Home > Herb database > Zhu Ru

Bamboo shavings

Chinese: 竹茹

Pinyin: Zhú Rú

Parts used: Dried middle shavings

TCM category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Gallbladder Stomach Lung

Scientific name: Bambusa tuldoides Munro, Sinocalamus beecheyanus or Phyllostachys nigra

Other names: Caulis Bambusae in Taeniam

Use of bamboo shavings (Zhu Ru) 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 bamboo's outer bark, shave very thin stripes and let them dry

Dosage: 4.5 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs. Clears Heat in the Stomach and stops vomiting. Cools the Blood and stops bleeding.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which bamboo shavings may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Restlessness Vomiting Palpitations Insomnia Sputum Coughing Bloody sputum Nosebleed

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used in cases of Spleen Deficiency or cough caused by Cold.

Common TCM formulas in which bamboo shavings (Zhu Ru) are used*

Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang

Source date: Essentials from the Golden Cabinet

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Directs rebellious Qi downward. Stops hiccup. Augments Qi. Clears heat.

Conditions targeted*: Morning sicknessIncomplete pyloric obstruction and others

Zhu Ru is a king ingredient in Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang, Zhu Ru clears Heat, calms the Stomach, and stops hiccup

Read more about Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Hot-Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder heat. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Conditions targeted*: HypertensionAngina and others

Zhu Ru is a deputy ingredient in Wen Dan Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Wen Dan Tang, Zhu Ru enters the Stomach to expel Heat and stop nausea, and the Gallbladder to calm the Mind, release Stagnation, and alleviate irritability.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang

Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang

Source date: Qing Dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and relieves acute conditions of the Gallbladder. Relieves acute Damp-Heat syndromes. Resolves Phlegm. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Conditions targeted*: CholecystitisIcteric hepatitis and others

Zhu Ru is a deputy ingredient in Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang, Zhu Ru drains Heat from the Gallbladder and Stomach and stops the vomiting.

Read more about Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang

Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1852 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Hot Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder Heat. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Zhu Ru is a deputy ingredient in Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang, Zhu Ru enters the Stomach to expel Heat and stop nausea, and the Gallbladder to calm the Mind, release Stagnation, and alleviate irritability.

Read more about Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang

Di Tan Tang

Source date: 1470 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Removes Phlegm. Opens the sensory orifices. Tonifies Qi.

Zhu Ru is an assistant ingredient in Di Tan Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Di Tan Tang, Zhu Ru transforms Phlegm. It is also slightly cooling in nature so that it can balance the warming properties of most of the other ingredients of the formula. 

Read more about Di Tan Tang

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Source date: Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Cools the Liver. Extinguishes Wind. Increases Fluids. Relaxes the sinews.

Conditions targeted*: EncephalitisMeningitis and others

Zhu Ru is an assistant ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, Zhu Ru clears Heat and transforms Phlegm.

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Key TCM concepts behind bamboo shavings (Zhu Ru)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), bamboo shavings are plants that belong to the 'Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough' category. In TCM Phlegm is a condition of Stagnation of Fluids which tends to start in the Spleen and then goes to the Lungs. If this overly accumulates it thickens and becomes pathological Phlegm. Phlegm, being a form of Stagnation, often starts as being Cool and transforms to Hot as the condition progresses. The herbs in this category are Cold in nature so they treat the later stages of the Stagnation: Hot and Dry-Phlegm with symptoms such as cough, goiter or scrofula.

As suggested by its category bamboo shavings are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that bamboo shavings tend to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. 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 bamboo shavings can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Bamboo shavings also taste 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 bamboo shavings tend 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 bamboo shavings are thought to target the Gallbladder, the Stomach and the Lung. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gallbladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. 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. 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.

Use of bamboo shavings (Zhu Ru) as food

Bamboo shavings are also eaten as food.