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Chinese asparagus tubers

Chinese: 天门冬

Pinyin: Tiān Mén Dōng

Parts used: The dry tuber

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Organ affinity: Kidney Lung

Scientific name: Asparagus cochinchinensis

Use of chinese asparagus tubers (Tian Men Dong) 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: Cut off the vines, dig out the tubers and remove the soil. Boil or steam until the skin is cracked and remove it under clear water. Dry or fumigate with sulfur.

Dosage: 6 - 18 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Nourishes Yin of the Lungs and Kidneys. Expectorates Phlegm.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which chinese asparagus tubers may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Tidal fever Night sweats Dry throat Chronic cough with sticky phlegm Constipation

Contraindications*: Do not use for those with Deficiency of the Spleen and Stomach when there is presence of Cold accompanied by diarrhea; it should not be used for Wind-Cold cough.

Common TCM formulas in which chinese asparagus tubers (Tian Men Dong) are used*

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Source date: 16th century

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat. Sedative.

Conditions targeted*: Perimenopausal syndromeChronic urticaria and others

Tian Men Dong is a deputy ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, Tian Men Dong works together with the two other deputies (Mai Men Dong and Xuan Shen) to enrich the Yin and clear Heat from Deficiency.

In various classical texts, all of these herbs are noted for their efficacy in calming the Mind.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

He Che Da Zao Wan

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies the Kidneys. Strengthens the Directing and Penetrating Vessels. Regulates the periods.

Read more about He Che Da Zao Wan

Key TCM concepts behind chinese asparagus tubers (Tian Men Dong)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), chinese asparagus tubers are plants that belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Yin tonics have a heavy, moist nature. They either nourish the Kidneys and Liver or moisten the Lungs and Stomach. Extreme Yin Deficiency often translates into a 'burn-out', unfortunately more and more common among people today. It is worth mentioning that another great remedy against Yin Deficiency is a lot of rest and sleep; no herb will ever be able to replace this!

Furthermore chinese asparagus tubers are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that chinese asparagus tubers 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 chinese asparagus tubers can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Chinese asparagus tubers 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 chinese asparagus tubers 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 chinese asparagus tubers are thought to target the Kidney and the Lung. According to TCM, the Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. 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.