English: Black nightshade herbs

Chinese: 龙葵

Parts used: Whole plant

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Bladder Stomach Lung

Scientific name: Solanum nigrum

Other names: Winter Cherry Herb, Solanum

Use of Long Kui (black nightshade herbs) 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 whole plants, remove impurities and dry.

Dosage: 15-30g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Toxic-Heat. Invigorates Blood and reduce swellings. Promotes urination and unblocks painful urinary dysfunction.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Long Kui may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Sores Abscesses Pruritic sores Rashes Erysipelas swollen Painful throat Erysipelas Furuncles Hot urination Painful urination Edema with urinary dysfunction

Contraindications*: Not recommended for patients with Spleen and Stomach Deficiency or during pregnancy.

Key TCM concepts behind Long Kui's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Long Kui belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity' 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 relieve Toxicity treat the latter while, at the same time, removing infectious toxins from the body. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Long Kui is Cold in nature. This means that Long Kui 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 Long Kui can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Long Kui also tastes Bitter. 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 Long Kui tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Long Kui is thought to target the Bladder, the Stomach and the Lung. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. 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.