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Areca peel (Da Fu Pi) in Chinese Medicine

Areca peel

Chinese: 大腹皮

Pinyin: Dà Fù Pí

Parts used: Dried pericarp

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Stomach Large intestine Small intestine

Scientific name: Areca catechu

Use of areca peel (Da Fu Pi) 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 into sections and dry

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Assists in the downward movement of Qi and relieves Food Stagnation. Removes Stagnation of Water by draining downward.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which areca peel may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Sour regurgitation Abdominal bloating Constipation Weakness and edema of legs Oliguria

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those who are weak with Qi Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which areca peel (Da Fu Pi) are used*

Wu Pi Yin

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Reduces edema, diuretic. Regulates and strengthens Spleen Qi.

Conditions targeted*: Pre-eclampsiaProtein-deficiency edema and others

Da Fu Pi is an assistant ingredient in Wu Pi Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Wu Pi Yin, Da Fu Pi works together with Citrus peel (Chen Pi) to eliminate Qi Stagnation since it is said that "if the smooth flow of Qi is reestablished, the Fluids will follow".

Read more about Wu Pi Yin

Key TCM concepts behind areca peel (Da Fu Pi)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), areca peel are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that regulate Qi' category. Herbs in this category typically treat a TCM condition called 'Qi Stagnation'. Concretely it means that Qi is blocked in the body's Organs and Meridians, most typically the Stomach, Liver, and to a lesser extent, the Lungs. In modern medicine terms, Qi Stagnation often translates into psychological consequences such as depression, irritability or mood swings. It's also frequently associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, the development of breast swellings as well as various digestive disorders.

Furthermore areca peel are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that areca peel tend 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 areca peel can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Areca peel also taste 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. Pungent ingredients like areca peel 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 areca peel are thought to target the Spleen, the Stomach, the Large intestine and the Small intestine. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. 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. 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. Like the Stomach, the Small Intestine has a digestive role, extracting the "pure" part of what we injest to the Spleen and the "impure" down to the Large Intestine.