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TCM for Kids

If modern medicine isn’t doing much for your child’s persistent cough or picky eating habits, the remedy may lie with medical practices of old. Here is a simple traditional Chinese medicine guide to improving Junior’s health.

Children’s bodies are immature and have a delicate yin-yang balance, making them physically weaker, according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This makes them more susceptible to diseases that affect the lungs – colds, coughs, asthma and allergies – and the spleen, which manifests through digestive issues like colic, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach aches. TCM aims to restore harmony and balance in the body to facilitate healing. TCM treatments include acupuncture, tui na or therapeutic massage and consumption of herbs, but the latter is easiest to administer to young kids. Under the supervision of a licensed TCM practitioner, the risks should be minimal.

Many TCM prescriptions include multiple ingredients that work synergistically to restore balance. Typically comprising plant and animal parts, some formulas may have as many as 10 ingredients. Physician Peng Yaling from Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic @ Punggol and Physician Xiao Liming from Si En TCM Medical Clinic reveal the top Chinese herbal formulas for treating common childhood maladies.

1 Atractylodes Lancea | 2 Poria cum Radix Pini | 3 Common Macrocarpium Fruit | 4 Longan Aril | 5 Radix Polygalae | 6 Dried Orange Peel | 7 Common Yam Rhizome | 8 Chinese Hawthorn | 9 Wolfberry | 10 Spina Date Seed | 11 Glossy Privet Fruit | 12 Rehmannia Glutinosa | 13 Radix Angelicae Sinensis | 14 Lily Bulb | 15 Endothelium Corneum Gigeriae Galli | 16 Radix Polygoni Multiflori | 17 Radix Ophiopogonis 
Photo courtesy of Eu Yan Sang International Ltd



One of the top complaints among parents, poor appetite in children is believed to be caused by a disharmony in the spleen and stomach, says Physician Peng.

REMEDY: Atractylodes Lancea (10g), Chinese Hawthorn (10g), Dried Orange Peel (6g) and Endothelium Corneum Gigeriae Galli (6g)

COOK IT: Boil in two bowls of water until liquid is reduced by half. Split it into three or four doses over the day. This helps build up the spleen and regulate the body’s qi – the vital energy necessary for organs, meridians and tissues to function in harmony, and for development and growth.



Weakness in the heart and spleen can lead to restless sleep and overall tiredness, explains Physician Peng. REMEDY: Radix Angelicae Sinensis (9g), Radix Polygalae (6g), Poria cum Radix Pini (9g), Spina Date Seed (10g), Longan Aril (10g) and Lily Bulb (6g)

COOK IT: Boil in two bowls of water until the liquid is reduced by half. Split it into three doses over the day. It helps to build up the spleen and calm the mind.



TCM theory suggests that memory depends on the state of the spleen, kidneys and heart. If the spleen is weak, the heart, in turn, will not be nourished, which affects sleep and memory. Weak kidneys also affect the heart, causing poor memory, agitation and insomnia.

REMEDY: Cooked vegetables, fish and organic chicken help strengthen the spleen. Weakness of the spleen is often associated with sugar cravings, so boost every meal with protein rich foods like nuts, beans or chia seeds to keep your kid’s sweet tooth at bay. For a quick pick-me-up, get your little one to guzzle a warmed or chilled bottle of Eu Yan Sang Power Up! Original ($16.80 for six) on an empty stomach. It contains 100% essence of chicken, which is said to relieve physical fatigue.



The reason for your child’s recurring coughs and colds? His weak spleen. In Chinese medicine, it’s said that lungs and spleen share a close relationship. It also suggests that children under six years old have weaker spleens, as the digestive system only starts to mature from the age of six. TCM believes that phlegm is a by-product of weak digestion, and symptoms of phlegm in the lungs include sneezing, coughing, a stuffy or runny nose, and asthmatic wheezing.

REMEDY: Divaricate Saposhnikovia Root (6g), Radix Astragali or Astragalus (10g) and Largehead Atractylodes Rhizome (10g)

COOK IT: Boil in two bowls of water until the liquid is reduced by half. Split it into three doses over the day. This helps build up the lungs. To further strengthen the respiratory system, Chinese “almonds” (apricot kernels) can be eaten as a snack or made into a creamy dessert.



If the body’s defensive qi – which protects against pathogens – is weakened, the immune system is compromised and we become susceptible to illness. Defensive qi can be weakened by stress, overexposure to elements like cold or wind, or an improper diet.

REMEDY: Glossy Privet Fruit (10g), Radix Ophiopogonis (6g) and Radix Polygoni Multiflori (6g)

COOK IT: Boil in two bowls of water until liquid is reduced by half. Split it into three doses over the day. This nourishes the liver and kidneys, and boosts overall immunity.



TCM theory associates myopia with a deficiency of the liver. It’s also influenced by six environmental factors: heat, cold, wind, dampness, dryness and summer heat, which can lead to dry eyes, rapid deterioration of eyesight and other conditions.

REMEDY: Rehmannia Glutinosa (10g), Common Macrocarpium Fruit (10g), Wolfberry (6g), Chinese Dodder (6g) and Common Yam Rhizome (6g)

COOK IT: Boil in two bowls of water until liquid is reduced by half. Split it into three doses over the day. When you’re strapped for time, a bottle of Eu Yan Sang Power Up! with Wolfberries, Beiqi, Baihe Extract

($17.80 for six) should do the trick. It also contains essence of chicken, astragalus and lily bulb.



If your little one’s sporting a pale face and tongue, and seems fatigued, she may have deficiencies in the spleen, heart, liver or kidney.

REMEDY: Physician Xiao recommends a daily intake of cereal porridge containing black beans, black rice, black sesame, green beans, red beans, millet, Chinese barley, walnuts and six red dates. The ingredients have a total of five colours, and according to TCM theory, each colour nourishes one organ in the body: black for the kidneys, green for the liver, red for the heart, yellow for the spleen and white for the lungs. For an added boost, she suggests sipping a cup of American ginseng steeped in hot water just before bedtime.


By Justina Tan, Simply Her, August 2014


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