Find out which TCM supplements you can eat without fear if you need help coping with pregnancy issues like fatigue.

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From carpal tunnel syndrome and morning sickness to heartburn and various aches and pains — the pains mums-to-be sometimes deal can take the fun and joy out of their pregnancy experience.

Besides taking medication or getting physiotherapy, can consuming Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) help you in stay pink of health during your pregnancy? Do note that when you take TCM herbs without proper supervision, you may have to have to deal with side effects. So, always make sure you seek a trained TCM physician’s advice.

Good news! You’re fine if you take double-boiled soups containing herbs like bak kut teh (肉骨茶) or watercress soup not more than twice a week. Notes Gee Swee Sien, Thomson Chinese Medicine’s TCM physician, “Even if hawker centre foods or those from food courts contain Chinese herbs, their effects will not be overly concentrated, as compared to a TCM prescription.”


“Even if hawker centre or those from food courts contain Chinese herbs, their effects will not be overly concentrated, as compared to a TCM prescription.”

Gee lists the medicinal properties of common TCM herbs pregnant women take:

1. Gingko nuts (银杏/白果)

USES Often added to Chinese desserts, gingko nuts are rich in antioxidants, so this is a power food to guard against chronic and serious health conditions like cancer. Gee states that in TCM, these nuts can relieve cough, as well as prevent frequent urination and a build-up of excessive cervical mucus.

SAFE? It is safe for everyone — including pregnant women — when you only consume five to eight nuts. Gee cautions, “However, when consumed in large quantities — more than 40 to 50 nuts — this will result in nausea and diarrhoea.”

2. Bird’s Nest (燕窝)

USES Gee says that this expensive tonic ― made from the saliva of a male swiftlet ― can boost an individual’s overall immunity. “It also contains phosphorus and calcium, which are essential during the fifth to seventh month of pregnancy, when the foetus is developing very quickly.”

SAFE? Safe when consumed in moderation.

3. Ginseng (人参)

USES This herb lowers your blood sugar levels and prevents issues like gestational diabetes. The herb, which can also boost your body’s endurance and stamina, is also used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. In TCM, the herb is said to enhance one’s qi — or “life-force” — to improve their energy and alertness. Gee points out that ginseng can be help pregnant women who often feel lethargic and short of breath.

SAFE? Safe ― consume just once or twice a week.

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4. Fu Ling (茯苓)

USES Relieves water retention — or oedema — and improves one’s digestive system. The herb helps if your appetite is poor or you’re suffering from water retention in the legs.

SAFE? Safe. Simply add 10g to 15g of fu ling in soup or porridge and consume once or twice a week, Gee suggests.

5. Xu Duan (续断)

USES Commonly used to regulate liver and kidney function, it can also help to calm the foetus and it is often used with du zhong (杜仲) for better results. Gee adds that it’s especially suitable if you get backaches routinely as well as weakness in your lower limbs.

SAFE? Safe when taken as directed by a physician.

“From a TCM point of view, a good digestive system also relieves tiredness and water retention.”

6. Chinese Angelica Root or Dang Gui (当归)

USES TCM physicians often prescribe it to regulate one’s menstruation as it can nourish the blood (补血) as well as stimulate the flow (活血).

SAFE? Avoid consuming this root when you are in the early stages of your pregnancy, Gee cautions. “Since the body constitution of each individual is different, consult your TCM physician if you wish to take dang gui during the advanced stages of your pregnancy.”

Other TCM treatments to consider

If you can’t stomach TCM herbs, give TCM procedures like acupuncture a try ― it’s safe as long as a qualified and trained physician does them, Gee notes.

Acupuncture has been known to boost the health and well-being of a mum-to-be and her growing baby by:

* Improving the blood circulation, energy flow and overall vitality.

* Enhancing the digestive processes and system, which ensures both mum-to-be and baby are getting the necessary nutrition. Gee explains, “From a TCM point of view, a good digestive system also relieves tiredness and water retention.

* Regulating your kidney functions. In TCM, the kidney is thought to govern your body’s ability to grow and reproduce. Gee notes, “A strong and vibrant kidney is vital for a baby’s healthy and joyful growth.”

Photos: iStock

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