English: Centipedes

Chinese: 蜈蚣

Parts used: The dried bug

TCM category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): PungentSalty

Organ affinity: Liver Lung

Scientific name: Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans

Other names: Scolopendra

Use of Wu Gong (centipedes) 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: Centipedes are captured during the spring and summer seasons. They are immobilized by inserting bamboo strips into their head and tail, then carefully straightened and left to dry.

Dosage: 1-4g

Main actions according to TCM*: Extinguishes Wind and stops spasms and convulsions2. Clears toxins; 3. Opens the channels and stops pain.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Wu Gong may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Spasms Tetany Convulsions Epilepsy Venomous bites Venomous stings Swollen glands Migraine headaches Rheumatic pains Convulsions in children Lockjaw Opisthotonis Seizures Facial paralysis Sores Scrofula Carbuncles

Contraindications*: Due to its toxicity, this substance should be used cautiously with a conservative dosage, and it is contraindicated during pregnancy.

Key TCM concepts behind Wu Gong's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Wu Gong belongs to the 'Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors' category. These herbs are used to treat so-called 'hyperactive Liver Yang'. Concretely this translates into high blood pressure as well as seizures, spasms, convulsions, dizziness and vertigo. These herbs often seem to have a powerful antispasmodic effect on the nervous system.

Furthermore Wu Gong is Neutral in nature. This means that Wu Gong 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 Wu Gong means that you don't have to worry about that!

Wu Gong also tastes Pungent and Salty. 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. Pungent ingredients like Wu Gong tends to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food. On the other hand Salty ingredients tend to have a draining effect in the body because they clear accumulations, remove Phlegm and soften hard lumps.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Wu Gong is thought to target the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Liver 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.