healing ways

A Nourishing Nest

Edible Bird’s Nest Can Enhance Beauty from the Inside Out

By Nancy Conyers

While eating the saliva of a bird from southeast Asia may not be the first choice for a health and beauty treatment, it can fly up on the list of natural remedies to explore and try as people age. This is an ancient remedy from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which has always focused on curing the inside to reflect health and beauty on the outside. Achieving internal balance, or yin and yang, requires healing each body system to obtain maximum chi, or energy.

Edible bird’s nest (EBN), or Xueyan or Xueyanwo in Chinese, was brought into modern-day society by Chinese royalty. Not just any bird species provides the remedy, however. For centuries, the dried nest of the male swiftlet bird has been prized as a luxury cure-all in China.

According to a 2021 review of research published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, during breeding season, the male swiftlet’s saliva creates a half-bowl-shaped nest that sticks to the wall of a cave, 500 feet off the ground. The saliva, from the less valuable white colored to the most highly prized reddish color, contains powerful antiviral, antioxidant and anticancer properties that can boost metabolic rates and immune systems and rejuvenate the skin. Protein and carbohydrates are the main components of EBN, followed by the essential trace elements calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium and potassium. Nicknamed the “caviar of the East,” EBN is served as soup or processed into powders, pudding mix, capsules, tonics and drinks. It is priced at $1,000–$10,000 per kilogram.

Although expensive and exotic, research shows the TCM remedy EBN works from inside the body to exhibit results on the outside.

Nancy Conyers is a metro Detroit–based photographer and writer. To get in touch with her, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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