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How to Use Bird’s Nest to Alleviate Heatiness

How to Use Bird’s Nest to Alleviate Heatiness

If you’ve grown up in a Chinese family or a Chinese community, or maybe you’ve visited a traditional Chinese practitioner before, you might have heard this phrase at some point: “you are too heaty lah!” And yet, the words ‘heaty’ and ‘heatiness’ only made it into official dictionaries as recently as 2016 (thank you, Oxford English Dictionary, for being more culturally-inclusive!). In contrast, traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic knowledge, both among the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, have believed the need for balance between food and body types for centuries.


What does ‘Heaty’ Mean?

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that our bodies contain a combination of yin and yang energies. Yin is characterised as passive, female, sustaining, earthy, dark, and cool or cold, while yang is characterised as active, male, creative, heavenly, light, and warm or hot. Together, they form the concept of dualism, in which contrary forces are inter-connected, inter-related, and complementary to one another.

All of us embody yin and yang qi (energy) in our bodies. However, as humans, we experience and interact with multiple external factors every day that influences and sometimes disrupts the balance of our internal qi. Other times, we might naturally have more yin than yang, or more yang than yin, triggering an imbalance that can be corrected via external means such as eating the correct food.

When someone tells you that you’re heaty, they probably noticed that your face is red or acne-prone, or that your breath smells bad. They might say the same if you have a sore throat, ulcers in your mouth, or yellow urine. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners might point to heatiness as a potential cause of your heart disease or fever.


Is it the Same for Men and Women?

Yin qi is considered ‘female’ and yang qi is considered ‘male’, and yet both exist in both men and women. Don’t be confused - think of it yin and yang as attributes, and not actual sex-defining energies. Neither our sex nor gender dictates a monopoly on yin or yang qi. What’s more, the amount of yin and yang we have can fluctuate throughout the day, and we lose qi when we age!

To top it all off, the yin in women’s bodies fluctuate with every menstrual cycle, which means we have a high intrinsic concentration of yin during and directly after our periods, right up to ovulation, after which our yang qi starts to rise until the cycle repeats itself. Men, of course, do not menstruate, though their yin and yang still fluctuate due to external factors. Remember: yin and yang are attributes, not definitions of our physical identity.

In short, yes, men and women can both get heaty, and yes, the treatment for heatiness can be the same for both sexes, but no, it’s not exactly the same. So how can heatiness be treated?


What Causes Heatiness?

Before we consider treatments, we should first identify what causes heatiness in the first place. Our internal qi, as aforementioned, can be influenced by external factors such as the weather and the food we eat. If you’ve eaten too much hot, spicy, deep-fried foods, you’ve built up too much pyretic yang energy in your body, leaving you more susceptible to sore throat, dry mouth, skin allergies, constipation and fever. Spring and summer are yang seasons, with warmer days, so you absorb more yang energy from your surroundings then, too. This means that our hot and humid Malaysia is in perpetual yang season!

Although you can’t change Malaysia’s weather, you can adjust your food intake to keep your body’s qi in harmony.


Relieving Heatiness with Bird’s Nest

By itself, bird’s nest is a largely ‘neutral’ food that is neither yin nor yang. That is the reason bird’s nest can be prescribed for many different scenarios and is gentle on the body for people of all ages. Logically, you might think that a ‘neutral’ food might not sound that effective at reducing ‘heat’, and you’re right: it can work, but you might need something more aggressive to dampen heat. You need something colder. And do you know what’s the fun part about food? You get to mix and match!

Using neutral-energy bird’s nest as a base, you can add ingredients in any number of combinations to make it ‘colder’ and thus more effective at combating ‘heatiness’. Not only will you be able to reap the nutritional and beauty-related benefits of bird’s nest; you’ll also be able to rebalance your qi and achieve harmony between your yin and yang, too. Here are some recipes that can make bird’s nest more cooling to fight your heatiness:


Bird’s Nest with Barley & Red Dates

Barley is a common drink in Malaysia…did you know that it pairs well with bird’s nest drinks? Barley by itself is a cooling drink, and this grain can add a slightly sweet, richer texture to your bird’s nest, while making it more ‘cooling’.

What you need:

  • Additional ingredients
    • 1/8 cups of barley (pot, hulled, or pearl type)
    • 1.5 cups of water
  • Tools
    • Pot, bowl, shallow dish (for warming the bird’s nest drink)


  1. Wash barley several times, then soak for at least 6 to 8 hours.
  2. Drain the water. Pour 1.5 cups of fresh water into a pot.
  3. Cook until barley softens.
  4. Let barley cool then strain it. Pour `GeGe’s freshly-boiled bird’s nest drinks` into a bowl and add the desired amount of barley. Stir well and serve.
  5. Optional: Warm up `GeGe’s freshly-boiled bird’s nest drinks` beforehand by letting the closed bottle sit in a container of warm water for a few minutes.


Bird’s Nest with Chrysanthemum-Goji Berry Jelly

If you’re craving something more floral, give chrysanthemum a try. Upgrade it even more by making chrysanthemum jelly cubes so that you have something extra to chew. You can make them in batches to be savoured with your week’s supply of `GeGe’s bird’s nest drinks!`

What you need:

  • Additional ingredients
    • 1x handful of chrysanthemum flowers
    • 1x tablespoon of goji berries
    • 1x packet Konnyaku jelly or gelatin
    • Water (as required)
  • Tools
    • Pot, ice or jelly moulds


  1. Soak the goji berries in hot water for 15 minutes or until puffy. Strain and set aside.
  2. Rinse the chrysanthemum and add into boiling water. Lower heat and let them infuse in the water for approximately 5 minutes. Remove some of the flowers if less petals are desired in the jelly.
  3. Prepare the jelly powder or gelatin according to the instructions on the box or packet. Add into the chrysanthemum-infused water.
  4. Drop goji berries into each ice or jelly mould. Pour the chrysanthemum mixture into the moulds.
  5. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  6. Remove chrysanthemum-goji berry jellies as desired. Roughly dice the jelly and add into `GeGe’s freshly-boiled bird’s nest drink`. Serve.


Bird’s Nest with Aloe Vera Cubes

Now here’s an ingredient you might have growing in your garden, ready to be picked! The gel from the aloe vera leaf is a naturally cooling ingredient that may help purge toxins from your liver and relieve constipation. That’s one extra meridian covered, since bird’s nest covers the lung, stomach, and kidney meridians!

What you need:
  • Additional ingredients
    • 1x fresh aloe vera leaf at least 20cm long (these will be mature plants)
  • Tools
    • Knife or fruit peeler


  1. Keep the leaf vertical, with the cut end facing downwards, especially if there is a yellowish substance (aloe latex) still oozing from the cut. Use a pitcher of water to clean the leaf from top to bottom.
  2. Cut the leaf into several portions if desired for easier extraction. Repeat Step 1 if more aloe latex oozes out.
  3. Remove the spines on both sides of the leaf. Cut as close to the spines as possible to reduce loss of aloe vera gel.
  4. Lay the leaf flat on a cutting board. Carefully slice away the top and bottom green skin of the aloe vera leaf.
  5. Rinse 2-3 times to get rid of remaining aloe latex. Cut the gel into cubes as desired. Pour some into a bowl with a bottle of `GeGe’s freshly-boiled bird’s nest drinks`. Serve and store extra gel cubes in the refrigerator.


Enjoyed what you read? Why not find out more about the exact opposite matter: `how to use bird's nest to alleviate ‘coldness’?` Also, if you have any other delectable and cooling bird’s nest recipes you’d like to share, feel free to `leave a comment`!

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