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Soap beans, silver ears and peach gum

By Pauline D. Loh | China Daily | Updated: 2013-01-28 10:17

Soap beans, silver ears and peach gum

Peach gum [Photo by Pauline D. Loh/China Daily]

Many Chinese tonic recipes come from ancient medical texts that are thousands of years old. Now, modern science is discovering TCM sages really knew what they were talking about. Pauline D. Loh shares some beauty tonics that will firm your skin and brighten your eyes.

Forget about double-boiling bird's nest for that collagen fix. The eco-friendly, economically viable option is to seek out soap nuts, white fungus and peach gum for a beauty regime that starts inside out. When we were younger, and the Chinese world was still relatively undisturbed by too much wealth, our grandmothers and mothers fed us hashima and bird's nest rarely but regularly, convinced they were investments toward clear, bright, unblemished skins.

Bird's nest, the pods of dehydrated mucus from the tropical cave swift used for nest-building, and hashima, the ovarian tissues of a frog species found in the tundra of China's Northeastern Heilongjiang province, are both exotic foods with exorbitant prize tags.

Increased demand has threatened the animals' existence, and as consumer conscience gradually overpowers vanity, more eco-friendly beauty supplements have surfaced.

It cannot be denied that the rapid expansion of online marketing and sales has contributed to the spread of these previously localized products, but we should just count our blessings, shall we?

There are three all-natural products that the Chinese believe are good for you if they are taken regularly as tonics, and they are just as exotic as their animal cousins.

Soap beans, silver ears and peach gum

Soap beans, silver ears and peach gum

Cured meats and crusty claypot rice 

Calm the soul, clear the broth 

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