Bletilla rhizomes

Chinese: 白及

Pinyin: Bái Jí

Parts used: Dried root or Rhizome

TCM category: Herbs that stop bleeding

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Organ affinity: Stomach Liver Lung

Scientific name: Bletilla striata

Other names: Chinese ground orchid, Hyacinth orchid

Use of bletilla rhizomes (Bai Ji) 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, cook in boiling water until it become white color. Then remove skin and dry.

Dosage: 3 to 12 g

Main actions according to TCM*: Stops bleeding in the Stomach and the Lungs such as coughing with blood or ulcers. Also stops bleeding or inflammation due to traumatic injury. It can also heal sunburned skin or chronic sores that don't recover easily.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which bletilla rhizomes may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Boils Sores Peptic ulcers Hematemesis Hemoptysis Pulmonary tuberculosis Sunburn Dry skin

Contraindications*: Should not be used by people who have bleeding from the Lungs or Stomach with true Excess Heat. Also should not be used by these who have Lung abscess or coughing of blood. Should not be used with Aconite (Fu Zhi and Zhi Fu Zi).

Key TCM concepts behind bletilla rhizomes (Bai Ji)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), bletilla rhizomes are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that stop bleeding' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to have hemostatic properties, meaning that they help stop various types of hemorrhages and echymosis. Unlike other herbs they often tend to be used externally.

Furthermore bletilla rhizomes are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that bletilla rhizomes typically help 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 bletilla rhizomes can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Bletilla rhizomes also taste Bitter and 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. Bitter ingredients like bletilla rhizomes tend 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 Sweet ingredients tend 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 bletilla rhizomes are 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.

Research on bletilla rhizomes (Bai Ji)

Reference

  1. Zhang J, Zhang L, Wang J. (2010). Clinical observation on effect of shaogen decoction for the prevention and treatment of acute radiation esophagitis. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 30(12):1272-4.