On a recent trip to Los Angeles Chinatown, Robert and Karen purchased Yan Wo (燕窝), one of the most exotic and precious herbal medicinals in the Chinese Materia Medica. Yan Wo, also called "bird's nest," is a very strong tonic and such a pervasive part of Chinese culture that the Beijing National Stadium was built to look like it.
The nests are made from the nutrient-rich saliva of swiftlets, which build their nests on high ocean cliffs. The difficulty of harvesting the nests and the amazing restorative properties of the enzymes in the saliva make Yan Wo quite expensive - it is sometimes referred to as "the caviar of the East."
(Isn't Russia in the East...?)
Why do the Chinese pay top-dollar for birds nest? Well, traditional claims and modern research show that it increases vitality, aids digestion, restores sex drive, strengthens immunity, prevents stroke, attacks cancer cells, restores respiratory function, sbenefit pregnant mothers, facilitates normal body function, and repairs damaged tissues. That's a pretty impressive list, but Yan Wo is most popularly used for its uncanny ability to revitalize and repair the cells and tissues of the face. Wealthy Chinese women (and men) drink soup made from birds next to retain and restore their youthful appearance, firming and brightening the skin.
From a strictly Chinese medicine prospective, Yan Wo is characteristically sweet in flavor, which is typical of Qi and Blood tonifying medicinals; it's also warm in flavor, which allows it to rise up and promote circulate in the head and face. It enters the Lung, Spleen, Kidney, and Stomach Meridians. The first three are the organs primarily associated with vitality as they are the systems which store Essence and generate Qi. The Stomach meridian is also called the Foot Yang Ming Meridian, and it is the Yang Ming Meridians which are more abundant in Qi and Blood. The Stomach Meridian in particular starts just below the eye and descends around the mouth and jawline before plunging down the neck, so it's pathway makes it an ideal channel to tonify in order to restore facial vitality.
Cooking the bird's nest is an all-day process. There are numerous recipes, and at Meridian we add Gou Qi Zi (Goji Berries) and Long Yan Rou (Longan Fruit) to strengthen it's restorative function. Both Gou Qi Zi and Long Yan Rou are typically included in formulas we give to our Facial Rejuvenation clients due to their ability to restore facial cells and tissues. The bird's nest, however, really represents our most powerful herbal tool for Facial Rejuvenation. An order of our Yan Wo soup will run you $80.00, and it's generally taken all at one time once a week.