲子,芡实,淮山,桂圆肉 (Solomon’s Seal, Lily Bulb, Lotus Seed, Chinese Yam, Fox Nuts and Dried Longan). This is an all-time favourite soup that strengthens the spleen and kidneys, improves digestion and helps to get rid of excess ‘heat’ in the body.

3. 清补汤 or ‘Superior Herbal Soup’ – comprises of 党参,北芪, 淮山, 玉竹, 川芎,枸杞, 红枣 (Poor man’s ginseng, Mongolian milkvetch,Chinese Yam ,Solomon’s Seal, Sichuan lovage rhizome, Chinese wolfberries, Red Dates). Cordyceps (冬虫夏草) can be added to this soup as an option. This remedy helps to improve one’s qi, which leads to better immunity.

How much can they take? What is the right amount?

Besides taking supplement pills, how can I boost my little one's immunity

The soup can be taken once to twice weekly by itself, as soup by itself or with main course meal. A small bowl (approximately 150ml) is enough for children. Parents can also enjoy the soup with their kids.

Word of caution

Do consult a licensed TCM practitioner before feeding your child with traditional herbs and when in doubt. There may be side effects especially for children whose kidney and liver are not fully developed, or children with medical conditions. If you wish to seek TCM treatment, do see a qualified TCM practitioner certified by the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board. The Ministry of Health website states all TCM practitioners in Singapore must be registered with the TCM Practitioners Board and hold a valid practicing certificate issued by the Board.

This article is supported by E+MED Pharmacy.

E+MED Pharmacy is a community based pharmacy, with online shopping services, aimed at providing affordable pharmaceutical drugs, health and nutritional supplements, over the counter medications, skin care, and medical devices to the general population. Their vision is to provide each consumer a holistic and value-add approach to better health.

This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine.

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