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Fish Maw: A Gift from the East that Every Englishman should Love More than Gold

Fish Maw: A Gift from the East that Every Englishman should Love More than Gold

Fish maw is one delicious reminder that not all good things come out from the land that allows us to walk the Earth; they are also teeming in the waters  —  specifically, the ocean. And if you take a closer look into the essence of the dried fish bladder, you’ll realize how amazing its health benefits are. One that should be a treasure trove for every Englishman on the planet, perhaps even more than gold. 

OrientalTeaBox Fish Maw

To a large degree, gold became a catalyst that expedited the formation of European empires. It was this driving desire that moved European powers centuries ago to establish an alternative route to Asia which forced them to set sail around the world starting the 15th century. As Ottoman Turks rose to power, the Silk Road connected Europe to Asian goods (e.g., silk, spices, pottery) for centuries were choked.

And the British empire, which caught the global domination bug a bit later than Spain and Portugal, was no exemption. As it sought gold and glory, the empire transformed into the largest empire that the world has ever seen. In the process, it became the “Empire where the sun never sets” covering about 458 million people in 1938: over a fourth of the planet’s population. 

But while gold may be a most sought-after find in its conquests, the British empire brought to its shores more valuable treasures from the East. We’re talking about a paradigm shift that gave Englishmen all over the planet healthier lives. And fish maw is atop that list. Read on. 


How the East Brought Greater Health to the West

If you look closer at the world map you’ll see that Europe and Asia is one big continent. Although we have been taught early in school that they are two separate continents, maps will show they are connected via Turkey. The country bridges the two geographical locations. 


Of course, we have come to accept them as separate continents due mainly to political divisions. Added to this are the differences in geographical features, weather patterns and human populations. Today, Europe is the continent most of which is located in the Northern Hemisphere, while Asia is most of which is located in the Southern Hemisphere.


It was through the Silk Road, a series of routes that stretches for thousands of miles, that brought goods to and fro China and other Asian countries and Europe. Though it was formally opened during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.), the routes existed long before that — some 300 years as established by Persian ruler Darius I. 


For one, the legendary Venetial explorer Marco Polo (1254-1324) used the Silk Road to travel from Italy to China, which was then under the control of the Mongolian Empire, where they arrived in 1275. And to go back. 


Thus, it’s easy to understand why European powers decided to take an alternative route to Asia, one via the ocean. As the Ottoman Turks overcome Constantinople in 1453 (and change the capital of the Byzantine Empire into Istanbul), the Silk Road was pinched, levied higher taxes that made goods a lot more expensive. 


Indeed, the closure of trade via the Silk Road led to the Age of Discovery (15th century to 17th century) which led European powers to explore the globe at an unprecedented level. 


But not before goods were exchanged for centuries. The top product from these routes was silk, as the Romans and the Greeks valued the smooth textile, calling China “Seres”, which mean the “land of silk”. 

 Table of Goods that Flowed through the Silk Road

Table 1: Goods that Flowed through the Silk Road


In short, massive trade happened for centuries. With this trade came the exchange of culture and of knowledge. That should include new Eastern medical knowledge, something that was distinct from Western medicine bringing about a monumental paradigm shift. 


Western medicine focuses on diagnosing and treating a disease or illness based on a patient’s symptoms. On the other hand, Eastern medicine considers both patient’s symptoms and an individualized diagnosis of a patient’s Qi (or chi). Qi has been referred to as a “vital life force.”


Diagnostic procedures could involve checking the pulse and tongue. Traditional medicine practised in Asia, mainly in China, utilises complex patterns that show imbalance to determine a diagnosis. The goal is to restore a patient’s Qi, thereby encouraging health and healing.


It’s a totally different approach. But though many are still critical of Eastern medicine (referring to it as quack), it has produced wonders in the West. Today, Oriental practices have been known as alternative medicine and have been integrated into Western medicine. Below are some of these practices and how they impacted the West: 



Traditional Chinese medicine is based on decades upon decades of experience. Hundreds of years ago, they found that needle insertion into key areas of the body can influence various functions of it.  And they explained it by the theory that was acceptable at that time.


In its earliest form, acupuncture was mentioned in a Chinese bookThe Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine dating from about 100 BC. There the concept of channels or meridians in which Qi flowed is discussed and how Taoist philosophy encouraged the therapeutic technique.  


To date, acupuncture has become more and more popular and is one of the most widely practised healing methods. During the past 40 years, it has evolved into one of the most utilised forms of complementary integrative medicine. Over 10 million acupuncture treatments are administered annually in the United States. The adoption of this Oriental medicine has been spurred by its effective relief of pain (e.g., labour pain, osteoarthritis, neck pain, chemotherapy-induced pain) and many scientific studies are pointing to its efficacy. 


In the UK, thousands of acupuncturists have flourished with the British Acupuncture Council created to regulate the practice. 



Another traditionally Eastern practice that has been incorporated into Western medicine is yoga. Its roots can be traced to ancient India to as far as hundreds of years BC. The word itself comes from Sanskrit and is derived from the root word yuj which means “to attach harness or yoke”.


The unique postures with breathing control are closely related to the ascetic practices in the Vedic tradition. The religious root of yoga is evident in how many spiritual leaders in the country practice it. But yoga has been widely absorbed by the West and its many benefits that helped people suffering from mental issues have been highly explored. 


Yoga is the biggest cultural gift India gave to the world. In a way, it conquered the world without India firing a single shot. Today, millions of people worldwide roll out their mats to yoga sessions with over 500,000 British people practising it weekly. Most importantly, yoga not only has become a way to attain mental health in the face of challenges but has also become proven therapy for mental illness. 



The infusion made from the dried leaves of the Camella Sinensis plant never originated in England but since 1664 when the drink was introduced, the British people have never set their sight off it. Today, you can call it a national pastime with 84% of the nation’s population drinking it daily, amounting to about 100 million cups daily or almost 36 billion cups year in year out. 


The good news is the nootropic drink brings a lot of health benefits — all thanks to its rich resource of antioxidants and phytonutrients. So much, that Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, call the drink the “elixir of life”. Then again, the ability to restore Qi is one of the most sought attributes of tea. Today, about 3.7 billion cups of tea are consumed daily making it the #1 drink in the world (next to water). That’s how amazing this Oriental drink from China is.  


Qi and Fish Maw: A Paradigm Shift to Benefit Every Englishman

You’ll soon find out that fish maw’s popularity in the Orient is based largely on its ability to be a source of Qi and restore balance. Qi, if you noticed, is right at the centre of Oriental healing. But truth be told, the concept of Qi (or more popularly known as chi in the Western Hemisphere) is a strange idea for many in the technologically-advanced world. And you may have to do a paradigm shift to understand fish maw and benefit from it.


At its essence, qi is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living entity. Literally, it means “vapour”, “air”, or “breath” and has often been translated as "vital energy", "vital force", "material energy", or simply as "energy". If you take a closer look, Qi is central not only to Chinese traditional medicine but also to Chinese martial arts. 


Take acupuncture for instance. The goal of the insertion of the pins is to move around an individual’s stuck qi and in doing so, balance the body's overall energy. Thus, if you have physical pain as a result of stuck or deficient qi  (e.g, migraine headaches, low back pain, or osteoarthritis, acupuncture has been found increasingly effective. 


An expert on acupuncture and Chinese medicine, Dr Jill Blakeway, describes qi as the “vital energy” that guides someone’s physical and mental processes. Many cultures have a name for it: Indians calls it prana; Greeks call it pneuma. 

“Chinese philosophy calls this vital energy qi and describes it as the body’s innate intelligence — the intangible yet measurable way we maintain what’s known as homeostasis, or the body’s ability to regulate its internal environment to create good health.” 

Dr Jill Blakeway, Chinese acupuncture expert


And this goes also for fish maw. Appearing usually light white in colour, and having a spongy texture, the dried swim bladders of large fishes (e.g., sturgeon, croaker) promote qi. Know swim bladders are not the stomach of the fish. Specifically, it’s the organ in the belly of the fish that helps these marine animals to stay afloat. 


It’s no accident, fish maw as a delicacy has been considered as top food by the Chinese due to its ability to restore qi energy. In fact, Asian culture considers fish maw as one of the top four delicacies of the sea (abalone, sea cucumber, shark fin, and fish maw). 


Right off the bat, putting fish maw as part and parcel of your diet can be a wise decision. In terms of taste, dried fish maw may not strike you as worth your time. Know it can be tasteless (which make it a good complementary addition to many dishes since it can absorb the flavours of other ingredients it is cooked with). 


But its heath benefits can be tremendous. Here are three reasons how it can benefit you and every Englishman on the planet today: 


To Restore Your Qi

Fish maw’s ability to restore qi could be its greatest asset as a delicacy. Being able to maintain a healthy qi is vital as it can lead you to better protection against the onslaught of disease. 


When you have enough qi, you have a greater chance of fighting diseases. Thus, someone with ample qi will appear pleasant, outwardly healthy with lots of energy. Your body can resist the attacks of a virus. In short, you are a well-oiled machine that won’t buckle with little pressure. You feel energized. 


People who lack qi will most likely feel fatigued as though some of their body’s systems aren’t working as they should be.  They’re short-breathed in a sense. That could translate to anything from difficulty digesting food to having no appetite. Also, you could catch colds easily making you easily succumb to allergies and depression. 


Take note that a qi deficiency can also be emotional. For example, being frightened can scatter qi, and being angry can stagnate it. 


Think about it. You could equate qi with your body’s resilience. When the virus hit England, people who were obese or those with excess weight have a greater risk of COVID-19 severe illness and death. This finding has been confirmed by a recent Public Health England (PHE) report. 


  • 162,000 people have died of COVID-19 complications in the UK. 


As expected, people who have comorbidities had the least resistance and would succumb to the disease faster. For this reason, the UK government’s vaccine campaigns were targeted at this population. And that includes people who are overweight. They were called first priorities. 


Specifically, fish maw is advisable for people with qi deficiency in the spleen or the stomach. For this purpose, you can also choose to mix fish maw together with herbs such as ginseng, astragalus and Codonopsis Root (Dang Shen). By consuming such a herbal formulation that includes these herbs, you can help to nourish your qi back to life. And invigorate the spleen in the process. 


To Make You Look Good 

Fish maw is a rich source of collagen. As such, the delicacy can help you maintain needed skin elasticity and firmness as you age. The Compendium of Materia Medica or Bencao Gangmu written by Li Shizhen, a renowned Chinese physician during the Ming dynasty confirmed this. The book, itself is a prodigious collection of research that took 27 years to finish. It’s widely considered the most comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional medicine. 


Note that collagen is essential for your growth. To boot, the protein ensures the health of your hair, skin, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. But as we age, our body’s ability to produce collagen slows down. At the age of 30, our collagen production is largely depleted. 


Worse, women can be drastically affected by dwindling collagen production. A woman may lose up to 30% of collagen once she reaches menopause. Plus, these fibres can weaken over time as they accumulate damage. The result is collagen’s function can be eroded over time. When that happens, the symptoms of skin ageing follows. 


As a consequence, low collagen levels in the body or damage to its collagen fibres can weaken the skin’s structural support. Eventually, the skin will lose its firmness and volume and wrinkle starts to appear. 


But fish maw can play a huge role in slowing down the effects of ageing. Not only is the delicacy rich in collagen, but also it contains glycosaminoglycans (previously known as mucopolysaccharides) which are also important for supporting the healthy growth of one’s skin, bones, cartilages, corneas, tendons and connective tissues. 


As it’s a good source of collagen, proteins, and nutrients, the more you consumer fish maw, the more you introduce anti-ageing nutrients to your skin. Take note that collagen provides a wide variety of skin benefits, such as helping to improve your skin tone, and tissue health. To add to that, it’s one traditional delicacy regarded by the East as representing fortune and health.

To Help You Heal

Western medicine thinks of a cure; Eastern medicine thinks of an imbalance. Western medicine was largely based on the principles established a long time ago by the Ancient Greeks. Small wonder, Hippocrates of Kos (c. 460 – c. 370 BC), a Greek physician is widely considered as the Father of Medicine (Western medicine) and physicians today must abide by the Hippocratic Oath. All this is based on an evidence-based diagnosis of health. 


In contrast, Eastern medicine focuses on treating the whole person and not just a particular symptom. The key to this is the concept of balance. And balance can be better understood when referred to as Yin and Yang.  While both are manifestations of Qi energy, yin is the material aspect while yang is the immaterial aspect. So, solid material such as rock (yin) can contain energetic vibration (yang). Think of this as Einstein’s Theory of light (yang) as having mass (yin). 


So one must maintain such Yin-Yang balance in the body to have an abundance of qi and be in top shape. And this is where it gets really interesting for fish maw aficionados and for every Englishman on the planet. 


The consumption of fish maw is beneficial to help nourish the body’s yin. In doing so, the delicacy helps alleviate gastrointestinal disorders or disorders of the digestive system. Some of these complications are: 


  • Gastritis 
  • Peptic ulcers 
  • Stomach pain


Such an advantage has been attributed to the sticky nature of fish maw after boiling. Specifically, it acts as a protective barrier by adhering to the surface of gastric mucosa after it enters the stomach. 


Moreover, fish maw effectively inhibits hematemesis or the vomiting of blood. This is due largely to the occurrence of gastric erosion or a peptic ulcer disease.


What’s more, fish maw can nourish kidney essence (yang), which supports the spontaneous production of liver blood. To note,  the liver and kidney systems are interrelated to one another. Hence, fish maw consumption can be a great relief for muscle twitches and spasms, not to mention tremors caused by kidney and liver deficiencies.




Again, its easy to look at the disease and not examine the person as a whole. Each disease is complex and must therefore be looked at independently without biases. 


If you are prone to indigestion or have a weak stomach, you should take precautions and refrain from consuming inordinate amounts of fish maw. That should be true for people with seafood allergies. They should also limit their intake of this delicacy.


To Wrap Things Up

When acupuncture was first introduced to the West, it met a lot of resistance. It’s unthinkable for many Western physicians to use such “unproven” Eastern techniques. But they were massively used for centuries in China. During the 14th and 16th centuries, the practice flourished with The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion showing everyone the 365 points through which needles can be inserted to modify the flow of Qi energy. 


Today, acupuncture is practised by millions of Englishmen and Westerners alike. It has come to be accepted as Complementary Medicine uniting the traditional Eastern practice to Western medicine. The adoption of rheumatology is but a testament to the many people who have witnessed pain relief using the technique.


The same holds true for fish maw. Its ability to promote Qi energy should make it a logical choice for many. Indeed, the dried fish bladder is a great gift from the East. Add ts many health and beauty benefits to the equation and the delicacy should be one mouth-watering option for millions of Englishmen on the planet even more than gold. Then again, the next best thing to do is to grab ocean fish maw at its freshest.

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