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.
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.
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.
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 various classical texts, all of these herbs are noted for their efficacy in calming the Mind.
Source date: 1918 AD
Number of ingredients: 12 herbs
Formula key actions: Sedates the Liver. Axtinguishes Wind. Nourishes the Yin. Anchors the yang.
Tian Men Dong is an assistant ingredient in Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Tian Men Dong belongs 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 Tian Men Dong is Cold in nature. This means that Tian Men Dong 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 Tian Men Dong can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Tian Men Dong also tastes 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 Tian Men Dong tends 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 Tian Men Dong is 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.