In the article "Yan Wo Kao" (The investigation on bird's nest) in Monthly Mingpao Vol.231,
Prof. Y.C. Kong and Prof. P.S. Kwan (1985) mentioned that in China the consumption of the
bird's nest was first documented in the ancient Chinese literature "Hai Yu" (The language of the sea) (Huang, 1536) in the Ming Dynasty. In "Ming Zhong Hai Cuo Shu", Tu (1596) stated that the bird's nest is the food of the rich.
However, the medicinal value of the bird's nest was only confirmed by several scholars about hundred years later after a long history of consumption and testing and has been promoted to be a nourishing and replenishing medicine with specific therapeutic effects. The literature of "Ben Cao Bei Yao" (The essential notes of materia medica) (Wang, 1694) and "Ben Cao Feng Yuan" (The medicinal herbs in the wild) (Zhang, 1695) of the Qing dynasty show evidence that the ancient Chinese had belief that the bird's nests did have some therapeutic effects and were used to cure disease. In the years 1757 to 1871, many scholars and experts had discussed in their literatures in details the transformation of the bird's nest from an expensive food to a precious medicine.
Prof. Kong further indicated that, according to Chinese literature, the bird's nest does have
obvious healing effects to poststage tuberculosis, gastric ulcers and bleeding of the lung.
Beside, it can promote growth.
The bird's nest also can replenish strength and vital energy, accelerate the recovery from
disease /illness, and reinforce immunity.
The specific animal proteins in an edible bird's nest have the following three functions :
1. To stimulate the regeneration of cells.
2. To enhance cell-mediated immunity.
3. To enhance the resistance of an individual to X-irradiated damage.