Women in Singapore often juggle work, family and other commitments.
As they take care of others, these dedicated women sometimes neglect their own needs and start to display premature signs of ageing.
By nourishing their bodies with Chinese herbs and massaging certain acupoints, they can delay the ageing process.
Physician Anita Pee from Eu Yan Sang TCM Wellness Clinic @ Plaza Singapura shares with AsiaOne some tips on graceful ageing for women:
As recorded in the Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine(黄帝内经), a 35-year-old woman will start to show initial signs of ageing, such as sallowness in the face and hair loss. At 42, she will develop further signs of ageing, like sagging skin and greying hair.
From a TCM perspective, the body's essence is significantly reduced after the age of 40, according to a quote from the Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine "年过四十而阴气自半".
The kidneys' 'Jing' (精), responsible for growth and life processes within the body, declines with age. Similarly, the liver's blood-storing function becomes inadequate.
Deficiency in the kidneys and liver manifests as greying hair and hair loss, weakness and pain in joints and limbs, irregular menstruation and dry eyes.
Fleeceflower root soup
Some herbs that help to strengthen the kidneys and the liver include glossy privet fruits (Nvzhenzi, 女贞子), fleeceflower root (Heshouwu, 何首乌), black sesame seeds (Heizima, 黑芝麻), prepared rehmannia root (Shudihuang, 熟地黄) and Chinese wolfberries (Gouqizi, 枸杞子).
Meanwhile, foods that can replenish kidney and liver deficiency include dark green leafy vegetables, black beans, black sesame seeds, black fungus and walnut.
While kidney deficiency is the main cause of ageing, other organs play a part as well.
The spleen is responsible for processing and absorbing nutrients from diet, which is used in the production of 'Qi' and blood. A weak spleen and the lack of 'Qi' can lead to fatigue, sallow complexion, puffiness, sagging skin and organ prolapse.
Herbs that help to boost spleen function include Chinese yam (Huaishan, 淮山), poria (Fuling, 茯苓), codonopsis root (Dangshen, 党参), white atractylodes (Baizhu, 白术).
Foods that strengthen the spleen are Chinese yam, coix seeds and red dates. Avoid cold or raw foods, as well as excessive fruits and juices.
For youthful skin and rosy complexion
As a woman ages, her complexion becomes dull, and wrinkles and pigmentation start to appear.
In TCM, the lungs nourish the skin while the heart ensures adequate blood circulation and transports blood and nutrients to the fine vessels in the face. Therefore, it is important to nourish the heart and lungs to maintain youthful skin and rosy complexion.
Some useful herbs include ganoderma mushroom (Lingzhi, 灵芝), ginseng (Renshen, 人参), chinese angelica (Danggui, 当归) and bird's nest (Yanwo, 燕窝).
Common food that can strengthen the heart and lungs are white fungus, lily bulbs, longan, pears and lotus seeds.
Before consuming any herbal prescription, seek the advice of a registered TCM physician.
Delay ageing with a healthy lifestyle
Sleep early - preferably before 11pm so that the organs, especially the liver, have time to repair themselves.
Eat your meals on time, maintain a balanced diet and lead an active lifestyle.
These positive lifestyle changes, together with appropriate use of Chinese herbs and a nutritious diet, may delay physical ageing and promote a youthful appearance.
TCM recipes to nourish the body
Black sesame walnut milk
Ingredients: Walnut（核桃仁） 30g, Black sesame （黑芝麻）20g, Soybean milk（豆奶）500ml
Method: Grind walnut and black sesame into powder, then add soybean milk and bring to a boil. Sugar may be added to taste. Drink a cup of black sesame walnut milk in the morning and at night.
Effects: Replenish kidney and liver essence. This recipe is great for preventing or reducing grey hair, and it also promotes smooth bowel movements.
White fungus lotus seed soup (Serves 6)
Ingredients: Dried white fungus(白木耳) 2 pieces, Lotus seeds(莲子) one handful; with green centres removed, if any, Red dates(红枣) one handful, 1,000ml of water
Method: Soak white fungus in water for 30 minutes or until soft, then wash and remove the hard bottom, and cut into smaller pieces. Place all ingredients in a pot and add water. Bring to a boil then cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add rock sugar to taste. Serve warm.
Effects: This soup helps in maintaining youthful skin.
Acupoint massage for older women
In TCM, 'Qi' of the body flows through energy channels called meridians, which are associated with internal organs. Acupoints are points located along these meridians and stimulating certain acupoints can correct imbalances in the body and boost organ function.
Here are 3 anti-aging acupoints that are useful for older women: Tai Xi (太溪穴), San Yin Jiao（三阴交穴）, Zu San Li（足三里穴）.
'Tai Xi' is a point on the kidney meridian, which can be used to reinforce kidney 'Jing'.
'San Yin Jiao' is the point of intersection between the spleen, kidney and liver meridians. Stimulating this acupoint promotes healthy flow of 'Qi' and blood on all three meridians and in their corresponding organs. It can also help to regulate menstruation and alleviate menopausal symptoms. Do note that San Yin Jiao should not be used during pregnancy.
'Zu San Li' promotes overall well-being of the body and boosts the body's immune system.
Press and massage each acupoint for 5-10 minutes, 2 times a day.
The above self-help acupoint tips serve as a guide. It is essential to consult a TCM Physician for a proper diagnosis if one is feeling unwell or pregnant.
This article is contributed by Eu Yan Sang, for more information, visit www.euyansangclinic.com .