SINGAPORE - Chinese dodder seeds ease tinnitus impact are used to remedy sexual problems.
WHAT IT IS:
Chinese dodder seeds figure in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a herb that boosts fertility.
When used as a supplement, Chinese dodder seeds, or tusizi in Chinese, are normally taken in the form of a tea brewed with the seeds.
The seeds are derived from a genus of parasitic plants, which thrive by attaching themselves to other plants.
Ms Koh Moh Cheng, a TCM practitioner at the Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic, said the dodder plant is found in most parts of China.
The third edition of Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica noted that good quality seeds are full, hard and solid with a greyish-brown or yellowish-brown surface.
A packet of Chinese dodder seeds are sold at $1.60 for a tael (37.5g) at some medical halls here.
HOW TCM USES IT:
Chinese dodder seeds are sweet in flavour and neutral in nature.
It is thought to move through the meridians of the kidneys, liver and spleen. Meridians are channels in the body through which qi (vital energy) travels.
A good flow of qi, as well as a balance of yin (the element responsible for cooling organs) and yang (the element linked to heat) in the body are needed for good health.
Chinese dodder seeds are used to tackle both yin and yang deficiencies in the kidneys, said Ms Koh.
In TCM, the kidneys are associated with the ears and, hence, the sense of hearing.
The reproductive organs are also mainly controlled by the kidneys.
A person with a yin deficiency in the kidneys - due to an overly active sexual life, an inherently weak constitution and excessive consumption of spicy food - displays signs such as a hot sensation in the palms and soles, insomnia, tinnitus and dizziness, said Ms Koh.
TCM practitioners believe that impaired kidneys can affect the health of the liver, which, in turn, is linked to the health of the eyes.
This is why factors such as emotional stress and a bad temper may also lead to a yin deficiency in the liver, which then manifests as blurred vision or dry eyes, she said.
Chinese dodder seeds are then used to improve the vision by relieving symptoms of dry eyes.
Meanwhile, a person will run into fertility problems when there is a yang deficiency in the organs - arising from a weak constitution, an overactive sex life or excessive consumption of "cold" food, which includes ice cream and raw sushi.
Men may suffer from erectile dysfunction, while women may have irregular menstruation.
In TCM, the kidneys also control the flow of body fluids, so a yang deficiency in the kidneys can lead to frequent urination, spermatorrhea (abnormally frequent and involuntary emissions of semen) in men and excessive vaginal discharge in women, said Ms Koh.
Other symptoms of this deficiency include lethargy, an aversion to cold, a sore back and aching knees.
WHO IT IS FOR:
Elderly people commonly suffer from symptoms that hint at kidney deficiencies, such as a sore back, a copious amount of urine, tinnitus and "cold" limbs.
With growth and reproduction - functions linked to the kidneys - slowing down with age, most elderly people would benefit from eating these seeds.
TCM practitioners believe that consuming too much "cold" food cools the womb too much and may spark a miscarriage.
Overall, any kind of deficiency in the body would affect one's ability to conceive and carry a baby to term, said Ms Koh.
To "calm" a foetus down and to stabilise a pregnancy, TCM practitioners prescribe Chinese dodder seeds with other herbs such as Korean ginseng and eucommia bark, she said.
A safe dose of the herb would be between 10g and 15g a day.
WHO SHOULD AVOID IT:
Ms Koh cautioned that men whose sex drive is naturally high should not take too much Chinese dodder seeds.
Those with constipation or who have difficulty urinating should also avoid this herb, which tends to warm their bodies and may worsen their symptoms, she added.
WHAT RESEARCH HAS SHOWN:
Studies had found that the key components of Chinese dodder seeds are flavonoids - beneficial plant substances that reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer.
In addition, a study conducted in China that was published in the Asian Journal Of Andrology in 2000 showed that Chinese dodder seeds were able to enhance the reproductive and endocrine functions in male rats.
The study's two authors - one from a TCM college and the other from a mainstream medical school at a university - reported that the flavonoids extracted from the seeds, when given to male rats, increased the weights of the testes, the epididymis (a structure in the scrotum which plays a crucial role in sperm metabolism and maturation) and the pituitary gland.
The substances also boosted the secretion of plasma testosterone in both immature and old male rats.
Chinese dodder seed tea
10g Chinese dodder seeds
1. Bring some water to the boil in a pot.
2. Put the Chinese dodder seeds in a cup and add the hot water.
3. Cover the cup with a lid and set aside.
4. Wait 15 minutes for the herbs to infuse the water before serving it warm.
Source: Ms Koh Moh Cheng, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner at the Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic
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