A healthy alternative
Chinese remedies to help children stay fit and strong are becoming popular as parents discover these herbs and medicines aid body functions and prevent ailments, writes Mary Luk
Many children suffer from a loss of appetite and indigestion often resulting from an overindulgence in junk food. Eating the appropriate Chinese herbal soups can regulate children's spleens and stomachs, improving their digestive systems, according to Wong Kwok-wing, retail manager and registered traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctor for Eu Yan Sang.
'Good absorption and digestion means the nutrition in the food taken can be turned into energy and be effectively circulated to all the organs, thereby improving one's health,' he said. 'Without this, organ malfunctions can result in a weakened immune systems and weight loss.'
A soup boiled with rhizoma dioscoreae, semen euryales, lotus and lean pork is one of the most common dietary supplements families can prepare to boost their children's immune systems. For busy parents who do not have time to prepare soup, they may use Chinese proprietary medicine products. For example, if infants or children have 'heat evil' (normally from eating fried foods - symptoms include thirst, constipation, insomnia and acne) they can try a Bo Ying compound that can relieve a variety of mild symptoms by clearing away heat and dispelling 'wind evil'.
According to Chinese medical practices, 'wind' manifests itself in various ways. Nei feng, or endogenous (arising from within) wind-syndrome, occurs during the course of a disease, while exogenous (from outside the body) evils display neurological symptoms such as dizziness, convulsions and tremors. Mr Wong says parents whose children display these symptoms are advised to seek medical treatment.
Monkey bezoar powder is a good remedy for coughs, however for children suffering from chronic coughing, Mr Wong suggests parents try Chinese medical therapy. 'Long-time coughing will harm the lungs. As long as Chinese medical practitioners correctly identify the cause of the coughing and prescribe suitable medicine, experience shows that Chinese medicine is more effective than western medicine.'
He says Chinese herbs and medicine are grown naturally without chemicals and are effective for all. With information on Chinese herbs and medicine translated into many different languages and also available on the internet, Mr Wong hopes more people around the world will benefit from them.
Registered TCM doctor Li Ning-hon says many Chinese herbs are extremely mild and safe for consumption. 'Apart from helping to improve children's health such as having a better appetite, they can be served as food and soup in family meals.'
However, he says if children have symptoms such as fever, coughing or flu, he suggests parents do not rely solely on Chinese medical products. Parents should consult a qualified doctor first. 'Although these illnesses are common to children, it is important to find out the cause and treat them accordingly. A simple flu symptom, for example, if not properly treated, can develop into pneumonia.'