What Are The Benefits of Bird’s Nest? (Are There Side Effects?)

What are the benefits of bird’s nest soups and drinks that make them highly sought after?

Bird’s nest soup has been an part of Chinese culture for centuries. Today, we can easily find bottled bird’s nest drinks in the market.

The recipe is simple and usually just has additional ingredients like rock sugar or ginseng. So is bird’s nest actually good for your health?

Benefits Of Bird’s Nest

There are several reasons why bird’s nest is highly valued. And why people are willing to spend extravagantly for the best-quality bird’s nest.

Edible Bird's Nest
Edible Bird’s Nest – photo credits (asia.nikkei.com)

Here are some of the benefits of bird’s nest:

1. Better Skin Health And Texture

Bird’s nest is said to help you attain a clean, clear complexion with softer and brighter skin.

This is due to collagen content in bird’s nest. Which can enhance the texture and complexion of your skin.

Giving your skin a more youthful appearance!

2. Improved Lung Function

If you are a heavy smoker who has a dry cough with sputum, bird’s nest is believed to help reduce its severity.

It may also aid those with long-term cases of asthma and cough. As they may see improved lung function if they consume bird’s nest on a long-term basis.

3. As A Supplement During Pregnancy And Post-Delivery

It is a popular belief that bird’s nest is nourishing and packed with nutrients. Which makes it good for pregnancy.

Edible Bird's Nest
Edible Bird’s Nest – photo credits (Vietcetera)

However, its effects are limited:

Professor Lee (from the School of Physical & Mathematical Sciences and the Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies, NTU) shared a finding by Dr Wang (dating back to 1921).

Apparently, Dr Wang discovered that edible bird’s nest (*1). This is an essential amino acid present in vegetables and meat.

Because of this, bird’s nest might not be as nutritious as commonly believed. Although it does have sialic acid. Which can help with the development of a baby’s brain while in the womb.

Something which this other article (*2) (Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2018) seems to support:

It states that the consumption of bird’s nest during pregnancy can boost the baby’s memory and learning abilities.

And since bird’s nest contains Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) for cell regeneration and collagen (as many bird’s nest sellers would have you believe), it may help reduce stretch marks post-delivery.

4. Improved Immunity And Brain Function

If you are constantly feeling under the weather:

Consuming bird’s nest may help you. Bird’s nest is shown in a handful of studies to have antiviral and antioxidant properties (*3).

Bird Nest Soup
Bird Nest Soup – photo credits to Borneo Rainforest Herbs

Edible Bird Nest (EBN) may help with the following:

  • Obesity-related stress on the heart and body
  • Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s’ disease – Both of which affect the brain!
  • Photo-aging (*4) – Which is premature aging of the skin due to consistent exposure to UV-rays

Other Things To Note:

These benefits are only reported by people who consume edible bird’s nest regularly and continuously.

5. Increased Vitality

Aside from prescribing bird’s nest soup to supplement the health his patients with diabetes or high blood pressure:

Doctor Hien Duc Pham, OMD (*5) (who practices Chinese medicine in Colarado) notes that edible bird’s nest can restore some energy to patients undergoing chemotheraphy.

As well as revive the libido of women post-menopause!

Or erectile disfunction in men as this study suggests (*6).

So there may be something to all those claims from bird nest distributors and sellers!

What About The Benefits Of Bird’s Nest Drinks?

In drugstores around Malaysia, you can find bird’s nest drinks in pre-packaged convenient small bottles.

Some brands add extra collagen from fish or seaweed sources (i.e. marine sources)

Bird Nest Soup
Bird Nest Soup – photo credits to Steamy Kitchen

There may be different flavors like white fungus, ginseng, honey and most commonly, rock sugar. Lychee and goji berries are also occasionally included by certain brands.

Because bird’s nest is supposedly the ‘main ingredient’, these drinks are said to have all the similar benefits mentioned above too.

Bird’s Nest Side Effects

Bird’s nest is generally safe. Just watch the sugar content!

And a possible adverse effect is an allergic reaction.

This can involve hives, difficulty breathing and throat tightness, or swelling of the face (*7). Seek medical attention immediately if this occurs.

It is always best to consult your doctor or pharmacist before consuming bird’s nest.

Especially so if you are currently on any medication. Or have any existing medical conditions.

Conclusion

There are many potential benefits of bird’s nest. Although these have yet to be confirmed by rigorous studies. 

In any case, the Chinese (like Admiral Zheng He in the 14-15th century) have been taking bird’s nest soup for centuries now! 

As long as you take the necessary precautions, there seems to be little harm (for the birds or you) in taking this natural supplement! Maybe just on your wallet!

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Jasmine Chiam

A student in the Pharmacy field. Loves writing and wanted to do something related to medicine but did not personally want to be a doctor. Her passion for writing sparked again and somehow drew her towards content writing. An avid gamer and music-lover who is crazy about salmon and sushi. Dreams to visit Japan one day (for the salmon), hopefully with her own hard-earned money. Linkedin.