You haven’t truly lived in Singapore until you’ve tried traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Here’s the 411 on TCM in Singapore and how you can go from zero to hero, in no time.
What is TCM?
Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is an alternative medicine approach that has been around for more than 2,000 years. It originated in China and is practiced in many Chinese communities worldwide. TCM is rooted in the philosophy of yin and yang, the concept of qi, as well as the Five Elements Theory – wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
In addition to herbal medicine, TCM also employs techniques like tui na (a Chinese school of massage therapy) and acupuncture.
Some of the most influential texts in TCM history include Bencao Gangmu (Materia Medicae) and Huangdi Neijing (The Emperor’s Inner Canon), ancient books that discuss the theory of TCM and pharmacology of Chinese herbs.
How can TCM benefit me?
Today, Western medicine is sometimes complemented with TCM for a more holistic lifestyle. Herbal medicine is generally considered as a more natural approach to healthier living and most of them come with few or no side effects. Some of these herbs can also be used to create delicious and nutritious recipes for the dinner table! Aside from herbal teas and soups, Chinese herbs can be selectively chosen to enhance flavours of stir-fries, stews and much more.
What are some common herbs and their uses?
Extracts of ginkgo biloba leaf are often claimed to enhance cognitive function, increasing alertness and awareness. The Chinese also believe that its seeds have aphrodisiac qualities. The seeds are often found in a vegetarian dish called Buddha’s delight and barley water – Singaporean mums swear by this tasty, refreshing tea. This writer grew up on barley water.
Both a spice and an herb, ginger has its many uses. Julienned ginger can be tossed into vegetable or meat stir-fries (sparingly) for a little extra flavor and heat. Ginger is also good for indigestion, colds, and nausea. Grate some into your morning tea!
A common sight in Chinatowns across the globe, tangerine peel is often prescribed for treating abdominal distention or bloatedness, phlegmy cough and to enhance appetite. They are often found in dishes like red bean soup and orange chicken. Click here for some unusual uses for tangerine peel!
Tea made from chrysanthemum flowers is served at most Chinese restaurants. TCM believes that this tea prevents sore throats, alleviates fevers as well as treat stress-related eye pain. Ready-made teas (both hot and cold) are found at TCM shops island-wide.
While there are several types of ginseng, common ones include American ginseng and Asian ginseng. Both are believed to boost energy levels and cognition, reduce cancer risk and treat erectile dysfunction. Ginseng is often found in energy drinks, hair tonics and is used to make ginseng chicken soup – a nutritious soup usually consumed when battling a flu or during post-pregnancy recovery.
These tiny little raisin-like fruits are called wolfberries or goji berries and have been recently labelled as a superfruit. They are a great source of Vitamin A and the Chinese believe that they improve one’s eyesight. You can incorporate goji berries into herbal soups and teas like the ones mentioned before.
Even though cinnamon is common in the West in desserts like apple pie and cinnamon rolls, cinnamon is used in TCM to boost the immune system. Did you know that cinnamon extract is also an effective fungicide, insecticide and animal repellent (especially stray cats)?
Where can I purchase Chinese herbs?
Eu Yan Sang is one of the largest chains of TCM retailers in Singapore. In addition to retail outlets, Eu Yan Sang also offers clinical services. Click here for a list of Eu Yan Sang retail stores island-wide.
While ZTP specializes in ginseng and bird’s nest products, its chain of stores also stocks commonly used TCM herbs. Click here for a list of ZTP stores around Singapore.
Aside from its retail outlets in Singapore, Hockhua also maintains an e-store for TCM products. Free delivery for orders above $100. Click here for a list of Hockhua outlets in Singapore.
Where can I consult a TCM physician in Singapore?
Ma Kuang offers a wide array of TCM services, such as herbal medicine, cupping, gua sha and acupuncture. http://www.makuang.com.sg/en/
Sin Nam Medical Hall is popular among Singaporeans for TCM consultations and treatments. Dr. Desmond Sin has been known to divine your dietary choices, lifestyle and personality simply through listening to your pulse.
729 Yishun Street 71, #01-101, Singapore 760729
Eu Yan Sang clinics offer more than just herbal treatments. Its services include acupuncture, tui na and cupping. http://euyansangclinic.com/
The Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution runs several free clinics that only charge nominal registration and treatment fees. http://www.chunghwamedicalinstitution.com/
We hope that this article has given you a broad understanding of TCM and how to seek treatment or purchase herbs in Singapore! For more TCM remedies, click here!
By Joshua Tan, March 2016