The rain has come and the air is clear, but you and the kids are still experiencing one of the worst effects of the haze – a dry, itchy, sore throat. It is not severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor, but the discomfort is a distraction that you would prefer not to have, especially during this exam season.
Apart from drinking lots of water, and sucking on lozenges, one good way to help soothe throats is to take ‘cooling’ soups and drinks — just like the ones that our mothers and grandmothers used to brew for us. We asked Eu Yan Sang physician Fan Yu Zhen for recipes that work, and have also included some that our fellow mums are already brewing for their families.
TCM and the Haze
According to Physician Fan, our throats feel this way because the haze has pathogens that TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) classifies under “dryness”, “dampness” and “toxins” categories. These pathogens enter our body through the nose and mouth and disturb the proper functioning of the lungs, spleen, and the heart.
- “Dryness” harms the fluid in our body and affects the lung qi, causing symptoms like thirst, dry throat and mouth, and dry cough.
- “Dampness” obstructs the flow of qi in the body and impairs the spleen function, causing symptoms such as phlegm, stuffy nose, headache and stuffy chest.
- “Toxins” can accumulate in the body and cause sudden worsening of existing conditions, and also affect the heart system to cause symptoms like chest pain and palpitations.
It is worse for young ones, says Fan. She tells us that children may have more severe symptoms than adults because their organs, according to TCM, are not fully developed, and their lungs, spleen, and kidney systems are deficient. Hence, children are more vulnerable to external pathogens such as those mentioned above.
Fan recommends the following soup and drink to help combat the after-effects of the haze. These are safe for young children, pregnant women, and mothers who are breastfeeding. However, if you have a weak spleen (get stomachaches easily, or have loose stools), you should avoid taking these herbs, she cautions.
TCM Recipes to Ease a Sore Throat
Common ingredients can be easily found in supermarkets and wet markets, while herbs can be bought at Chinese medicinal halls.
Lung Moisturizing Soup
This soup has Yin-tonifying herbs that increase the fluids in our body in order to moisturise our lungs.
Ingredients: Coasial Glehnia Root (北沙参) 20g, Dwarf Lilyturf Tuber (麦冬) 20g, Lily bulb (百合)15g, Solomon’s Seal (玉竹) 15g, Chinese Yam (淮山) 15g, Pork 150g, Water 2L, Salt to taste
Method: Add all ingredients into a pot, add water and cook for 1.5 hours.
Toxin Clearing Tea for a Sore Throat
This tea is most suitable for those with a sore throat. Japanese honeysuckle and chrysanthemum can detoxify and clear heat. Monk’s fruit can clear lung heat, soothe the throat, relieve cough, dissolve phlegm, and help bowel movement. Orange peel can regulate the movement of qi, remove dampness and eliminate phlegm.
Ingredients: Japanese Honeysuckle (金银花) 5g, Chrysanthemum (菊花) 5g, Monk’s fruit (罗汉果) 1 piece, Orange Peel (陈皮) 6g
Method: Add all ingredients into a pot, add water and cook for 10 minutes.
Mum-Tested: ‘Cooling’ Soups and Drinks
These mum-recommended concoctions are simple to put together, and can be ready in less than an hour (except for the soup, which will require at least two hours), making them ideal for busy mums.
They can also be prepared in a thermal pot. Just put the ingredients in, bring to a boil, and leave to ‘cook’ in the thermal pot for the rest of the day. This is ideal if you are a working mum, or if you need to run errands outside of the home. It will be ready to drink when you get home later.
Winter Melon with Pork Ribs Soup
Ingredients: Winter melon (cut into one-inch cubes), pork ribs, dried scallop (soaked), red dates (soaked), wolf berries (soaked)
Method: Add ingredients into a pot of water, bring to the boil, then simmer until meat is tender. Add salt to taste if you like. I do not, as I prefer to boil the soup for a longer time. This infuses the soup with the flavours of the ingredients and gives it richness, making salt unnecessary.
Barley with Winter Melon drink
Ingredients: China barley, Holland barley, winter melon (cut Into cubes), rock sugar (optional)
Method: Boil ingredients together in a pot until barley is soft, strain, and add sugar if you want to. Some people use candied winter melon instead of fresh winter melon. Either one is fine. The cooked winter melon from this drink can be eaten, or added to soups.
Pandan and lemongrass drink
Ingredients: Pandan leaves, lemon grass, palm sugar or honey
Method: Wash the pandan leaves, cut off the ends, fold and tie into a neat bundle. Wash lemongrass and chop off the ends. Peel off the outer layer. Cut into smaller pieces. Place all into a pot of water, cook for 15 to 30 minutes. Add palm sugar or honey if you prefer a sweeter version.
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