English: Areca nuts

Chinese: 槟榔

Parts used: Dried ripe seed

TCM category: Herbs that expel parasites

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Large intestine Stomach

Scientific name: Areca catechu

Other names: Areca palm nut, Betel palm nut, Indian nut, Pinang palm nut

Use of Bing Lang (areca nuts) 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, soak in water, cut in thin slices and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 10g

Main actions according to TCM*: Destroys parasites. Regulates Qi circulation. Promotes urination.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Bing Lang may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Intestinal parasites Taeniasis Ascariasis Fasciolopsiasis Abdominal pain Diarrhea Edema Malaria

Common TCM formulas in which Bing Lang is used*

Si Mo Tang

Source date: 1253 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Promotes the movement of Qi. Directs rebellious Qi downward. Expands the chest and dissipates clumping.

Conditions targeted*: Bronchial asthmaEmphysema and others

Bing Lang is an assistant ingredient in Si Mo Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Si Mo Tang, Bing Lang strongly promotes the downward movement of Qi, breaks up Stagnation and clumping and thereby eliminates the irritable, stifling, and full sensations

Read more about Si Mo Tang

Wu Yao Tang

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Pacifies the Liver. Moves Qi. Stops pain. Nourishes Liver Blood. Eliminates Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease and others

In Wu Yao Tang, Bing Lang pacifies the Liver, move Qi, eliminate Stagnation and stop pain

Read more about Wu Yao Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Bing Lang's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Bing Lang belongs to the 'Herbs that expel parasites' category. Herbs in this category are used to treat roundworms, tapeworm, hookworm and other intestinal parasites. In most cases, these herbs should be combined with other herbs to assist their action such as 'Purgative herbs that drain downward' or Qi tonics. Typically these herbs should only be prescribed for a short period as they often have some level of toxicity.

Furthermore Bing Lang is Warm in nature. This means that Bing Lang 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 Bing Lang can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Bing Lang 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 Bing Lang 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 Bing Lang is thought to target the Large intestine and the Stomach. In TCM the Large Intestine receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.

Research on Bing Lang

Areca catechu has potential for the treatment of many diseases, especially parasitic diseases, digestive function disorders, and depression.1

Sources:

1. Peng W, Liu YJ, Wu N, Sun T, He XY, Gao YX, Wu CJ. (2015). Areca catechu L. (Arecaceae): a review of its traditional uses, botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology. J Ethnopharmacol , 22;164:340-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.02.010.