Sea cucumber is a type of seafood. In China, it is considered a delicacy and is often eaten at important family celebrations or for older weakened people, as it is very expensive. In Chinese diet therapy culture sea cucumber is regarded to be especially beneficial for the kidneys as it nourishes them. Kidney health is known as the basis of human life and well being.
1. Why are kidneys important (what is kidney deficiency?)
Kidneys store the original essence, or Qi, from our parents. This Qi, or essence, can have a strong impact on our whole life. Kidneys dominate growth and reproduction and are the origin of energy of all other organs. If kidney Qi (or functioning) is impaired, it may cause the following symptoms, such as lack of energy, decreased libido, impotence, menopause lower back and knee pain, frequent urination day and night, poor memory, early onset of dementia and ankle puffiness may occur. Women can experience irregular periods, early menopause, infertility and frequent miscarriage. They may also find the development of ovaries or uterus affected and this may decrease both the size and function of these organs. Men may experience impotence, reduced sperm quality and affects infertility.
Thus, weakened kidneys can cause many problems in our body, it is necessary to keep the kidneys in good condition.
After birth, the kidneys restore the essence by obtaining nutrients from the food that we eat. If you have the symptoms mentioned above or to maintain the performance of the kidneys, you can eat sea cucumber regularly to improve your kidney health whilst you are undergoing treatment. This is why sea cucumber is very popular.
2. Health effects of sea cucumber
i) Help to strengthens the kidney function as TCM and improves sexual function
Sea cucumbers have warming characteristics and taste a little salty and work primarily on the kidney channels. The ancient Chinese medicine book ‘Ben Cao Cong Xin’ states that they strengthen kidney essence, yang and improves sexual function. If you have the symptoms associated with kidney deficiency such as lowered libido and impotence you can eat sea cucumber regularly. I suggest eating stir fried sea cucumber with dried shrimp. Please see the recipe below.
ii) Help to balance period, prevent miscarriage and maintain early stage pregnancy
A traditional diet therapy book ‘Sui Xi Ju Yin Shi Pu’ advises that sea cucumbers can balance periods, reduce the occurrence of miscarriages and are good for reducing tiredness and lower back pain during the earlier stages of pregnancy.
iii) Benefitting the skin
Sea cucumbers also strengthen the blood and moisturize the body and skin. They can reduce recovery time for people with constipation, weak blood, dry skin, older people and those after long labour, illness or a big operation. I recommend eating sea cucumber and goji berry porridge. Please see the recipe below.
i) Stir fried sea cucumber and dried shrimp
1 10cm long sea cucumber – clear inside and chop into small pieces
1 tblsp dried shrimp
1 tblsp chopped spring onion
3 tsp olive oil
Stir fry all ingredients with oil on a low heat for 10 minutes. You can add a little amount of water to prevent the ingredients from drying out. It is now ready to eat.
Effects: Strengthens and tonifies kidneys; improves energy; improves sexual function.
ii) sea cucumber and goji berry porridge
1 small handful of rice
1 5cm long sea cucumber – clear inside and chopped
1 tblsp goji berries
1 tblsp chopped spring onions
3 cups of water
Boil the rice in the water until soft on a low heat. Add sea cucumber and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add spring onions, goji berries, salt or sweet soya sauce for taste. It is now ready to eat.
Effects: This is a very health meal, which can be eaten for breakfast. It is beneficial for liver and kidneys; anti-aging; improves skin condition.
i) If you have a cold, diarrhea or infection it is best to avoid eating sea cucumber.
ii) If you are unsure whether you should eat sea cucumber please advise your experienced TCM practitioner.