English: Acanthopanax rhizomes

Chinese: 刺五加

Parts used: Dried root and rhizome or stem

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Heart Kidney

Scientific name: Acanthopanax senticosus

Other names: Eleutherococcus senticosus, Siberian Ginseng, Devil's bush, Devil's shrub

Use of Ci Wu Jia (acanthopanax rhizomes) 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 impurities, wash, cut, and dry.

Dosage: 9 to 27 g

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies Qi, strengthens the Spleen and the Kidneys Yang. It also anchors the Mind.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ci Wu Jia may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Weakness Fatigue Loss of appetite Knee pain Loin pain Insomnia Dream-disturbed sleep

Contraindications*: Can cause insomnia, arrhythmia, tachycardia and hypertonia

Key TCM concepts behind Ci Wu Jia's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ci Wu Jia belongs to the 'Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Qi tonics are typically sweet and they tend to enter the Spleen and Lungs because these Organs are most involved with the production of Qi.

Furthermore Ci Wu Jia is Warm in nature. This means that Ci Wu Jia tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Ci Wu Jia can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Ci Wu Jia also tastes Bitter and Pungent. 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. Bitter ingredients like Ci Wu Jia tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Pungent ingredients tend to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Ci Wu Jia is thought to target the Spleen, the Heart and the Kidney. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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.