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.
Main actions according to TCM*: Expels Heat and Toxicity from the Blood. Clears Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner. Treats vaginal parasites and other conditions such as trichomonas.
Contraindications*: Contraindicated for patients with Spleen or Stomach Deficiency or chronic dysenteric symptoms.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Bai Tou Weng belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity treat the latter while, at the same time, removing infectious toxins from the body. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.
As suggested by its category Bai Tou Weng is Cold in nature. This means that Bai Tou Weng 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 Bai Tou Weng can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Bai Tou Weng 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 Bai Tou Weng 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 Bai Tou Weng is thought to target the Stomach, the Large intestine and the Liver. 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. The Large Intestine on the other hand receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. 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.