English: Cicada sloughs

Chinese: 蟬蛻

Parts used: Dry Cicada slough

TCM category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterSalty

Organ affinity: Liver Lung

Scientific name: Nymph of Cryptotympana pustulata Fabricius

Use of Chan Tui (cicada sloughs) 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: Collect the cicada slough from the tree or ground, remove impurities and dry. Crush before use.

Dosage: 3-9g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Wind-Heat and benefits the throat. Allows the release of Toxins from the skin and relieves itching. Expels Wind and relieves spasms and convulsions associated with Heat.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Chan Tui may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Sore throat Loss of voice Skin eruptions Convulsions

Contraindications*: Contraindicated during pregnancy.

Common TCM formulas in which Chan Tui is used*

Xiao Feng San

Source date: 1617 AD

Number of ingredients: 13 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Wind. Eliminates Dampness. Clears Heat. Cools the Blood.

Conditions targeted*: UrticariaEczema and others

Chan Tui is a king ingredient in Xiao Feng San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Xiao Feng San, Chan Tui

is unblock the interstices and pores and disperse external Wind.

Read more about Xiao Feng San

Zhu Ye Cheng Liu Tang

Source date: 1613 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Releases the Exterior. Vents rashes. Clears. Generates Body Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: MeaslesChickenpox and others

Chan Tui is an assistant ingredient in Zhu Ye Cheng Liu Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Zhu Ye Cheng Liu Tang, Chan Tui releases the Exterior, disperse Fire from Stagnation, and facilitates the venting of toxins.

Read more about Zhu Ye Cheng Liu Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Chan Tui's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chan Tui belongs to the 'Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Cool/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by dilating our capillary pores so that they release more sweat. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category Chan Tui is Cold in nature. This means that Chan Tui 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 Chan Tui can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Chan Tui also tastes Bitter 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. Bitter ingredients like Chan Tui 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 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 Chan Tui 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.