English: Biota seeds

Chinese: 柏子仁

Parts used: Dried ripe seeds

TCM category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Heart Kidney Large intestine

Scientific name: Platycladus orientalis

Other names: Chinese thuja seeds, Oriental arborvitae seeds, Oriental thuja seeds

Use of Bai Zi Ren (biota seeds) 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: After harvest dry the seeds and remove the seed coats in order to collect the kernels.

Dosage: 3 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Nourishes the Heart and calms the Spirit. Moistens the Intestines and relieves constipation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Bai Zi Ren may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Insomnia Restlessness Depression Night sweats Constipation Palpitations

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with diarrhea nor should it be used for conditions of Phlegm.

Common TCM formulas in which Bai Zi Ren is used*

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Source date: 16th century

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat. Sedative.

Conditions targeted*: Perimenopausal syndromeChronic urticaria and others

Bai Zi Ren is an assistant ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, Bai Zi Ren works together with Chinese senega root (Yuan Zhi), another assistant in this formula, to calm the Mind.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Key TCM concepts behind Bai Zi Ren's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Bai Zi Ren belongs to the 'Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit' category. These herbs are substances that tranquilize the Mind and treat symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, anxiety or insomnia. They tend to have sedative properties by tonifying Heart Yin and Blood as in TCM it is believed that the Heart is the store of the Mind.

Furthermore Bai Zi Ren is Neutral in nature. This means that Bai Zi Ren 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 Bai Zi Ren means that you don't have to worry about that!

Bai Zi Ren also tastes 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 Bai Zi Ren tends 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 Bai Zi Ren is thought to target the Heart, the Kidney and the Large intestine. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. 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.

Research on Bai Zi Ren

N-butanol extract from the seeds of Platycladus orientalis (BSPO) significantly extended the lifespan of C. elegans in a concentration dependent manner under normal culture conditions and stress. This lifespan-extension effect could be attributed to BSPO's direct ROS scavenging activity, reducing the amount of lipofuscin and increasing the expression of gens associated with resistance to stress.1

Sources:

1. H Liu, F Liang, W Su, N Wang, M Lv, P Li, Z Pei et al. (2013). Lifespan extension by n-butanol extract from seed of Platycladus orientalis in Caenorhabditis elegans. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 147(2): 366-372. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2013.03.019