Promote digestive health during festive season with TCM
Protect your body against digestive issues during this festive season
Following the spate of food poisoning cases in the past month, some Singaporeans may be on high alert.
However, that does not mean dining out should be a no-go, as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offers several solutions that can help reduce your worry.
According to physician Lee Jin Shun of Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic at Bedok MRT Station, Hougang Mall and Eu Yan Sang TCM Wellness Clinics, the old saying - prevention is better than cure - applies to both Western medicine and TCM.
However, TCM's belief stems from having a strong immune system that prevents you from falling sick.
Mr Lee told The New Paper in an e-mail interview: "A TCM physician will often advise patients to avoid bingeing, or hard-to-digest food such as glutinous rice, cheese and pastry, and drinking a large amount of fluid at one go, as these can stress your digestive system and dilute digestive juices which have antibacterial and antiviral properties.
"It is also advisable to abstain from raw food items due to the higher chance of them carrying food-borne pathogens and to avoid chilled food as this can reduce the optimal enzymatic functions of the digestive system."
Protecting the body against digestive issues is highly important, especially during this festive period when people tend to eat and drink more excessively.
Having a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, a good quality of sleep and stress management all remain essential in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
Common symptoms of food poisoning include fever, abdominal pain and cramps, nausea, vomiting and watery diarrhoea. For severe cases, it can even result in dehydration and death.
In TCM, the digestive system is regulated by the TCM spleen system, which takes care of the stomach, small and large intestines. Pathogens are termed "external evils" that violate these structures and cause physiological dysfunctions.
When the body senses that food cannot be retained in the stomach, its natural reaction is the increased contraction of the intestine.
This then results in the symptoms of food poisoning, albeit as protective mechanisms to expel the harmful substances out of your system.
According to Mr Lee, "cold dampness, damp heat and epidemic toxins" are pathogenic evils commonly seen, and there are several methods typically taken to minimise the risk of getting food poisoning, or treat someone who is already suffering from it.
Mr Lee said: "Herbal prescription, acupuncture and cupping may be used to alleviate the symptoms and stimulate the self-healing mechanism within the body."
For instance, the stimulation of acupuncture points by applying pressure on them can aid in maintaining a strong immune and digestive system, to reduce the chances of food poisoning.
Acupressure is done by applying gentle but firm pressure to certain points, such as the external end of the crease on the elbow (Qu Chi) and inner part of the lower leg (Yin Ling Quan).
Afterwards, knead in a circular motion for two to three minutes.
This technique can be repeated multiple times a day.
Mr Lee also advised taking a herbal remedy - a mixture of hawthorn, malt sprouts and orange peel boiled with water - which is safe for consumption on a daily basis, to promote better digestion during this period of feasting and merrymaking.