This story was first published in The Straits Times on June 20, 2014.
Being outdoors in Singapore's stifling heat and humidity can be unbearable at times. Things could get worse, with the haze poised to hit Singapore in the coming weeks.
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the lungs are most vulnerable to external pathogens. So, the heat and the haze can lead to respiratory problems.
Ms Lim Sock Ling of Bao Zhong Tang TCM Centre said that dryness caused by the haze can lead to throat discomfort, thirst, dry skin and eyes and a cough that is dry or with white and sticky phlegm. Others may suffer runny nose with viscous mucus, a cough with yellow or green phlegm or even constipation, she added.
Cooling teas can douse your body's internal heat. These can be consumed daily till symptoms improve. Mind Your Body gets physicians to share six easy-to-prepare brews:
1. PARCHED THROATS, DRY COUGHS AND DRY SKIN
Ingredients: 6g glehnia root (nanshashen), 6g dwarf lilyturf tuber (maidong), 9g fragrant Solomon's seal rhizome (yuzhu), 9g trichosanthes root (tianhuafen), 300ml-500ml hot water
Method: Soak all the ingredients in hot water for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves one to two.
Use with caution: People who are prone to bouts of diarrhoea, who suffer from coughs arising from wind and cold pathogens (constantly feeling cold, white phlegm, runny nose).
2. SORE THROATS, RUNNY NOSE WITH VISCOUS MUCUS, COUGHS WITH YELLOW OR GREEN PHLEGM, CONSTIPATION
Ingredients: 3g honeysuckle flowers (jinyinhua), 3g weeping forsythia capsule (lianqiao), 3g peppermint leaves, 3 pcs boat-fruited steculia seed (pangdahai), 300ml-500ml hot water.
Method: Soak all the ingredients in hot water for 15 to 30 minutes before serving. Serves one to two.
Use with caution: Those with a weak stomach or spleen, usually marked by a bloated abdomen, loose stools and a poor appetite; and those with a qi deficiency, which is characterised by fatigue and abnormal sweating.
3. HAZE-RELATED ALLERGIES, PEOPLE WHO USE THEIR VOICE EXCESSIVELY FOR WORK, PAINFUL SORES ON THE BODY
Ingredients: 6g peppermint leaves, 12g burdock seeds, 350ml water
Method: In a pot with 350ml of water, boil burdock seeds for 15 minutes, then lower the fire to remove the seeds and add in the peppermint leaves before serving. Alternatively, steep the burdock seeds and peppermint leaves in hot water before serving. Serves one.
Use with caution: People weakened by prolonged illnesses; and those who sweat excessively.
4. DRY COUGHS, SORE EYES, EXCESSIVE THIRST, NIGHT-TIME SWEATING
Ingredients: 10g mulberry leaves (sangye), 10g herba dendrobii (shihu), 350ml water
Method: Rinse mulberry leaves and herba dendrobii, then boil them in 350ml water or soak them in hot water for 15 minutes. Sieve out the ingredients before consuming. Serves one.
Use with caution: People with a cold constitution, as shown by their aversion to cold and a pale complexion.
5. HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, EASILY TIRED EYES DUE TO A 'HEATY' LIVER
Ingredients: 10g mulberry leaves, 10g chrysanthemum flowers, 3g liquorice root, 350ml water, sugar to taste
Method: Boil all the ingredients in a pot with 350ml of water, filter out the herbs, add sugar to taste and serve. Serves one or two.
Use with caution: People with low blood pressure.
6. BREATHLESSNESS, FATIGUE, PEOPLE WITH WHITE FILM ON TONGUES
Ingredients: 60g astralagus root (huangqi), 60g Chinese barley (yiyiren), 50g elsholtzia (xiangru), 30g mulberry leaves (sangye), 20g white hyacinth beans (baibiandou), rock sugar as desired, 3 litres water
Method: In a pot with all the ingredients, bring 3 litres of water to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Add rock sugar to taste before serving. Serves four to five.
Use with caution: None.
(Recipes by: Bao Zhong Tang TCM Centre's Ms Lim Sock Ling and Ms Joanna Liew, Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic's Madam Lim Chin Choo and Ms Koh Moh Cheng, Fu Yang Tang Medical Hall's Mr Sim Beng Choon)