English: Barbat Skullcap herb

Chinese: 半枝莲

Parts used: Aerial portion

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Stomach Liver Lung

Scientific name: Sctutellaria barbata, Scutellariae Barbatae

Other names: Barbated skullcup herb, Bearded scutellaria herb, Barbed skullcap root, Xiang Tian Zhan

Use of Ban Zhi Lian (barbat skullcap herb) 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 herb, remove impurities, clean, chop and dry.

Dosage: 9-30g

Main actions according to TCM*: Cools the Blood and removes Stagnation of Blood. Clears Heat and reduces swelling. Clears Liver Heat

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ban Zhi Lian may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Abscesses Stasis by traumatic injury Snake bites Toxic swellings Furuncles Sores Cancer Edema Hepatitis Cirrhosis Ascites from cirrhosis Trauma bleeding Hematemesis Epistaxis

Contraindications*: Use with caution during pregnancy and for those with Blood Deficiency.

Key TCM concepts behind Ban Zhi Lian's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ban Zhi Lian belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Ban Zhi Lian is Cold in nature. This means that Ban Zhi Lian typically helps people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. 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 Ban Zhi Lian can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Ban Zhi Lian 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 Ban Zhi Lian 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 Ban Zhi Lian is thought to target the Stomach, the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Stomach 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 Liver on the other hand 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. 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.