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Wild Ginger Plant (Xi Xin)

xi-xinMedically Chinese wild ginger plant, also known as Xi Xin in Pinyin or Herba Asari in pharmaceutical Latin, is a rather controversial Chinese herb. Some, including very famous TCM doctors, think it is non-toxic and can be used in large dose, but others see things differently and believe that it shouldn’t be used more than 1 Qian, an old unit of weight that is equal to 5 grams. In spite of this, it cannot be denied that this is a good herb of expelling pathogenic cold, expelling wind to alleviate pain, and harmonizing seven orifices. But the mentioned is just come of its common medicinal properties. So, what is the wild ginger plant used for? If you want to know more about its medicinal uses, it is a good idea to look at it from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine.

What is wild ginger plant?

Medicinally it mainly refers to the whole dried plant of Asian wild ginger plant, especially Asarum heterotropoides Fr. Schmidt var.mandshuricum (Maxim.) Kitag., Asarum sieboldii Miq. Var. Seoulense Nakai, or Asarum sieboldii Miq. The first two is commonly known as “Liao Xi Xin”, produced mainly in the Northeast, while the third as “Hua Xi Xin” produced primarily in provinces of Shaanxi, Henan, Shandong and Zhejiang. The best harvesting time is autumn or the fruit ripening stage in summer. And the following steps are to remove the dirt, dry in the shade, cut into sections, and use it in the raw form.

Here are some Asarum facts you might be interested in. This is a genus in Aristolochiaceae. It is native to Asia, in particular, Vietnam, Japan, and China. But now is can be discovered also in North America and Europe. The plants in Asarum are characterized by slightly red or brown flowers, creeping underground roots, and kidney-shaped leaves. However, all of this doesn’t explain why it is known as “wild ginger.” Actually, this name comes from its ginger-like smell and taste, instead of from being related. Because of that, it is often put in food to give flavor, just like ginger root.

It contains volatile oil, which mainly includes methyl eugenol, asarone, safrole and other ingredients. In addition, it still contains N-isobutyldodecatetraenamide, higenamine, sitosterol, stigmasterol and so on.

Wild ginger health benefits

As mentioned above, it refers to a few species in birthwort family. Clinically it is commonly used as diuretic and a drug for relieving exterior disorder. Its Chinese name can be literally translated as “small pungent” since it has small root and strong aroma, and pungent taste. It will definitely leave you a lifetime impression if you ever experience its hot and scurrying flavor. It is such a good medicine that can expel wind-cold externally while getting rid of the stagnation of yin-cold internally. Meanwhile, it can relieve pain and prevent cough. Though it is with good cold-expelling property, it is not generally used as the main drug in normal superficies-relieving formulas since it has a weak sweating function.

Up to now it has more than 2,000 years of history of using as medicine. And the earliest extant record is from the “Sheng Nong’s herbal classic.” However, it is the “The Shang Han Lun” (On Cold Damage) that later found and achieved its full potential to treat wind-cold exterior pattern, all kinds of pain, various blocked orifices, cough and asthma due to pulmonary cold, and the like. Today, its therapeutic range has been greatly extended and it is widely used in the treatment of recurrent oral ulcers, impotence, aphasia caused by stroke, bradycardia, epilepsy, Meniere’s disease, anejaculation, testicular pain, female infertility, urticaria, and more. In addition, it is often used for dental anesthesia too.

Asarum, Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi), and Ephedra (Ma Huang) are the 3 main herbs used for cold due to wind-cold since they relieve superficies syndrome with their pungent and warm nature. However, ephedra prefers severe wind-cold cold since it is with a stronger ability of sweating; cinnamon twig has such a more moderate sweating and superficies-relieving action that it can be used in all wind-cold, in particular the exterior deficiency accompanied with sweating; Asarum has a stronger cold-dispelling effect although it does a bad job on sweating.

Modern pharmacological actions of Asarum

1) Its volatile oil, water and alcohol extract are antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and anticonvulsant. And they are used as local anaesthetic too;

2) Large doses of its volatile oil can excite and then suppress the central nervous system, showing some toxic and side effect;

3) In vitro tests show that it inhibits hemolytic streptococcus, Shigella and aflatoxin;

4) The alcohol infusion of Asarum sieboldii Miq. can resist morphine-induced respiratory depression. The higenamine contained can strengthen the heart, dilate blood vessels, relax smooth muscle, enhance lipid metabolism, elevate blood sugar, and so on;

5) The safrole contained is a toxic carcinogen, which can be easily damaged by high heat.

Sample Asarum recipes on herbal remedies

The Chinese Pharmacopoeia believes that Asarum is acrid in flavor and warm in nature. It goes to meridians of heart, lung, and kidney. Basic functions are expelling wind, removing cold, freeing orifice to relieve pain, and warming lung to transform retained fluid. Primary wild ginger plant uses include cold due to pathogenic wind-cold, headache, toothache, stuffy nose, acute and chronic sinusitis, rheumatic pain, cough or asthma caused by phlegm. Recommended dosage is from 1 to 3 grams in powder or decoction.

1) Xi Xin San from Pu Ji Fang (Prescriptions of Universal Relief). It is combined with Chuan Xiong (lovage), Fu Zi (aconite), Ephedra, etc. to treat wind-cold headache;

2) Zhi Ling San from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It is coupled with Xiong Huang (realgar) to cure migraine;

3) Xiao Qing Long Tang from “The On Cold Damage.” It works with Ephedra, Shao Yao (Peony Root), Gan Jiang (Dried Ginger Root), Gan Cao (Licorice Root), etc. to heal chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, and the like;

4) Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang from Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Coffer). It is formulated with Fu Ling (Poria), licorice root, dried ginger, and Wu Wei Zi (Schisandra Seed) to treat chronic bronchitis and emphysema that are caused by cold fluid retention in lung and characterized by coughing out thin, clear sputum;

5) Ma Huang Fu Zi Xi Xin Tang from “The On Cold Damage.” It is joined with Ephedra and aconite to heal shaoyin disease in initial stage that manifests fever and deep pulse;

6) Cong Er Wan from Gong Shi Jing Yan Fang (Experiential Recipes from Gong’s). It is ground into powder and made into pills to treat deafness.

Wild ginger plant side effects and contraindications

Is wild ginger plant edible? According to textbooks, it is a toxic drug. Because of the obvious poisonousness, initially the dose should be strictly controlled. Otherwise, large doses of its volatile oil can first excite and then suppress the central nervous system, slow voluntary movement and breathing, disappear reflexes, and finally lead to death due to respiratory paralysis. In addition, overdose of Asarum herb may cause arrhythmia because it has a direct inhibitory effect on cardiac muscle.

Main poisoning symptoms include headache, vomiting, irritability, sweating, stiff neck, thirst, increased body temperature and blood pressure, mildly dilated pupils, facial flushing, etc. If left untreated, the condition may quickly turn into spasticity, jaw clenching, opisthotonos, confusion, twitching limbs, urine retention, and finally death caused by respiratory paralysis.

There are two main reasons for Asarum poisoning: either directly swallow excessive dose of its powder or the decoction time is too short to spoil the toxic ingredient. So, strictly comply with Asarum’s usage and dosage to ensure drug safety when wild ginger plant is a must in your remedy.

Siegesbeckia (Xi Xian Cao)

xi-xian-caoWhen it comes to siegesbeckia herb, also known as Herba Siegesbeckiae in pharmaceutical Latin and Xi Xian Cao in Pinyin, very few people might know something about it since it is quite unattractive and unpleasant. Actually its Chinese name, literally “Pig Pungent Weed”, says it all. According to Li Shizhen, it got a name like this due to its pig-like smell and pungent taste. However, this unlovely weed has long been found with amazing medicinal properties for rheumatalgia. In addition, today modern researchers also found that it improves immunity and lowers blood pressure. But the health benefits of siegesbeckia weed don’t end here and apparently it is capable of more than what the world thinks it is not. So, now let’s get to know more about this Chinese herb.

What is siegesbeckia?

It is a genus of Asteraceae and owns a few annual plants. When it is used as medicine, it actually means the dried aerial part of Siegesbeckia orientalis L., Siegesbeckia pubescens Makino, or Siegesbeckia glabrescens Makino. In China they are primarily produced in Hunan, Hubei, and Jiangsu. The best reaping time is summer and autumn before and during the blossom. Before used raw or steamed with Shaoxing wine, the impurities should be remove and they should be dried. And the high-quality one is with many leaves, thick gray-green stem, buds, and no roots and impurities.

Siegesbeckia orientalis is an annual herb, up to 1 meter or more. The upper part of branches, especially the inflorescence branches, is covered with purple-brown, capitate, and long-handle trichomes and white, long pubescence. Leaves are opposite and blade is thin, short-haired both sides, and with white long pubescence along the veins. Capitulum is 2 to 3 cm in diameter, many, and arranged in corymbose. Achene is about 3.5mm. Flowering times is from August to October and the fruiting time from September to December. Habitats are wood edge, forest, wilderness, and roadside.

It mainly contains terpenes and glycosides, such as Darutoside, Darutogenol, Isodarutogenol, Stigmasterol, Orientin, Orientalide, and so on.

Siegesbeckia benefits

It is native to Southeast Asia and adapts to hot, humid environments. So, medicinally what is siegesbeckia used for? Actually its medicinal history can be dated back to the Tang Dynasty, about 1,000 years ago. Then it was formally recorded in Xin Xiu Ben Cao (Newly Compiled Materia Medica) as a medicine mainly for eliminating wind-damp. And long before a few hundreds of years, the sap secreted by siegesbeckia leaves has been used by the ancient Chinese people to treat rheumatism. In recent years, it was found with an active ingredient that has aspirin-like structure. Currently, its calming and soothing effect are being used by the field of beauty.

Clinically siegesbeckia plant and Chou Wu Tong (Folium Clerodendri Trichotomi) are capable of treating rheumatism, rubella, eczema, urticaria, and pruritus. As a result, they are commonly used in pair to treat many ailments. However, they have their own advantage respectively. Siegesbeckia is still good at treating physical challenges like paralysis that commonly occur after stroke since it can get rid of wind-damp between the bones and muscles; Folium Clerodendri Trichotomi also treats dizziness and headache since it tranquilizes liver Yang.

Modern pharmacological actions

1) It is anti-inflammatory and analgesic;
2) It is antihypertensive;
3) It inhibits cellular immunity, humoral immunity and nonspecific immunity;
4) It can enhance T cell proliferation, promote the activity of IL-2, inhibit IL-1 activity, and improve local pathological reactions by adjusting the body’s immune function to slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis;
5) It can dilate blood vessels;
6) It significantly inhibits thrombosis;
7) It has a strong inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus aureus;
8) It has a certain inhibitory effect on Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella sonnei, Salmonella typhi, staphylococcus albus, Neisseria catarrhalis, Salmonella Enteritidis, plasmodium yoelii, and the like;
9) It has moderate inhibition on herpes simplex virus;
10) It can excite the uterus and has obvious anti-pregnancy effect.

Sample siegesbeckia recipes on herbal remedies

The Chinese Pharmacopoeia says that it is acrid and bitter in flavor and cold in nature. It goes to meridians of liver and kidney. Basic functions are expelling wind-damp, lubricating joint, and detoxifying. Primary siegesbeckia uses and indications include rheumatism, weak bones and tendons, weakness and pain in the low back and knees, quadriplegia, paraplegia, rubella, and eczema. Recommended dosage is from 9 to 12 grams in decoction. And it is still available in the forms of siegesbeckia orientalis extract, cream, tea, and so on.

1) Xi Xian San from Huo Ren Fang Hui Bian (Collection of Life-saving Prescriptions). It is made into honey pills through complicated process to treat numbness in limbs, waist and knee pain, and more due to pathogenic wind, cold, and dampness;

2) Xi Tong Wan from Yang Sheng Jing Yan He Ji (The Compilation of Regimen). It is coupled with Folium Clerodendri Trichotomi to cure sore feet or hands;

3) Huo Song Wan from Shi Yi De Xiao Fang (Effective Formulas from Generations of Physicians). It is used alone to heal diarrhea due to wind running in the stomach;

4) Shou Wu Yan Shou Dan from Shi Bu Zhai Yi Shu (Medical Works of the Shibu Studio). It is combined with He Shou Wu (Polygonum Multiflorum), Nu Zhen Zi (Chinese Privet), Han Lian Cao (Eclipta Alba), Tu Si Zi (Dodder Seed), Du Zhong (Eucommia Bark), etc. to treat Yin-blood deficiency induced weak lower back and knees, dizziness, dim eyesight, tinnitus, insomnia, and premature graying.

Siegesbeckia side effects and contraindications

Siegesbeckia herb is non-toxic and causes no apparent discomfort if it is taken orally in the conventional dose of decoction. But overdose may lead to adverse reactions like nausea and loose stool. Li Shizhen pointed out that the alleged small toxicity was referred to as the gastrointestinal discomfort caused by overdose. So, when it is used in high doses, other stomach-harmonizing herbs should be added in in order to reduce stomach discomfort. TCM wise, it shouldn’t be taken by patients who are diagnosed with deficiency of blood and Yin.

Rhinoceros Horn (Xi Jiao)

xi-jiaoAccording to Evidence based medicine (EBM), rhinoceros horn or Xi Jiao has no medicinal value at all. This conclusion is almost completely opposite to what traditional medicine professed about this herb. That’s to say, it has been scientifically proven ineffective no matter it is used as an aphrodisiac or a drug for fever and convulsions. In addition, rhino horn is not non-substitutable either even in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In fact, the related entries had been officially removed from The Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China (PPRC) since 1993. It means this herb goes away completely from then on. The following conclusion on this herb from the perspective of the self-organizing system TCM might also be outdated and offending. However, the words below don’t mean to be offensive to anyone since this is more an academic discussion among TCM practitioners. So, please take them with a pinch of salt if you feel that way.

Medicinally rhinoceros horn, also known as Xi Jiao, comes from both Asian and African rhinoceros. Traditionally the Asian one is believed with a higher medicinal value. As a Chinese herb with an extremely cold property, it was once considered as one of the few lifesaving drugs people suffering from severe fever could rely on. As you know, even now lack of medical technology is ubiquitous throughout all poor countries, let alone in ancient China. Statistically, there are a lot of old herbal prescriptions containing this herb, which reflects in part that the population of rhino was really large then. Unfortunately, poaching rhinos has essentially made it an endangered species today. To save endangered rhinos and alleviate the shortage, buffalo horns have been used as its substitute since the 1990s.

What is rhinoceros horn?

It refers to the horns of Rhinoceros unicornis L., R. sondaicus Desmarest, R. sumatrensis Cuvier, R. bicornis L., R. simus Cottoni and other species in the family Rhinocerotidae. When consumed in a medicinal manner it should be split, soaked in hot water, taken out, sliced with a special knife, and dried. In addition, it is often used in the form of powder as well.

When it comes to medicinal rhinoceros horns, they are commonly referred to as the horns from Asian rhinoceros. They are characterized by smaller size (all of them are at 30cm long or so), oval chassis (like a watermelon seed or turtle back, slightly narrower at one end and slightly wider at another end), “bamboo pattern” on longitudinal section, “millet grain pattern” on cross-section, and faint scent. But their weights range from 0.5 to 10kg.

Main chemical constituents are keratin. Besides, it still contains other proteins, peptides and free amino acids, guanidine derivatives, sterols and the like. Among the amino acid composition of keratin, cystine accounts for 8.7%. 3 kinds of basic amino acids are histidine, lysine, and arginine.

Rhinoceros horn benefits

It is an age-old medicine for people who live throughout the Middle East and the Far East. There it is hailed as a “panacea” for vomiting, chicken pox and other diseases. In the Middle East, rhino horn is conventional item for a young lad’s decoration and self-defense weapon. Allegedly, rhinoceros horn price there is staggering, e.g. a pretty dagger made of it is worth twelve thousand U.S. dollars there. It is also one of major causes why rhinos are endangered. For that reason, in the past century many types of rhinos, black or white, have been hunted extensively. It is said that now only 20 R. sondaicus Desmarest survive worldwide.

Even though now it is not used as a medicine any more. Knowing a bit more about the medical facts about rhinos can be good for you. From the perspective of Chinese herbal medicine, it works wonders for all blood poisoning diseases, e.g. blood-poisoning induced skin diseases like psoriasis. What’s more, less anti-virus blood cells may lead to the occurrence of cancer. Thus it can be seen that toxic in the blood is terrible. As mentioned above, this is a keratin-like substance and a derivative of hair substances, containing keratin, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, tyrosine, and the like. Hence,it is often carved into rhinoceros horn cup by artisans in order to let its medicinal ingredient dissolve into the wine. By doing so, it can help cure diseases and improve health.

However, what calls for special attention is that it has been proven by many modern researches that it has no anti-cancer properties at all.

Modern pharmacological actions

1) An impact on heart and blood vessels. Its water decoction has cardiotonic effect on normal or feeble isolated heart of toads and rabbits. And it initially increases, then decreases, finally continues increasing the blood pressure of dogs and rabbits. This change may be the result of combined efforts of heart and blood vessels. In addition, it first contracts briefly and then expands the lower extremity perfusion in toads;

2) Antipyretic effects. Both rhinoceros and buffalo horns show no antipyretic effects to E. coli induced fever in rabbits. Similarly, buffalo horn injection and suspensions have no obvious antipyretic effect to milk-induced fever in rabbits;

3) Other effects. Trotter’s nail and horn of rhinoceros, cow, and sheep have excitatory effect to isolated intestines of rabbit. And they initially reduce the total number of white blood cells in rabbits and then give a sharp rise. Besides, they show no inhibition to Staphylococcus, in vivo and in vitro;

4) From the preliminary test results of isolated heart, isolated intestine, rabbit blood pressure, fever reduction, blood picture, inhibition of the growth of bacteria, some people draw the conclusion that all of items mentioned above basically play a similar role medicinally;

5) After soaked and boiled with saline, it first shows a brief inhibition and then an excitatory effect on isolated frog heart, featuring increased amplitude but nearly unchanged heart rate. The intravenous injection in rabbits can cause rise in blood pressure, vasodilation in ear, excitement to isolated rabbit intestine and uterus, reduction to E. coli induced fever, and slight mydriasis. 0.5 ml intravenous injection of 30% in mice could cause spasms, irregular breathing, and proptosis. But the above symptoms will disappear within 5 minutes, followed by up to 5 – 6 hours of sleep.

Sample rhino’s horn recipes on herbal remedies

“The National Herbal Compendium” believes that it is bitter, sour, and salty in flavor and cold in nature. Vital functions are removing heat to cool blood, relieve internal heat, and arresting convulsion. Essential rhinoceros horn uses and indications include fever-induced coma, delirium, rash, vomiting, and epistaxis. Recommended dosage is from 3 to 6 Fen in juice and powder or from 0.5 to 2 Qian in decoction.

1) Shen Xi Dan from Wen Re Jing Wei (Compendium of Epidemic Febrile Diseases). It is formulated with (aconite), Shi Chang Pu (Acorus Gramineus), Huang Qin (Scutellaria), Sheng Di Huang (Rehmannia Glutinosa), Jin Yin Hua (Honeysuckle Flower), Lian Qiao (Forsythia), etc. to treat summer epidemics caused by warm and hot pathogens, spasms, mania, delirium, spots, and so on;

2) Qing Gong Tang from Wen Bing Tiao Bian (Detailed Analysis of Warm Diseases). It is combined with Xuan Shen (Scrophularia), Lian Xin (Lotus Plumule), Zhu Ye (Folium Bambusae), etc. to cure Taiyin febrile syndrome, coma and delirium;

3) Xi Jiao San from Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (Taiping Holy Prescriptions for Universal Relief). It is matched with Yin Chen Hao (Herba Artemisiae Scopariae), Scutellaria, Zhi Zi (Gardenia), Sheng Ma (Cimicifuga), and Mang Xiao (Glauber’s Salt) to heal fulminant jaundice, irritability and fidget, and red painful eyes;

4) Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang from Qian Jin Fang (Thousand golden essential prescriptions). It is joined with Rehmannia, Shao Yao (Peony Root), and Mu Dan Pi (Tree Peony) to treat typhoid fever and febrile disease, blood amassment, epistaxis, vomiting blood, blood stasis inside, yellowish complexion, and black stool;

5) Xi Jiao Xiao Du Yin from Qi Fang Lei Bian (Collections of Incredible Prescriptions). It is equipped with Niu Bang Zi (Burdock), Jing Jie (Schizonepeta), Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae), Scutellaria, and Gan Cao (licorice root), to heal infantile erysipelas.

Rhinoceros horn side effects and contraindications

Lei Gong Pao Zhi Lun (Lei’s Treatise on Processing of Drugs) says that rhinoceros horn should not be taken by pregnant women; the Ben Cao Jing Ji Zhu (Collection of Commentaries on the Classic of the Materia Medica) says that it dislikes stone-like omphalia; Ben Cao Gang Mu (The Compendium of Materia Medica) says that it dislikes aconite; Ben Cao Jing Shu (Classic Theory of Materia Medica) says that it shouldn’t be used in cases of restlessness in Yin syndrome and smallpox accompanied with Qi deficiency and no high heat.

Watermelon Rind (Xi Gua Pi)

xi-gua-piWatermelon rind, also known as Pericarpium Citrulli Vulgaris in pharmaceutical Latin, is something undesirable after the flesh has been consumed, right? But what would be your first response if you are told that it is packed with nutrients? In fact, you are not alone and it comes as a surprise to many to hear that watermelon rind is like Viagra. More than that, thanks to its excellent medicinal properties, it has many more medicinal uses. That’s to say, it has been commonly used as a Chinese herbal medicine, called Xi Gua Pi in Pinyin, for the treatment of diabetes, nephritis edema, acne, erectile dysfunction (ED), wounds, and so on. So, is it good for you? However, the most credible saying is that it depends.

What is watermelon rind?

Medicinally it mainly refers to the mesocarp of Citrullus vulgaris Schrad. This is a member in the genus citrullus of Cucurbitaceae family. The processing steps are to peel the epicarp and pulp residue, wash, and dry. Besides, watermelon seeds are also used medicinally.

Dried rind is thin and curled. It is in cylindrical or irregular shapes and of different sizes, with yellow, yellow-green or dark brown outer surface and inner surface with reticular vascular bundle lines. IT is brittle and easily broken. Those without the outer peel are irregularly blocky, wrinkled and curled, with sallow surface, clear wrinkles, and reticular vascular bundles. And it is slightly odorous and almost tasteless.

Peels contain sugar and wax. And watermelon rind juice contains citrulline, betaine, malic acid, fructose, glucose, sucrose, lycopene, vitamin C and so on.

Watermelon rind benefits

Modern pharmacology shows that citrulline contained can promote the formation of urea in rat liver. So, it has a diuretic effect and can be used to treat nephritis edema, jaundice due to liver disease, and diabetes. In addition, it can still alleviate fever, promote wound healing and promote skin metabolism. In summary, 7 major health benefits of eating watermelon rind are as follows

1) U.S. researchers recently found that watermelon is more than just an ordinary fruit since it contains an amino acid called citrulline. This interesting topic actually stems from the fact that citrulline is found with similar pharmacological effects with Viagra. That being said, citrulline acts like an aphrodisiac by increasing the amount of blood that enters the cavernosa and promoting the release of nitric oxide. Is watermelon rind better than Viagra? Well, this is a good question. It must be said, though, that eating watermelon alone won’t be highly effective, which is consistent with the results of the latest research – you must eat at least 30 watermelons to have the same effect of a Viagra. So, long term use of it is a good idea if you know how to use it to make delicious dishes;

2) In summer days the scorching sun may make some people feel a variety of symptoms like chest discomfort, low spirits, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever and so on. And these symptoms won’t go away if the hot weather continues, and what’s worse, they would just come the following summer. In fact, this series of symptoms are not caused by organic cause but the invasion of human body by summer-heat and damp and thus the repression of spleen-stomach Qi, according to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine. These symptoms are mainly found in children who drink too much and women who have a sedentary living. And watermelon peel is one of those healthy foods that can be of help;

3) Acne is kind of skin disease that occurs in the hair-follicle sebaceous glands. The causes of acne vary, but the most direct factor is the clogged pores. After the pores are blocked, grease inside the hair follicles fails to drain out and piles up to form small acne. Due to different response of the individuals, the extent of damage caused by acne is different. And the clinical performance is not always the same either. Some people only have small acne, but some others have severe cysts, which in the end will lead to acne marks or even scars. For those acne caused by heat, eating watermelon rinds can be a good way to go;

4) It is low in calories, about only 31 calories in 100 grams. That means it is possible to lose weight by replacing it with the intake of staple food. The health benefits of its juice cannot be ignored as well. It helps increase the flow of urine, which therefore not only reduces the level of bile pigment, but also keeps a regular bowel movement every day. But it is the tannins that can make you slimming. The excess carbohydrates won’t provide energy to maintain your daily activities. Instead they are transformed into neutral fat, such as subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, and so on. Good news is that the ingestion of tannic acid can help decompose and burn fat rapidly. In addition, watermelon peel is rich in potassium, which increases secretion of urine and alleviates water retention. As a result, it expels the excess salt from the body and reduces edema, especially the swelling of the legs. In this respect, it is a natural way to give women shapelier legs;

5) Chinese medicine believes that prickly heat is mainly caused by the accumulation of summer heat in combination with dampness in the skin, followed by the clogged pores. Because it clears heat and drains the damp, it works on the prevention and treatment of prickly heat, both externally and internally;

6) It is good for skin since the citrulline contained can promote skin metabolism, lighten skin, improve moisture in the skin, and get rid of acne marks. In addition, it is high in vitamin C and vitamin E, which makes it a great ingredient for face mask. More importantly, it is quite easy to use – mash it and then put them on the face for 15 minutes before the cleansing. As you can see, the face mask is that simple. But it does make the skin smooth and tender. In addition, it has some effect in the treatment of sunburn too;

7) It can be used to treat lung injury due to summer heat, fever, thirst, dry cough with no phlegm, or constipation.

Sample watermelon rind recipes on herbal remedies

The Chinese Materia Medica says that it is sweet in flavor and cool and non-toxic in nature. It goes to meridians of heart, stomach, and urinary bladder. Major functions are clearing heat, relieving thirst, and increase the flow of urine. Key watermelon rind uses and indications include fidget and thirst due to summer-heat, scarcity of urine secretion, edema, and mouth sores. Recommended dosage is from 9 to 30 grams. Besides, in the market there are many related items ready for use, e.g. watermelon rind pickles, preserves, jelly, candy, jam, powder, pills, tea, soup, and so on.

1) Xian Dai Shi Yong Zhong Yao (The “Modern Practical Chinese Drugs”) reads that it combines with Rhizoma Imperatae to treat nephritis and edema;

2) She Sheng Zhong Miao Fang (Marvelous Formulas for the Health of the Multitudes) records that it can cure lower back strain and pulled back muscle after it is dried in the shade, ground into powder, and mixed with salt and wine;

3) Ben Cao Hui Yan (Treasury of Words on the Materia Medica) says that it heal toothache by applying its ash in the affected area between the teeth.

Watermelon rind side effects and contraindications

Is watermelon rind edible? Yes. But a consumption of a large amount of it may cause injury of stomach and spleen. As a result, it will thus lead to gastrointestinal dysfunction, diarrhea and other diseases. So, TCM wise it shouldn’t be used in the patients with retention of cold and dampness in spleen and stomach.

Evodia Rutaecarpa (Wu Zhu Yu)

wu-zhu-yuEvodia rutaecarpa, also known as Tetradium ruticarpum or Euodia ruticarpa, is a medicinal plant with amazing medicinal and curative properties. Its main medicinal part is the fruits that are called Wu Zhu Yu in Pinyin and Evodiae Fructus in Pharmaceutical Latin. Impressed by its incredible versatility, many doctors commonly utilize it as a bitter stomachic, analgesic, ascaricide, and more. From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, it is the best possible herb that you can take advantage to treat headache or epigastric pain caused by deficiency cold of spleen and stomach syndrome and upward gush of turbid Yin.

What is Evodia rutaecarpa?

To answer question like that, let’s figure out what Evodia is in the first place. Evodia, the misspelling of Euodia, is actually a plant genus in the family Rutaceae. However, the direct genus Evodia rutaecarpa belongs to is not Euodia but Tetradium, a genus of 9 species of trees. It is known as Euodia or Bee bee tree in the west because it was classified to the genus Euodia in the ancient literature.

As mentioned above, medicinally it mainly refers to the dried nearly ripe fruit of Evodia rutaecarpa (Juss) Benth., Evodia rutaecarpa (Juss.) Benth. var. officinalis (Dode) Huang, and Evodia rutaecarpa (JUSS.) BENTH. var. bodinieri (DODE) HUANG. Other common names of it include Wu-Chu-Yu, Evodia Fruit, Gosyuyu, Wu Yu, San Cha Ku, and so on. In China it is mainly produced in provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, Hunan, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Zhejiang, and Sichuan. The fruit-bearing shoots are usually cut with scissors when the fruits have not been cracked during August to October. And then it is dried in the sun or low temperature before branches, leaves, stems and other impurities are removed. Medicinally it should be processed by licorice decoction.

Euodia ruticarpa is a small tree or shrub, 3 to 5 meters high. Bothe dark purple twigs and buds are covered with grayish yellow or rust-colored hair or sparse short pubescence. They commonly grow in the sunny slope of mountain woodland or bushes at an altitude of 1500 meters. In addition, it is also cultivated in many locations.

The volatile oil of Evodia rutaecarpa fruits contains evodene, evodol, and limonin. Fruits contain evodiamine, rutaecarpine, evocarpine, Hydroxyevodiamine, wuchuyine, ocimene, evodione, evogin, rutaevin, aspartic acid, tryptophan, threonine, serine, cystine, and so on.

Evodia rutaecarpa benefits

On September 9th, the double ninth festival, the ancient Chinese would wear Evodia, climb mountain, and drink chrysanthemum wine. This is simply because it is considered a unique amulet and wearing Evodia was once the main symbol of the double ninth festival, which thus sometimes is also known as “Evodia Festival.” Today this custom is still popular and people believe that this custom can make bad luck go away. This may be a myth, but it is certain that this is indeed a good medicine.

Evodia has long been used as a medicinal medicine, which is included in the “Shen Nong’s Herbal Classic”, the earliest extant medical works in China. In the clinical treatment of TCM, it is often used to treat a variety of pains, e.g. Jueyin headache (pain at the top and the corners of the head), cold in women’s lower abdomen, diarrhea at dawn, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, hiccup, excessive salivation disorders in children, children with bronchial pneumonia, high blood pressure, mumps, enterobiasis, scabies, eczema, recurrent oral ulcers, and the like.

When it comes to Evodia fruit, the herbal formula must be mentioned is the Wu Zhu Yu Tang, which is from Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Pathogenic Diseases). Besides of headache, vomiting, and stomach pain, this herb is still ideal for the treatment of vertigo and cold-induced hernia. However, clinically flexibility and small change is still required according to the individual situation. It makes sense to add Fu Zi (monkshood) for patients with heavy chill, Ding Xiang (Cloves) and Ban Xia (Pinellia) for patients with severe vomiting, Bai Dou Kou (Round Cardamon Fruit) for patients with bloating, Hai Piao Xiao (Cuttlefish Bone) for patients with acid regurgitation, and Dang Gui (Dong Quai) for patients of blood deficiency.

Modern pharmacological actions of Evodia

1) Both of its methanol extract and water decoction have anti-ulcer activity on experimental gastric ulcer in animal;
2) Its decoction has antagonistic effect on drug-induced gastrointestinal spasms. In addition, it has a significant analgesic effect;
3) Its intravenous injection can significantly raise the blood pressure of anesthetized rats and dogs;
4) After the normal rabbits, dogs and dogs of experimental renal hypertension have been given an intravenous injection of its filtered decoction, distillate and granules, it showed a significant antihypertensive effect;
5) Its decoction orally also showed a significant antihypertensive effect to dogs, but licorice decoction can counteract the evodia antihypertensive effect;
6) It can inhibit platelet aggregation and platelet and fibrin thrombus formation;
7) Its decoction, rutaecarpine and Dehydroevodiamine have excitatory effect to vitro and in vivo uterine of rabbits;
8) Evodia and Evodia decoction can help improve myocardial ischemia in a cat. It can bring some improvement to ECG quality, partially reduce the release of lactate dehydrogenase enzyme and creatine phosphate in blood, significantly increase the levels of nitric oxide in blood, and narrow infarct size. That’s to say, it protects against myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury in rats.

Sample Evodia recipes on herbal remedies

The “Chinese Pharmacopoeia” tells that it is acrid, bitter in flavor and hot, slightly toxic in nature. It goes to meridians of liver, spleen, stomach, and kidney. Essential functions are eliminating cold to stop pain, calming the adverse-rising energy to arrest vomiting, supporting Yang, and checking diarrhea. Primary Evodia rutaecarpa uses and indications include Jueyin headache, abdominal pain due to cold hernia, cold wet beriberi, painful menstrual periods, abdominal pain and bloating, vomiting, acid regurgitation, fifth-watch (daybreak diarrhea), aphtha, and hypertension. Recommended dosage is from 1.5 to 4.5 grams in decoction.

1) Zuo Jin Wan or Hui Ling Wan from Dan Xi Xin Fa (Dan Xi’s Experiential Methods). It is coupled with Huang Lian (Coptis) to treat liver fire;

2) Wu Zhu Yu Tang from Shang Han Lun. It is combined with Ren Shen (Ginseng), Sheng Jiang (Fresh ginger), and Da Zao (Jujube fruit) to cure vomiting with fullness sensation in chest and retching with drooling and headache;

3) Wu Ji Wan from Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Formulas of the Peaceful Benevolent Dispensary). It is matched with Coptis and Bai Shao (White Peony Root) to heal dampness attacking spleen induced nonstop watery diarrhea, indigestion, abdominal tingling, and more;

4) Ji Ming San from Zheng Zhi Zhun Sheng (The Level-line of Patterns and Treatment). It is formulated with Bing Lang (betel nut), Chen Pi (Citrus Peel), Mu Gua (Quince Fruit), Zi Su Ye (Perilla Leaf), Jie Geng (Balloon Flower Rhizome), and fresh ginger to treat beriberi-induced pain;

5) Duo Ming Dan from the “Formulas of the Peaceful Benevolent Dispensary.” It is equipped with Ze Xie (Water Plantain) to make pills for acute or chronic hernia.

Evodia rutaecarpa side effects and contraindications

Evodia rutaecarpa fruit is considered a slightly toxic herb since it contains a variety of alkaloids that can stimulate the central nervous system. Overdose may lead to intense abdominal pain, diarrhea, blurred vision, illusion, hair loss, chest tightness, headache, dizziness, or rash. TCM wise, it shouldn’t be used in case of fire excess from Yin deficiency.

Admittedly, Evodia fruit is with high medicinal value and has a significant effect in the treatment of many diseases. But since this is an herb with somewhat toxicity, you must understand its suitability before the use. So, take it under a doctor’s guidance if necessary to better protect your health.

Lindera Root (Wu Yao)

wu-yaoLindera root, also known as Wu Yao in Pinyin, is a famous Chinese herbal medicine that is commonly used to promoting and regulating the circulation of vital energy. Clinically it is frequently used to treat abdominal pain, hernia, and so on. The details of its origin, medicinal properties, harvesting, and medicinal parts were first recorded in “The Supplements to Compendium of Materia Medica” (Ben Cao Gang Mu Shi Yi). And the one grown in Tiantai Zhejiang has long been considered as the best on quality. By the way, Tiantai Mountain is a place of origin to quite a few other famous Chinese herbs, e.g. Tienchi Ginseng, Atractylodes, Peony root, Poria, and more.

What is lindera root?

Just as its name implies, it refers to the roots of Lindera aggregata (Sims) Kosterm, a plant species in the family Lauraceae. And it is also commonly known as Japanese evergreen spicebush, radix lindera, and evergreen lindera. But please don’t confuse it with lindera benzoin since they come from the same genus. In China it is basically produced in Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangsu, and Shaanxi. It can be harvested all the year round, followed by removal of fine roots, washing, slicing when fresh, and drying in the sun. Medicinally it is used raw or fried with bran.

Medicinal lindera comes from single wild source. Lindera aggregata is an evergreen shrub or small tree. Leaves are leathery, oval-shaped, with 3 veins and off-white, piliferous lower surface. It is a spring-flowering plant, with mall, pale yellow petals. It is dioecious and with umbel. Fruits are black. Leaves and fruit can be used to extract aromatic oils.

Roots contains Linderol (Borneol), Sesquiterpenoids, Laurolitsine, and the like. And Sesquiterpenoids include Linderane, Linderalactone, Isolinderalactone, Neolinderalactone, Lindestrenolide, Linderene, Lindenenone, Lindestrene, Linderene acetate, Isolinderoxide, Linderaic acid (C15H18O3), Linderazulene, Chamazulene, and so on.

Lindera root health benefits

In the eyes of ordinary people it is a small shrub, just like those commonly seen around. But from the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine, it is a very good medicine that can cure. Being one of essential ingredient in the Kampo herb list, it is frequently added to many Chinese patent drugs, typifying by Chaihu Shugan Wan and TianTai Wuyao Wan (the Lindera Combination Teapills).

Just like any other herbs that use a help from others, lindera is no exception. Combining it with others will bring a boost to its healing power. The paring with Chen Xiang (agilawood) is often used to treat liver-stagnation and spleen-deficiency induced chest tightness, abdominal distension, shortness of breath, fatigue, and vomiting; the paring with Dang Gui (Dong Quai) is ideal for congealing cold, Qi-stagnation and blood stasis caused dysmenorrhea, postpartum abdominal pain and hernia; the pairing with Mu Xiang (Costus) makes more sense in the treatment of abdominal pain, bloating and gastrointestinal neurosis that are caused by congealing cold and Qi-stagnation; the paring with Yi Zhi Ren (Black Cardamon) is preferable in treating frequent urination and enuresis due to kidney Yang-deficiency.

Modern pharmacological actions

1) It has two-way adjustments, namely excitability and inhibition, on the gastrointestinal smooth muscle;
2) It can promote the secretion of digestive juices;
3) Orally its volatile oil can excite the cerebral cortex, promote breathing, stimulate cardiac muscle, accelerate blood circulation, increase blood pressure and induce sweating;
4) External application of its can make local vasodilation, accelerate blood circulation, and ease muscle cramps;
5) It inhibits sarcoma S180 in mice.

Sample lindera recipes on herbal remedies

Based on the record of the “Chinese Pharmacopoeia”, it is acrid in flavor and warm in nature. It goes to the meridians of lung, spleen, kidney, and urinary bladder. Primary functions are guiding Qi downward to relieve pain and warming kidney for dispelling cold. Basic lindera root used and indications include abdominal pain and bloating, chest discomfort, dyspnea due to circulation of vital energy in the wrong direction, deficient and cold urinary bladder, enuresis, frequent urination, hernia, and dysmenorrhea. Recommended dosage is from 3 to 9 grams in decoction. In addition, lindera root extract is available too.

1) Wu Yao Shun Qi San from Chi Shui Xuan Zhu (The Black Pearl from the Red River). It is put together with Xiang Fu (Nut Grass Rhizome), agilawood, Sha Ren (Cardamom Seed), Ju Hong (Exocarpium Citri Erythrocarpae), and Ban Xia (Pinellia) to treat fullness and stagnation caused by worries, grief and sorrow;

2) Si Mo Tang from Ji Sheng Fang (Life-saving prescriptions). It is combined with Ren Shen (Ginseng), Bing Lang (betel nut), and agilawood to cure sorrow, wheezing, moodiness, and loss of appetite;

3) Xiang Fu San from Shen Zhai Yi Shu (shen-zhai’s Writings for Posterity). It is coupled with Cyperus to heal whole body pain caused by stagnation of blood and Qi;

4) Pai Qi Yin from Shen Shi Zun Sheng Shu (Master Shen’s Writings on Respecting Life). It is formulated with Chen Pi (Citrus Peel), Huo Xiang (Patchouli), Zhi Ke (Fructus Aurantii), Hou Po (Magnolia Bark), etc. to treat postpartum inverse Qi and indigestion pain;

5) Wu Yao San from Zhu Shi Ji Yan Fang (Collection of Experiential Prescription from Dr. Zhu). It is matched with Du Dang Gui (Peueedanum deeursivum) to cure postpartum abdominal pain;

6) Wu Yao San from Bo Ji Fang (Extensive Relieving Prescriptions). It is joined with Shi Luo (dill) to heal dry or wet beriberi;

7) Wu Jin Wan from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It is charred, ground, and mixed with millet rice to make pills for bloody diarrhea.

Lindera root side effects and contraindications

Lindera root is non-toxic and causes no discomfort in the conventional dose of decoction. And it has no obvious side effects either even though in long-term use. TCM wise, it shouldn’t be used during pregnancy and in cases of the physically weak and patients of excess heat and internal heat due to yin deficiency.

Schizandra Berry (Wu Wei Zi)

wu-wei-ziSchizandra berry, also known as Fructus Schisandrae in pharmaceutical Latin, is a top restorative that was first enrolled in The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing). The Newly Revised Herbology (Xin Xiu Ben Cao), compiled in the Tang dynasty (618~907 A.D.), reviewed that the reason why it was named Wu Wei Zi, literally Five Flavored Berry, is because of its sweet, sour, and salty peel and flesh and acrid, bitter pit. It is used so frequently in traditional Chinese medicine that it is viewed as one of the 50 fundamental Chinese herbs these days. So, what is schizandra used for? Now let’s take a close look at this amazing tonic.

What is schizandra?

Actually there are two kinds of schizandra berries that are commonly used medicinally. They are the ripe fruits of Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill. or Schisandra sphenanthera Rehd. et Wils. Both of them are plant species of family Magnoliaceae. In China the former one is better known as “North schizandra” since it is mainly produced in the Northeast; the latter is better known as “South schizandra” since they are mainly from the southwest and south of the Yangtze River. And the south one is typically believed with better medicinal properties. Other common names include Schisandra Fruit, Schisandra Seed, Five Taste Fruits, Five Flavors Fruit, and more. Medicinally they are collected in fall when the fruits are ripe. And then they are just needed to be dried in the sun. It is normally used raw or steamed with vinegar and honey.

Schisandra chinensis berry is in the shape of irregular ball or flat ball, in the diameter of 5 to 8mm. The surface is red or purplish red, wrinkled, and oily. Some are dark red, covered with frost. Seeds are 1 to 2 and kidney-shaped; surface is brown and shiny; seed coat is thin and brittle; pulp is soft, with slight aroma and sour taste. The crushed seeds are aromatic, spicy, and bitter.

Schisandra sphenanthera berry is spike-like aggregate fruits. They are spherical, fleshy, dark red when ripe. The dried fruits are smaller in size, shriveled, and wrinkled, with reddish brown to dark brown surface and flesh that is often close to the seed.

It contains schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, neoschizandrin, schizandrol, schisantherin, and so on.

Modern pharmacological actions of schisandra berries

1) It produces stimulation to all levels of the central nervous system;
2) It affects both the excitatory and inhibitory processes of cerebral cortex to therefore bring balance;
3) It stimulates the respiratory system. As a result, it is antitussive and expectorant;
4) It lowers blood pressure;
5) It promotes the discharge of bile, lowers serum transaminases, and protects liver cells;
6) It has ginseng-like adaptogen, which can enhance the body’s defense capabilities to non-specific stimulation;
7) It increases cellular immune function and thus significantly enhances the SOD activity of brain, liver, spleen SOD. Hence, it has immunity-improving, anti-oxidation, and anti-aging effects;
8) It inhibits Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Salmonella enterica, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and more.

Schizandra berry benefits

In the TCM point of view, it is commonly used to help treat night sweats, polydipsia, frequent urination, urinary incontinence and premature ejaculation because it tonifies kidney and promotes the secretion of body fluid. More importantly, it possesses astringent and tonic properties although the astringency is stronger. The medical sage Zhang Zhongjing loves to combine it with Gan Jiang (dried ginger) and Xi Xin (Herba Asari) to stop cough and asthma by astringing the lung. It makes sense since these herbs oppose each other and yet also complement each other by respective opening and closing nature. Another great finding is its function of reducing excitability and astringing Promordial Qi, typifying by Du Qi Wan, composed of Liu Wei Di Huang Wan plus schizandra. This formula was first recorded in Zhang Shi Yi Tong (Comprehensive Medicine according to Master Zhang) in Qing dynasty and it is traditionally used to treat asthma and vomiting due to kidney deficiency. Today it is confirmed that it protects liver and reduces serum transaminases. In addition, in recent years it has been reported that it could treat myocardial infarction too.

It is conventionally believed with the ability to protect the five internal organs – heart, liver, spleen, lung, and kidney. It is all the rage worldwide now, in particular in China and Japan. As early as 2 thousand years ago, this tonic has been widely used in kings, millionaires, and herbalists. As its name implies, it is a berry that is with 5 kinds of flavors – spicy, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. This makes it easily stand out from the rest herbs that are usually with 1 or 2 flavors. Thanks for that, it helps play an important role in balancing the relationship of five internal organs.

Schisandra is rich in organic acids, vitamins, flavonoids, phytosterols, and lignans. Lignans, e.g. schizandrin and schisandrin B, has a potent recovery effect. It is also one of the few herbs that benefit essence, vital breath and spirit at the same time. In other words, it tonifies vital energy, protecting liver, increasing the efficiency of removing waste in cells, supply more oxygen, create and use energy, improve memory and sexual stamina. That explains well why ancient Russian must take it for the purpose of beefing up each time they went hunting.

However, the schizandra berry health benefits don’t end here. Here are more.

1) It can improve decreased vision, enhance impaired hearing, improve lung health, relieve respiratory diseases like chronic cough and respiratory infections, and heal eczema and hives;

2) It promotes detoxification function of liver, protects the liver from damage of the respiratory tract by accelerating the metabolic rate of acetaminophen and reducing GSH depletion, and promotes the regeneration and reorganization of damaged liver cells;

3) It has good anti-inflammatory effect and activates the metabolism in order to facilitate the repair of synthesis rate of damaged liver cells. So, it helps the regeneration and reproduction of the impaired liver cell;

4) It can strengthen the body’s immune system, help people develop immunity to various diseases, and restore energy. Schisandra is one of the most effective plant based adaptogens, which can improve intelligence, stamina, sensory functions, and resistance to stress force. In short, it can help the body to withstand stress factors, such as cold, heat, noise, emotional overload and the like. So, it helps improve performance, enhance endurance and reduce fatigue;

5) Schisandrin B and schisanhenol have anti-oxidant effect, which can scavenge free radicals and inhibit the formation of lipid peroxidation. In other words, it can delay aging.

Sample schisandra recipes on herbal remedies

The “Chinese Pharmacopoeia” reveals that it is sour, sweet in flavor and warm in nature. It goes to lung, heart, and kidney. Basic functions are astringing lung Qi, stopping diarrhea, enhancing Qi while nourishing fluid, tonifying kidney, and calming the heart. Main schizandra uses and indications include chronic cough, deficiency-type asthma, nocturnal emission, enuresis, frequent urination, chronic diarrhea, spontaneous sweating, night sweats, thirst due to fluid loss, shortness of breath accompanied with feeble pulse, diabetes caused by internal heat, heart palpitations and insomnia. Recommended schizandra berry dosage is from 1.5 to 6g in decoction. In addition, you can buy it in the forms of schizandra berry tea, extract, supplement, powder, capsules, tincture,

1) Wu Wei Xi Xin Tang from Ji Feng Pu Ji Fang (Universal-Relief Prescriptions from Jifeng). It is combined with Bai Fu Ling (White Poria cocos), Gan Cao (Licorice Root), and Xi Xin (Herba Asari) to treat coughing incessantly;

2) Wu Wei Zi Wan from Wei Sheng Jia Bao Fang (Treasured Family Prescriptions for Health). It is coupled with poppy shell to cure cough;

3) Sheng Mai San from Qian Jin Fang (Thousand golden essential prescriptions). It is formulated with Ren Shen (Ginseng) and Mai Men Dong (Ophiopogon Tuber) to heal the primordial Qi impaired by heat, physical fatigue, shortness of breath, laziness to speak, dry mouth for thirst, constant sweating, and so on;

4) Wu Wei Zi Gao from Yi Xue Ru Men (Gate of Entry to Medical Studies). It is simmered with winter honey to make cream for the treatment of wet dream and collapse;

5) Wu Wei Zi San from Pu Ji Ben Shi Fang (Prescriptions for Universal Relief). It is matched with Wu Zhu Yu (cornel) to treat diarrhea before dawn;

6) Wu Wei Zi Wan from Jing Yan Liang Fang (Experiential Fine Formulas). It is fried and made into pills with vinegar to cure gonorrhea, kidney deficiency, and pains in waist and back.

Schizandra berry side effects and contraindications

Schizandra berry is considered a drug with a little toxicity and taking it orally may cause some certain adverse reactions, e.g. belching, acid reflux, gastric burning sensation, bowel sound, drowsiness, or sometimes allergic reactions. Some individual patients may also see fever, headache, exhaustion, dry mouth, feeling of peculiar smell, urticaria, nausea, vomiting, and so on. Besides, it excites the respiratory system, increases the respiratory rate, and lowers blood pressure.

Nevertheless, generally the toxicity and side effects of schizandra is less obvious. Even so, long-term use of it is not recommended.

Black Striped Snake (Wu Shao She)

wu-shao-sheThe edible and medicinal value of black striped snake, also known as Zaocys or Wu Shao She in Pinyin, has been detailed in the “Compendium of Materia Medica”, the most complete medical book written by Li Shizhen in Ming Dynasty. Today it amazes the modern people once again with its proven health benefits, especially in the treatment of rheumatism. In fact, a lot of Chinese herbal medicines contains or features this snake for the purpose of curing rheumatic diseases. Besides the dried form, its snake slough is also a good ingredient in making medicinal liquor.

What is black striped snake?

This Chinese herb refers to the dry body of Zaocys dhumnades (Cantor), a species in the family Colubridae. It is mostly captured in summer and fall. And then it should be peeled, gutted, coiled, and dried. Medicinally it is used raw or prepared with wine. And it is commonly known as Chinese rat snake too.

As a large non-poisonous snake, it is widely distributed in China. And this indigenous species has not yet been found in other countries. A full grown Zaocys size reaches 2 meters long, with back colors of greenish brown, reddish brown, and black brown. They have two distinct black lines running through the body. But these lines will be gradually hidden when they are fully grown. The habitat is hilly areas. They mainly feed on frogs, lizards, fish, rodents, and so on. Currently the outdoor survival number of Zaocys is greatly reduced due to habitat destruction and hunting by human beings. Because of its fast growth, strong adaptability, good disease resistance, and great demand in the market, they are suitable for artificial breeding. The female snake lays 7 to 30 eggs each time and the incubation period ranges from 45 to 50 days.

It contains 17 kinds of amino acids, such as lysine, leucine, glutamic acid, alanine, cystine and others. Besides, it still contains Fructose 1,6-bisphosphatase, tropomyosin and so on.

Black striped snake health benefits

Nowadays the supply of Zaocys falls short of demand for some obvious reasons. One of pressing reason is the increasing population of patients who are suffering from cerebrovascular disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and hemiplegic paralysis since we are entering a society plagued by the aging problem. As far as TCM is concerned, this is an essential ingredient in the treatment of stroke and hemiplegia since it is good at dispelling and searching for the pathogenic wind. As a result, many Zaocys-based Chinese patent medicines, typifying by Huatuo Zaizao pills, are developed by medium and small pharmaceutical companies in China.

In TCM, snakes, e.g. Zaocys, Agkistrodon, and Bungarus, are believed with cursorial medicinal properties. Therefore, they are especially suitable for chronic stagnation of wind-toxicity. However, they show a different degree of healing power in this regard. Among them, the most powerful one is Bungarus, followed by Agkistrodon and Zaocys. In addition, both Agkistrodon and Bungarus are toxic and partially warm and dry. In comparison, Zaocys is neutral, non-toxic, and mild in nature.

Modern pharmacological actions of Zaocys

1) Its decoction and alcohol extract is anti-inflammatory, sedative and analgesic;
2) Its serum can serve as an antivenin to agkistrodon acutus venom.

Sample Zaocys recipes on herbal remedies

The “Chinese Pharmacopoeia” thinks that it is sweet in flavor and neutral in nature. It involves in liver channel. Primary functions include dispelling wind, dredging collaterals, and relieving convulsion. Essential black striped snake uses and indications are rheumatism, chronic arthralgia, numbness, spasm, drooping mouth and eyes caused by stroke, hemiplegia, convulsions, tetanus, leprosy, scabies, malignant sore, and scrofula. Recommended dosage is from 9 to 12 grams in decoction.

1) Wu She Wan from Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (Taiping Holy Prescriptions for Universal Relief). It is combined with Quan Xie (Scorpion), Tian Nan Xing (Arisaema), Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae), etc. to treat weakness, numbness, and spasm of limbs;

2) Wu She Jiu from Ben Cao Gang Mu (the “Compendium of Materia Medica”). It is used along to make wine to cure chronic arthralgia, paralysis, spasm, and pain;

3) Wu She San from Wei Sheng Jia Bao Fang (Treasured Family Prescriptions for Health). It is formulated with She Xiang (Musk), Zao Jia (Chinese honey locust), etc. to heal pediatric acute and chronic convulsions;

4) Ding Ming San from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It is often equipped with Qi She (Agkistrodon) and Wu Gong (centipedes) to treat convulsions and spasms due to tetanus;

5) Wu She Wan from Mi Chuan Da Ma Feng (Esoteric Leprosy Prescriptions). It works with Bai Fu Zi (Typhonium Rhizome), Da Feng Zi (Hydnocarpus anthelmintica), Bai Zhi (Angelica Root), etc. to cure leprosy and scabies;

6) San Wei Wu She San from the “Complete Record of Holy Benevolence”. It is coupled with Zhi Ke (Fructus Aurantii) and He Ye (Lotus Leaf) to heal dry and wet ringworm.

Black stripe snake side effects and contraindications

Black striped snake may cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and other adverse reactions in some individuals after it is taken orally. TCM wise, avoid it in the case of blood deficiency causing wind.

Chinese Plum (Wu Mei)

wu-meiChinese plum, also known as Prunus mume fruit and Japanese apricot, is a popular fruit. And I don’t think many of you are aware that it is also a Chinese herbal medicine, which is called Wu Mei in Pinyin. As a matter of fact, it has long been there and deserves a position in the world of TCM thanks to its amazing medicinal properties. Just like any other seasonal fruits, mume fruit is no exception. In order to help better preserve it, people come up with many ways, of which drying and then sealing is the most popular and simplest method. Since then many people like to use it to make cold drink or keep them handy as snack.

What is Chinese plum?

Medicinally it refers to the nearly ripe fruits of Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc. This is a species in the family Rosaceae. Other common names include ume, meizi, maesil, mume, umeboshi, Mume fruit, Black Plum, Fructus Mume, Ume Plum Fruit, and more. In China it is primarily produced in Zhejiang, Fujian, and Yunnan. The fruits are collected in summer when they are nearly ripe. And then they are baked at a low temp and covered tightly until they are wrinkled and black. Medicinally it is used pit-removed, raw or carbonized by stir-frying.

Prunus mume tree is a member in the Armeniaca part of the genus Prunus. It is such a distinct tree species because it is between apricot and the plum trees. However, botanically it is considered much closer to the apricot rather than the plum even though it is named after it. This is a small deciduous tree that can be up to 10 meters high, with pale gray bark, slender twigs, alternate leaves, elliptic ovate blade, white or pink aromatic flowers, and nearly spherical fruits. Its flowers (meihua) are known to the west as “plum blossom” or “flowering plum.” This flower is favored by many people and given special meanings in poems because of its early blossom and defying snow.

And here it is the nutrition facts of this fruit. It contains citric acid, malic acid, oxalic acid, succinic acid, and fumaric acid. The total acids, mainly the first two, account for about 4% to 5.5%. And it still contains 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde, which is colorless oil and basically composed of volatile components like terpinen-4-ol 3.97%, benzyl alcohol 3.97%, and hexadecanoic acid 4.55 %. The seeds contain amygdalin. And another report also says that it contains picric acid and superoxide dismutase (SOD).

Modern pharmacological actions of Chinese plums decoction

1) It is proved with inhibition on a variety of pathogenic bacteria and skin fungi in vitro;
2) It can inhibit the movement of isolated rabbit intestine;
3) It has mild contraction to the gallbladder, which can promote the bile secretion;
4) In vitro it inhibits roundworms;
5) It antagonizes milk-induced allergic reaction and histamine shock. But it is with no antagonism to histamine-induced asthma;
6) It can enhance immune function.

Chinese plum benefits

As one of popular fruits, it can be found everywhere in China, in particular in south of the Yangtze River. Each of them is about the size of a lychee, with a slight yellow color. Since it tastes sweet and mixes with a sour tinge, it is often served as a good appetizer. But there is a lot more to come yet. Here are its top 8 health benefits.

1) Protecting the stomach. It sterilizes and prevents the food from corruption in the stomach;

2) Relieving constipation. The malic acid directs proper amount of water to the large intestine and help a bowel movement;

3) Whetting appetite. Long-term loss of appetite is the result of dysfunction of some organs, like stomach and large intestine. In addition, illness can cause a loss of appetite as well. But you need to eat more to help a quick recovery. So, eating a plum a day can make a difference to your appetite problems;

3) Prevent getting older. Aging stands in the way of a true longevity. Eating plum stimulates the secretion of parotid gland hormone, which can prevent aging;

4) Purifying blood. Modern people love refined foods, such as refined grains, refined white bread, refined white flour pasta, refined sugar, chemical seasonings and meats. Unfortunately these foods may cause a dramatic increase of buildup of toxins in blood. As time goes by, the deterioration of blood circulation will lead to the occurrence of acid. Eating a plum a day can help clean the blood to normalize the blood flow, and get rid of excess acid;

5) Dealing with pregnancy nausea and vomiting. This is quite normal that many pregnant women desire sour food instead of greasy foods and sweets. This is because when women get pregnant their blood acidity becomes a little higher, followed by reduced energy and the stomach and liver function. When pregnant women’s body is acidic, something bad, like loose teeth and volatile moods, will just come. And the plum seems to be helpful in this regard;

6) Easing the symptoms of hangovers. It can bring relief to bad breath and hangover. Sucking down a few extra drinks is quite common when celebrating the festive season. But the hangover is absolutely unpleasant when you wake up the following day. If you feel splitting headache, Prunus mume can be a great comfort.

7) Increasing energy. When blood is purified, the metabolism will be thus enhanced and the body’s energy restored naturally. Citric acid helps in the absorption of vitamins and enzymes, let alone prevents disease and reduces fatigue.

8) Weight loss. It is edible and available in the forms of dried plums, sweet plum, salted plums, and others. It can help lose weight because its dietary fiber contains water-soluble dietary fiber and insoluble fiber. The advantage of water-soluble dietary fiber is that it takes a long time to be digested. That’s to say, it takes longer time to feel hungry again after that the mume has been consumed. The strength of water-insoluble dietary fiber is its chewy nature, which can give people the illusory feeling of a full stomach actually it isn’t. So, it can prevent people from binge. What’s more, water-insoluble dietary fiber not only absorbs water to make people feel full, but also promote the body’s detoxifying ability.

Sample Chinese preserved plums recipes on herbal remedies

The “Chinese Pharmacopoeia” reports that it is sour in flavor and astringent and neutral in nature. It goes to meridians of liver, spleen, lung, and large intestine. Normal functions include astringing the lung, astringing intestine to stop diarrhea, promoting the secretion of saliva or body fluid, and calming ascaris. Basic Chinese plum uses and indications are chronic cough due to lung deficiency, lingering dysentery caused by lubricating intestines, deficient diabetes, vomiting and abdominal pain caused by ascaris, and ascariasis. Recommended dosage is from 6 to 12 grams. And other available related products include Chinese plum wine, sauce, candy, extract, juice, jam, powder, jelly, and more.

1) Wu Mei Wan from Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (Taiping Holy Prescriptions for Universal Relief). It is coupled with Huang Lian (Coptis Root) to treat epidemic diarrhea and loss of appetite;

2) Wu Mei Wan from Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Pathogenic Diseases). It is combined with Xi Xin (Herba Asari), Gan Jiang (Dried Ginger Root), Dang Gui (Dong Quai), Fu Zi (Aconite), Ren Shen (Ginseng), etc. to cure ascariasis of biliary tract and protracted dysentery;

3) Yi Fu San from Shi Yi De Xiao Fang (Effective Formulas from Generations of Physicians). It is formulated with poppy capsules, almonds, etc. to heal deficiency-type chronic cough with little phlegm or dry cough with no phlegm;

4) Gu Chang Wan from Zheng Zhi Zhun Sheng (The Level-line of Patterns & Treatment). It is matched with poppy capsules, He Zi (Haritaki Fruit), etc. to treat chronic diarrhea or dysentery;

5) Yu Quan San from Shen Shi Zun Sheng Shu (Master Shen’s Writings on Respecting Life). It is equipped with Tian Hua Fen (Trichosanthes Root), Mai Men Dong (Ophiopogon Tuber), ginseng, etc. to heal diabetes due to deficiency heat.

Chinese plum side effects and contraindications

Chinese plum is edible. But it shouldn’t be used in the following situations:

1) Patients who are with excessive pathogen;
2) Patients who are with colds and fever. It is inadvisable to be eaten by cold sufferers, in particular accompanied by cough, excessive phlegm, stuffy feeling in chest and other symptoms;
3) Patients of bacillary dysentery and the initial stage of enteritis. Or it will make it worse;
4) Pre and postnatal women;
5) Women during normal menstrual period;
6) Children. Children’s bodies are basically at the growth stage. Their gastric mucosa is far from developed to resist the corrosion from consuming too many acidic Prunus mume fruits.

Flying Squirrel Droppings (Wu Ling Zhi)

wu-ling-zhiYou might think you have known everything about the standard ways of using animal dung, right? But apparently you are not. For example, do you know flying squirrel droppings, often found in your eves or attic, can be used as a Chinese medicine called Wu Ling Zhi for a variety of illness, in particular abdominal pain? Indeed, what this crap can do to you is somewhat beyond your imagination. In some way it works just like ibuprofen does. No wonder it is frequently used in the treatment of disorders that affect the female reproductive system, such as menstrual cramps, uterine bleeding, abdominal pain after childbirth, and more. By the way, it is to be regretted that you can’t get it if you happen to live in the United States since it is banned there currently.

What are flying squirrel droppings?

Medicinally it refers especially to the droppings of Trogopterus xanthipes Milne-Edwards, an animal species also called the complex-toothed flying squirrel in the family Petauristidae. In addition, the dried droppings of Pteromys volans L. can be used occasionally the same way. So, it is also commonly known as Trogopterus Dung, Feces Trogopterori Seu Pteromi, Excrementum Trogopteri seu Pteromi, Trogopteri excrementum, and so on. In China it is basically produced in Hebei, Shanxi, and Gansu. When used as a medicine it can be harvested throughout the year and then dried in the sun before the impurities have been removed. Based on how it looks, it can be categorized into 2 major types – block and granule. The former is condensed by many fecal pellets and believed with better medicinal properties while the latter is loose and rice-shaped and with less quality. Medicinally it is used raw or roasted with vinegar or wine.

The complex-toothed flying squirrel, just as its name implies, is characterized by its teeth, except that it is no different to other flying squirrels. Besides, additional features of it include black hair clustered together at the lower side of the ear, grey-brown fur, slightly red face and tail, and approximately 30 cm body and 30 cm tail. It homes and lays its eggs in cliffs that are about 30 meters. It is active during the night to gather branches, fruits, and nuts and by day it just sleeps.

It contains pyrocatechol, benzoic acid, 3-caren-9,10-dicarboxylic acid, uracil, wulingzhic acid, m-hydroxybenzoic acid, protocatechuic acid, hypoxanthine, allantoin, L-tyrosine, 3-O-cis-p-coumaroyltormentic acid, 3-O-trans-p-coumaroyltormentic acid, 2α-hydroxyursolic acid, pomolic acid, jacoumaric acid, ursolic acid, tormentic acid, euscaphic acid, masolinic acid, serratagenic acid, goreishic acid, and so on.

Flying squirrel feces health benefits

This herb can be used for bleeding due to blood stasis or failure of blood to circulate in the vessels, e.g. metrorrhagia and metrostaxis, too frequent and prolonged copious menses, purple blood clots during menstruation, and stabbing pain in the lower abdomen. It is fried, ground, and taken along with warm wine or combined with other herbs to cater to the specific condition.

There are many trogopterus-dung based formulas, typified by Shi Xiao San, which literally means “cannot help laughing powder.” This famous prescription, consisting of flying squirrel droppings and Pu Huang (cattails), is mainly designed for pains caused by stasis of blood. Clinically these 2 ingredients are commonly used in the treatment of coronary heart disease and angina pectoris. Today the related pharmacological studies confirmed that the former ingredient could retard the clotting of blood and increase coronary blood flow while the latter ingredient could expand coronary artery, lower lipid, and acceleration velocity. As a result, the combination of them is effective for coronary heart disease and angina pectoris. Since it is able to remove all the symptoms unconsciously and make the patient smile again soon, the ancient named it as “Shi Xiao San.”

Modern pharmacological actions

1) It inhibits platelet aggregation, reduces blood viscosity, and lowers plasma viscosity;
2) It reduces myocardial oxygen consumption;
3) It improves tolerance of hypoxia, cold and high temperature;
4) It relieves muscle spasm;
5) It enhances normal immune function and improves experimental microcirculation;
6) It has different degrees of inhibition on a variety of skin fungi;
7) It inhibits Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Sample trogopterus dung recipes on herbal remedies

The Chinese Materia Medica documents that it is bitter, sweet in flavor and warm in nature. It goes to meridians of liver and spleen. Essential functions are promoting blood circulation to arrest pain, Getting rid of stasis to stop bleeding, removing infantile malnutrition, and relieving internal heat or fever. Fundamental trogopterus dung uses and indications include epigastric pain, amenorrhea, postpartum abdominal pain caused by blood stasis, uterine bleeding, malnutrition in children, and bits by snake, scorpion, and centipede. Recommended dosage is from 5 to 10 grams in decoction, pills, and powder.

1) Zi Jin Wan from Chan Ru Ji Yan Fang (Collection of Effective Recipes for Puerpera). It is coupled with cattails to treat lochia that keeps stopping and starting, lower back pain, stabbing pain in lower abdomen, chills and fever, no appetite accompanied with headache, and so on;

2) Ling Zhi San from Yong Lei Qian Fang (Everlasting Categorization of Seal Formulas). It is used alone to cure men’s spleen accumulation and pain due to disorder of the vital energy or women’s pains caused by vaginal bleeding;

3) Jie Gu Dan from Ru Men Shi Qin (Confucians’ Duties to Serve Their Parents). It is combined with Xiao Hui Xiang (Fennel Seed) and Ru Xiang (Frankincense) to heal injury and set a broken bone;

4) Zhou Fei Wan from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It is formulated with Bai Zi Ren (Arborvitae Seeds), Hu Tao Ren (Walnut Nut), and Mu Xiang (Costus) to treat lung distension.

Flying squirrel poop side effects and contraindications

Flying squirrel droppings are non-toxic. However, it may cause stomach discomfort in some patients even though the conventional dose of decoction is taken. And slightly larger doses may cause stomach pain response too. It was documented in classic theories that it is against ginseng. That’s to say, it can’t be served together with ginseng. It shouldn’t be used in pregnant women and patient with a bleeding tendency. In addition, it is inadvisable to use it as daily health supplement.

But today the view of trogopterus dung combining with ginseng might cause poisoning has been challenged by the fact and evidence of modern clinical applications. As a matter of fact, this pairing is good for the treatment of gastric ulcer, chronic gastritis, ulcer in the duodenum, and chronic colitis. More importantly, so far no single case was reported with any toxic and adverse effects. And satisfactory results were also obtained when they were used together to treat coronary heart disease and tumors. What’s more, clinically flying squirrel droppings combining with Dang Shen (Codonopsis) is still used in treating chronic bronchitis, gynecological bleeding, irregular menstruation, or fractures.