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The TCM benefits of eating chicken

According to traditional Chinese medicine practitioners almost every part of the chicken has health benefits

Chicken soup with ginseng
BBQ Chicken liver, heart, and Pork (Image by flickr user Leslie)

Chicken soup with ginseng (Wikimedia Commons photo)

BBQ Chicken liver, heart, and Pork (Image by flickr user Leslie)

Taipei (Taiwan News) -- As the Year of the Rooster has begun, chicken has become an even more popular item on the menu, and according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory, many parts of the bird have benefits to the human body.

Hong Kong-based physician Roy Tsui (徐澤昌), told Apple Daily that chicken meat from a Chinese medicinal perspective is "sweet and warm" in nature and is good for the spleen, stomach, liver and helps treat anemia and poor appetite.


The inner wall of the gizzard can be peeled out and is called "internal chicken gold," and when used in Chinese medicine, it can help eliminate stagnation of Qi and blood in the body and can also tonify the kidneys.


Chicken liver can nourish the kidneys, treat impotence, and alleviate liver blood deficiency.


Eggs are rich in protein and when used as a medicine they can calm the nerves. Rubbing egg whites on the eyelids can relieve eye swelling and pain. Eggs can also be used in medicine to cure coughs, asthma, and chest congestion. Eating egg yolks can help women regain strength after childbirth.


According to the Compendium of Materia Medica (本草綱目), chicken blood tastes salty and is non-toxic. In ancient times, children would drink raw chicken blood to soothe the nerves and aid in sleeping, but it is not advisable to try this method. Cooked animal blood in general is believed to help clean the blood vessels and provide skin with a flushed glow.


Broths made from chicken bones include calcium, potassium, magnesium, and the marrow of the fowl. It is believed in Chinese medicine that the bone marrow released in chicken broth helps replenish kidney jing (energy essence). Having strong kidney jing is considered important for the immune system, brain function, fertility, mental well-being, and is vital for life itself.


In many cases of Chinese medicine it is thought that "you are what you eat," therefore eating chicken hearts is considered good for various cardiac functions and helps to calm the nerves.

Chicken liver, heart and Pork belly on skewers

Chicken feet

Also known as "phoenix claws" in Chinese cuisine, chicken feet have been shown to be high in collagen according to a study by the Department of Animal Science of National Chung-Hsing University in Taiwan. Collagen is important for healthy skin, blood circulation, joints, bones and digestion.

Chicken head

Like other parts of the body, the head of the chicken is thought to tonify the liver and kidney. It can also be used to treat rashes and sores. To maximize its healing properties it can be taken with wine or served as a porridge.

In China's Hubei Province during the Lunar New Year people eat chicken feet to "grab New Year money," chicken wings to "spread their wings and fly high," and the head of the chicken to symbolize "getting ahead" that year. However, in Hong Kong it is considered bad luck to eat a chicken head during the Lunar New Year because it could cause someone to get axed from their job in the coming year.

Chicken meat

Although chicken is delicious and nutritious, if you have a fever or cold, TCM practitioners recommend not eating too much of the meat.

Based on the Taoist theory of yin and yang, the meat of the rooster is considered yang in nature and better for young and middle aged mean because it supplements vacuity. Hen meat, on the other hand, is thought to be yin in nature and should be eaten by the elderly, women, and women who are in the process of labor because it supplements weakness.

It is believed that black chicken, known in the West as the Silkie, is the most nutritious, and a recent study found that particular breed of chicken to have twice the amount of the antioxidant carnosine than regular chicken.