English: Amber

Chinese: 琥珀

Parts used: Fossilized tree resin

TCM category: Herbs that anchor and calm the Spirit

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Bladder Heart Liver

Scientific name: Amber

Other names: Pinus, Resinite, Succinum

Use of Hu Po (amber) 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: Collect the amber and remove impurities

Dosage: 1.5-3g

Main actions according to TCM*: Calms the Mind, Clears Blood Stagnation and unblocks menses. Promotes urination. Reduces swelling and promotes healing

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Hu Po may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Palpitations Anxiety Excessive dreams Insomnia Forgetfulness Seizures Convulsions in children Amenorrhea Blood in urine Coronary artery disease Painful urination Urinary retention Sores Carbuncles Skin ulceration Genital pain Genital swelling Tremors

Contraindications*: Contradicted for patients with Yin Deficiency and Interior Heat/Fire. It should only be used for these patterns with Blood Stagnation symptoms.

Common TCM formulas in which Hu Po is used*

Zhi Bao Dan

Source date: 1075

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat. Opens the sensory orifices. Resolves toxicity. Transforms Phlegm .

Conditions targeted*: Acute encephalitisAcute meningitis and others

Hu Po is an assistant ingredient in Zhi Bao Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Zhi Bao Dan, Hu Po sedates the Heart and calm the Mind, resolving the irritability and impairment of speech and consciousness.

Read more about Zhi Bao Dan

Key TCM concepts behind Hu Po's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Hu Po belongs to the 'Herbs that anchor and calm the Spirit' category. These herbs are substances that tranquilize the Mind and treat symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, anxiety or insomnia. They tend to have sedative properties by weighing the Qi downwards and should generally be used for a limited time only.

Furthermore Hu Po is Neutral in nature. This means that Hu Po typically doesn't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of Hu Po means that you don't have to worry about that!

Hu Po also tastes Sweet. 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. Sweet ingredients like Hu Po tends to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Hu Po is thought to target the Bladder, the Heart and the Liver. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. 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 Liver 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.