Thanks to their significant effect in treating kidney Yang deficiency, plantain seeds (Che Qian Zi) are one of herbs frequently used in Chinese medicine practices. If you are interested in knowing more about this amazing herb, read on and you will find all the answers to questions like what is plantain seed? What are its primary functions? How should you take it to maximize the benefits?
What are plantain seeds?
It refers to the dried mature seeds of psyllium (Che Qian Cao), including Plantago asiatica L. or P. depressa Willd. Actually the former is found everywhere in China, and the latter grows mainly in Northern provinces. The medicinal seeds are usually collected in summer and autumn when they are ripe. The typical process is harvesting the clusters, drying in the sun, rubbing the fruits out with the hands, and removing the impurities. Plantain seed is usually used in the forms of either unprocessed or stir-fried with salt-water.
The genuine plantain seeds are in the shapes of oval, and irregular oblong or triangular-shaped oblong. It is slight flat, about 2mm long and 1mm wide. The surface color is from yellowish brown to dark brown, with fine wrinkles. Off-white concave dot umbilici are usually seen on one side. Besides, it is kind of hard, slightly odorous, and tasteless.
What is plantain seed used for?
In the practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is considered sweet, and slightly cold in nature. And it goes to four meridians like liver, kidney, lung, and small intestine. Its main functions are to clear heat, promote urination, eliminate dampness to check diarrhea, clear the eyes, and expel phlegm. Its primary uses and indications are difficult urination, morbid vaginal discharge, stranguria with turbid discharge, edema, tumidness, diarrhea induced by summer-heat and damp, bloodshot eyes, slight corneal opacity, and asthma due to phlegm-heat stasis. Usual dosage is from 9 to 15 grams based on the diagnosis.
Modern medical research
Now modern medical research has figured out its chemical composition – it contains lymphatic temperament, succinic acid, flavanone glycosides, Planterolic acid, Plantaginin, Adenine or 6-Aminopurine, Plantenolic acid, choline, Catalpol, fatty oil, vitamins A, B, and so on.
This herb has a significant diuretic effect. It can also promote the respiratory mucus secretion and dilute the mucus. As a result, it is a great expectorant too. Moreover, it inhibits a variety of bacteria and Staphylococcus. In addition, its extract is able to prevent the formation of kidney stones too.
Related Chinese herbal recipes
Ba Zheng San
Ba zheng San, from Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Formulas of the Peaceful Benevolent Dispensary), is commonly used for treatments of dribbling urination or difficulty and pain in micturition due to downward flow of damp-heat to bladder. This is because sweet, cold plantain seeds are good at facilitating the circulation of waterways, and clearing heat accumulation in bladder. Other major herbs are Mu Tong (Akebia Caulis), Hua Shi (Talcum Powder), Qu Mai (Dianthus), and so on.
Ji sheng Shen Qi Wan
Ji Sheng Shen Qi Wan, from Ji sheng fang (Formulas to Aid the Living), is designed for kidney deficiency due to long time disease, lumbar heaviness, and pedal edema. Other main herbs are Huai Niu Xi (Achyranthes Root), Shu Di Huang (Rehmannia, Chinese Foxglove Root), Shan Zhu Yu (Asiatic Cornelian Cherry Fruit), Rou Gui (Dried Cinnamon Bark), and more.
Che Qian Zi San
This formula is from Yang Shi Jia Cang Fang (Yang’s Family Heritage Formulas). It treats diarrhea induced by summer-heat and damp. Other herbs combined with are Xiang Ru (Aromatic Madder), Fu Ling (Poria, China Root), and Zhu Ling (Polyporus Sclerotium).
Zhu Jing Wan
Zhu Jing Wan, from Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (Taiping Holy Prescriptions for Universal Relief), is good for dim-sighted sufferers because of Yin deficiency in liver and kidney. Other primary herbs are Shu Di Huang (Rehmannia, Chinese Foxglove Root), and Tu Si Zi (Chinese Dodder Seeds).
Shan Yao Che Qian Zi Tang
This prescription, from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence), is the cure for xerophthalmia and ophthalmodynia due to liver heat. Other basic herbs are Jue Ming Zi (Cao Jue Ming, Foetid Cassia Seeds), Qing Xiang Zi (Celosia Seeds), Huang Lian (Coptis Rhizome), and more.
Plantain seeds’ potential side effects and contraindications
Plantain seeds (Che Qian Zi) side effects do exist. From the point of TCM view, this herb may lead to the impairment of yin. Hence, it should be used with care in cases of over tiredness, internal injury, sinking of Yang Qi, night emission because of kidney deficiency, and no syndrome of damp-heat.