Issue 122, May 2013
Staying healthy the traditional way
TCM professionals discuss herbs, nutrition and the individual constitution at the 24th Distinguished Alumni Forum

At the forum titled ‘Herb and Nutrition for a Healthier Life’, NTU alumni were treated to an interesting talk on nutrition in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the importance of Qi, Blood, the Yin-Yang balance, and the individual constitution. 

In TCM, Qi is the energy or substance in the body that protects against invading pathogens, drives blood, water passage and promotes digestion, warms the body and nourishes the tissues and prevents the loss of fluids. The balance of Yin and Yang reflects the interdependence and mutual restraint of opposing forces in the human body.

The first speaker was TCM physician and Director of Renhai Clinic, Professor Hong Hai. He is currently also an Adjunct Professor at Nanyang Business School and Senior Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies. He spoke about the differences in Western and TCM diet and nutrition. He explained that while Western nutrition is based on a balanced diet with prescribed proportions of carbohydrate, protein and fats, with adequate vitamins and minerals, Chinese medicine is based on the knowledge and experience gained from ancient times, when food products were classified according to their effects on the human body.

He highlighted that diet and nutrition should be customised to one’s constitution, as each individual is different. “To eat right, understand your body well first,” he said. He went on to give some examples of Qi tonic herbs (for example Ginseng), Blood tonic herbs (for example Angelica), Yin tonic herbs (for example Wolfberry), and Yang tonic herbs (for example Cordycep). There are also Qi tonic foods such as Chinese yam and peanuts, Blood tonic foods such as pork liver and lamb, Yin tonic foods such as white fungus and bird’s nest, and Yang tonic foods such as Chinese Chives.

NTU alumnus Ms Karen Wee (SBS/2010), a TCM physician at the Renhai Clinic, was the second forum speaker. She explained the characteristics of the different kinds of external and internal pathogens which cause illnesses. External pathogens refer to wind, cold, heat, dryness and dampness, while internal pathogens include emotions, phlegm, blood stasis and toxic chemicals.

Ms Wee also highlighted some of the different herbs one may take to regulate Qi (chaihu, xiangfu, rose flower), and herbs to treat blood stasis by improving circulation ( turmeric, peach seed and chuanxiong).

Alumni who attended the forum were extremely enthusiastic, asking many TCM-related questions in a Q&A session that lasted for more than 30 minutes. Close to 180 alumni and guests attended the forum held on 15 May.

Click here to view the photos.

© Alumni Affairs Office