Peng Sha (Borax) in Chinese Medicine

English: Borax

Chinese: 硼砂

Parts used: The mineral

TCM category: Herbs for external application

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): SaltySweet

Organ affinity: Stomach Lung

Scientific name: Sodium tetraborate decahydrate

Use of Peng Sha (borax) 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 mineral, melt it in water and stir until it become crystalized.

Dosage: 2-5g

Main actions according to TCM*: Applied topically for Toxic-Heat. Clears Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Peng Sha may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Sore throat Draining vaginal lesions Throat pain Open sores in mouth Red eyes Swollen eyes Painful eyes Blurred vision Difficult expectorate sputum Toe blisters

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by pregnant women and should be used with caution internally. It should not be used internally for more than five days and preferably only three. Long term use of more than a week or so at a time can cause damage to the Kidneys.

Common TCM formulas in which Peng Sha is used*

Bing Peng San

Source date: 1617 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Toxic-Heat. Dispels putrescence. Reduces swellings and relieves pain.

Conditions targeted*: ThrushGingivitis and others

Peng Sha is a king ingredient in Bing Peng San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Bing Peng San, Peng Sha clears Heat, reduces swelling, and disperses clumps.

Read more about Bing Peng San

Key TCM concepts behind Peng Sha's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Peng Sha belongs to the 'Herbs for external application' category. Like the name indicates, this category of herbs is used mostly for external application in the form of powders, pastes or ointments. As such they are used to treat trauma, inflammation, swelling, bruises, bleeding, pain and so forth.

Furthermore Peng Sha is Cool in nature. This means that Peng Sha tends to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. 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 Peng Sha can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Peng Sha also tastes Salty 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. Salty ingredients like Peng Sha tends to have a draining effect in the body because they clear accumulations, remove Phlegm and soften hard lumps. 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 Peng Sha is thought to target the Stomach 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. 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.