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 resin and dry
Main actions according to TCM*: Opens the Orifices. Invigorate Blood and Qi.
Contraindications*: Contraindicated for patients with Empty Fire due to Yin Deficiency.
Source date: 752 AD
Number of ingredients: 15 herbs
Formula key actions: Warms and aromatically opens the sensory orifices. Promotes the movement of Qi. Transforms turbidity.
An Xi Xiang is a king ingredient in Su He Xiang Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Su He Xiang Wan, An Xi Xiang penetrates through the turbidity surrounding the sensory orifices, opens closed disorders and restores consciousness.
Source date: 1075
Number of ingredients: 9 herbs
Formula key actions: Clears Heat. Opens the sensory orifices. Resolves toxicity. Transforms Phlegm .
An Xi Xiang is a deputy ingredient in Zhi Bao Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
In Zhi Bao Dan, An Xi Xiang is highly aromatic. It penetrates the sensory orifices, clears away filth, and transforms turbidity.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), An Xi Xiang belongs to the 'Herbs that open the Orifices' category. The functions of these herbs are much more platonic than the name implies. They're used to help treat conditions associated with central nervous system collapse, including strokes and coma.
Furthermore An Xi Xiang is Neutral in nature. This means that An Xi Xiang 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 An Xi Xiang means that you don't have to worry about that!
An Xi Xiang 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 An Xi Xiang 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 An Xi Xiang is thought to target the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. 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.