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Abalone shells

Chinese: 石决明

Pinyin: Shí Jué Míng

Parts used: Shell

TCM category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Salty

Organ affinity: Kidney Liver Lung

Scientific name: Haliotis diversicolor, Holiotis discus hannai, Haliotis ovina, Haliotis ruber, Haliotis asinina or Haliotis laevigata

Use of abalone shells (Shi Jue Ming) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove the meat, wash the shell, dry it and crush it

Dosage: 9 - 30 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Heat and calms ascending Liver Yang. Clears Liver Heat that is obstructing the vision.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which abalone shells may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Headache Dizziness Vertigo Blurred vision Bloodshot eyes Photophobia

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those without true Heat signs.

Common TCM formulas in which abalone shells (Shi Jue Ming) are used*

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Conditions targeted*: InsomniaHeadache and others

Shi Jue Ming is a deputy ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, Shi Jue Ming is heavy and salty. Similar to other seashells, it can anchor the rising Yang and calm the Liver. It is useful for treating headaches and dizziness due to Liver Yang rising. It is because it can guide Blood downward from the head by acting on Yang Qi

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang

Source date: the Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Yin. Nourishes Blood. Calms the Liver. Extinguishes Wind.

Conditions targeted*: EncephalitisMeningitis and others

Shi Jue Ming is an assistant ingredient in E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang, Shi Jue Ming sedates the rising Yang and extinguishes Wind.

Read more about E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang

Key TCM concepts behind abalone shells (Shi Jue Ming)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), abalone shells are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors' category. These herbs are used to treat so-called 'hyperactive Liver Yang'. Concretely this translates into high blood pressure as well as seizures, spasms, convulsions, dizziness and vertigo. These herbs often seem to have a powerful antispasmodic effect on the nervous system.

Furthermore abalone shells are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that abalone shells typically help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition abalone shells can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Abalone shells also taste Salty. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Salty ingredients like abalone shells tend to have a draining effect in the body because they clear accumulations, remove Phlegm and soften hard lumps.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such abalone shells are thought to target the Kidney, the Liver and the Lung. According to TCM, the Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.