Bamboo Silica (Tabasheer, Tian Zhu Huang)

TabashirBamboo silica is also known as tabasheer or Tian Zhu Huang in Chinese (literally “Heavenly Bamboo Yellow”). Besides, it is commonly referred to as the “calculus in the body of bamboo plants.” When used as Chinese herbal medicine, it clears heat, sweep phlegm, cool heart, and calm the frightened. Hence, clinically it treats fever, coma and delirium, convulsions, epilepsy, rheumatism, limb numbness, whooping cough, excessive vaginal discharge, stomach trouble, acne, and so on. Now modern medicine has found that it is one of the richest natural sources of organic silica, which is responsible for the health of nails, tendons, skin, hair, bones, and ligaments in human body. So, is bamboo silica safe and really good for hair growth?

What is bamboo silica?

Medicinally it refers to the dried siliceous resin found in the nodes of some species in the family Poaceae, mainly from Bambusa textilis McClure and Schizostachyum chinense Rendle. Other common names of it include bamboo sap, tabashir, Siliceous Secretions of Bamboo, banslochan, Concretio Silicea Bambusae, Tabasheer, bamboo manna, bamboo tears, bamboo powder, Tabashir silica, karpoor vans (bamboo camphor), Tvaksheera (bark milk in Sanskrit), vans-sharkar (bamboo sugar), and the like. In China it is mainly produced in provinces of Yunnan, Guangdong, and Guangxi. It is generally harvested in autumn and winter by cutting the stems open. Medicinally it is generally used raw.

The naturally occurring one is quite rare since this clotted bulk is mainly formed from the bleeding sap stored in the nodal joints of Bambusa textilis McClure due to the parasitic wasp bites. Now most of them are produced by setting fire to the forest in order to let the sudden heat force and solidify the fresh sap in the notes.

Tabasheer is in the shapes of irregular polygonal blocks or flakes. Surface is white, gray or with a bluish tint. It is light, crisp, and easily broken. Section is bright, slightly mealy, and with slippery feeling when touching with hands. It is strongly absorbent but insoluble in water. When placed in water, it produces bubbles. It is sweet, sticky, and cool when licking with tongue. And the high-quality one is drier, bigger, yellowish white, bright, and highly absorbent.

2 polysaccharides, SB-1 and SB-2, can be isolated from The zymotic fluid of tabasheer’s mycelium; other ingredients isolated from the soluble components include proteases, amylase, D-mannitol, aspartic acid, threonine, serine, glutamic acid, glycine, alanine, cystine, valine, methionine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, lysine, γ-amino butyric acid, tyrosine, and small amount of cysteine; ingredients isolated from the stroma are hypocrellin A, B, C, mannitol, stearic acid, and shiraiachrome A, B, C.

Bamboo silica benefits

Does bamboo silica really work? When it comes to the sources of naturally occurring, organic silica, horsetail grass and bamboo are the most known two. From the eyes of Chinese, bamboo shoots are more than just a food since eating them has a long history there. In fact they have become a delicious dish on the table since the Shang Dynasty, about thousands of years ago. Now modern scientific findings seem provide a proven reason – the amount of silica contained in bamboo are about 10 times of that of horsetail herb. If you are familiar with horsetail grass, you will know that quite well what means behind that figure. No wonder Enerex Bamboo Silica, a pure silica supplement extracted from its shoots, is so popular these days for hair growth, healthy joint, and skin health.

As a matter of fact, another 2 commonly used Chinese herbs, Zhu Ru (Bamboo Shavings) and Zhu Li (Succus Bambusae), are associated with tabasheer. Here are their functions in common. All of the three are of cold nature and treat phlegm-heat induced cough and asthma by clearing heat and dissipating phlegm. In addition, both Succus Bambusae and tabasheer can be used in the treatment of fever or phlegm-heat induced infantile convulsions, epilepsy, stroke, coma, gurgling with sputum in throat since it possesses the calming properties. So, what is the difference between them? First and foremost, tabasheer has preferable calming power, which makes it do a better job in treating convulsions in children and coma due to high heat; besides, since Succus Bambusae is of cold, slippery nature and with better ability of clearing heat and eliminating phlegm, it is mostly used in the adult’s epilepsy, stroke, and lung-heat induced stubborn sticky phlegm that is hard to cough up; last but not least, it is good at clearing heart heat to relieve restlessness. As a result, it is used more in the treatment of irritability and insomnia caused by phlegm heat disturbing the heart.

Modern pharmacology

1) Hypocrellin B has significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. It is superior to indomethacin when it comes to raising the threshold of pain;
2) Hypocrellin A has a good inhibition on Gram-positive bacteria. And it has significant photodynamic therapy on cultured human cancer cells and transplanted solid tumors in mice.

Sample recipes on herbal remedies

The Chinese Pharmacopoeia tends to believe that it is sweet in flavor and cold in nature. It goes to meridians of heart and liver. Most important functions are clearing away heat, eliminating phlegm, expelling heart heat, and arresting convulsion. Principal bamboo silica uses and indications include unconsciousness due to heat illness, stroke, epilepsy, baby night cry, convulsions, and phlegm-heat epilepsy. Recommended bamboo silica dosage is from 3 to 9 grams in pills and powder. Apart from that, it is also made into a great deal of bamboo silica products, such as extract, capsules, pills, silica liquid, shampoo, and the like.

1) Bao Long Wan from Xiao Er Yao Zheng Zhi Jue (Key to the Therapeutics of Children’s Diseases). It is formulated with She Xiang (Deer Musk), Dan Nan Xing (Arisaema Cum Bile), Chen Sha (cinnabar), etc. to treat infantile convulsions due to phlegm-heat;

2) Li Jing Wan from Key to the Therapeutics of Children’s Diseases. It is combined with Qing Dai (Indigo), Qing Fen (Calomel), and Qian Niu Zi (Morning Glory Seed) to cure infantile acute convulsions;

3) Tian Zhu Huang San from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It is matched with Chuan Xiong (lovage) and Fang Ji (Stephania Tetrandra) to heal epistaxis;

4) Qing Fei Hua Tan Tang from the prescriptions of Dr. Guo Zhongyuan. It is joined with Ban Lan Gen (Isatis Root), Huang Qin (Scutellaria Baicalensis), Zhe Bei Mu (Fritillaria Bulb), Yuan Shen (radix scrophulariae), etc. to treat chronic bronchitis;

5) Feng Long Tang from the prescriptions of Dr. Ding Jinyuan. It is coupled with Lu Feng Fang (Hornets’ Nest), Di Long (Earthworm), Jie Geng (Balloon Flower Rhizome), etc. to cure children with asthma.

Clinical bamboo silica research

a) Tabasheer-based granule has significant effect on the treatment of psoriasis;
b) The ointment made of hypocrellin A, isolated from Hypocrella bambusae, can be applied to female genital lesions and hypertrophic scars. And it has definite therapeutic effect under lights;
c) A spray made of the mixture of hypocrellin A and B can be used in topical treatment of burns. For the early stage of the superficial second-degree burn wounds, it has the advantages of fast film-forming properties, good air permeability, and quick wound healing.

Bamboo silica side effects, drug interactions and contraindications

It shouldn’t be used during pregnancy and in patients with skin diseases like onychomycosis, tinea manuum, etc. And don’t eat radishes and sour and spicy food during the medication. Besides, beware of the adulterants, which have been found in the market in recent years. The adulterants are often doped with minerals that are with no genuine healing power of tabasheer. What’s worse, it may even lead to unexpected adverse reactions.

References

a) Zhong Guo Zhong Yi Yao Xin Xi Za Zhi (Journal of Information on Traditional Chinese Medicine), 2001; 1:47;
b) Zhong Hua Fu Ke Za Zhi Chinese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology), 1984; 1:29;
c) Zhong Cao Yao (Chinese Herbs), 1999; 6:77.

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