English: Blackberry Lily rhizomes

Chinese: 射干

Parts used: The rhizome

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Lung

Scientific name: Belamcanda chinensis

Other names: Belamcanda

Use of She Gan (blackberry lily rhizomes) 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 impurities, wash, soak in water, cut thick slices, dry.

Dosage: 3-6g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Heat. Detoxifies Fire poison especially for sore throat. Resolves Phlegm and lowers Lung Qi

Primary conditions or symptoms for which She Gan may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Sore throat Acute tonsillitis Acute laryngitis Cough with hot phlegm Cough with abundant phlegm

Contraindications*: Contraindicated during pregnancy and for patients with diarrhea due to Spleen Yang Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which She Gan is used*

Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan

Source date: 1831 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Resolves Dampness and transforms turbidity. Clears Heat and resolves Toxicity .

Conditions targeted*: Acute gastroenteritisEnteric fever and others

She Gan is an assistant ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan, She Gan clears and improves the condition of the throat.

Read more about Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan

Key TCM concepts behind She Gan's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), She Gan 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 She Gan is Cold in nature. This means that She Gan 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 She Gan can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

She Gan 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 She Gan 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 She Gan is thought to target the Lung. 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.