English: Chinaberry root barks

Chinese: 苦楝皮

Parts used: The root bark

TCM category: Herbs that expel parasites

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Spleen Stomach Liver

Scientific name: Melia azedarach

Other names: Ku Lian Gen Pi, Melia, Bead tree, Chinatree, Pride of India, Cape lilac, Syringa berrytree, Persian lilac, Indian lilac, White cedar

Use of Ku Lian Pi (chinaberry root barks) 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: 4.5-20g

Main actions according to TCM*: Kills parasites in the Intestines. Used topically for tinea and trichomonas vaginitis.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ku Lian Pi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Roundworm Threadworm Hookworm Pinworms Vaginal trichomonas infection Tinea Trichomonas vaginitis

Common TCM formulas in which Ku Lian Pi is used*

Hua Chong Wan

Source date: 1148 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Kills intestinal parasites.

Conditions targeted*: RoundwormAscariasis and others

Ku Lian Pi is a deputy ingredient in Hua Chong Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Hua Chong Wan, Ku Lian Pi kills roundworms and pinworms. 

Read more about Hua Chong Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Ku Lian Pi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ku Lian Pi belongs to the 'Herbs that expel parasites' category. Herbs in this category are used to treat roundworms, tapeworm, hookworm and other intestinal parasites. In most cases, these herbs should be combined with other herbs to assist their action such as 'Purgative herbs that drain downward' or Qi tonics. Typically these herbs should only be prescribed for a short period as they often have some level of toxicity.

Furthermore Ku Lian Pi is Cold in nature. This means that Ku Lian Pi 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 Ku Lian Pi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Ku Lian Pi 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 Ku Lian Pi 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 Ku Lian Pi is thought to target the Spleen, the Stomach and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. 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. 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.