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Edible bird’s nest: Food or medicine?


Edible bird’s nest (EBN) is derived from the saliva of certain types of swiflets. It is consumed in many parts of the world for its nutritional and medicinal values. Although many claims have been made on the therapeutic and health-promoting effects of EBN, scientific documentations regarding these effects are very limited in published literature. It is not until recently that the biological effects of EBN are being investigated and evidence-based studies are being conducted. Several studies have found that EBN may enhance cell proliferation and differentiation and various beneficial effects have been reported in vitro as well as in vivo. While these studies point towards the potential use of EBN in the treatment or even prevention of several diseases, the mechanisms of action of EBN remain largely unknown and more explorations are needed. This review is one of the very few scientific reviews on EBN which focuses on recent evidence-based discoveries.

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Correspondence to Rebecca S. Y. Wong.

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Wong, R.S.Y. Edible bird’s nest: Food or medicine?. Chin. J. Integr. Med. 19, 643–649 (2013).

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  • edible bird’s nest
  • nutritional values
  • composition
  • potential health-promoting effects