English: Cockle shells

Chinese: 瓦楞子

Parts used: Shells

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Salty

Organ affinity: Stomach Liver Lung

Scientific name: Arca subcrenata Lischke, Arca gransa Linnaeus, Arca inflata Reeve

Other names: Arc shell

Use of Wa Leng Zi (cockle shells) 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 cockle, wash, briefly boiled in boiling water to remove the flesh, and then dried. Crush to powder before use.

Dosage: 9-30g

Main actions according to TCM*: Eliminates Phlegm, dispels Blood Stagnation, softens hardness and dissipates nodules. Relieve gastric pain by reducing acid.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Wa Leng Zi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Abdominal mass Scrofula Goiter Chronic Stomach pain Acid regurgitation

Contraindications*: Nor for patients without Phlegm accumulation.

Key TCM concepts behind Wa Leng Zi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Wa Leng Zi belongs to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stagnation when it causes certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore Wa Leng Zi is Neutral in nature. This means that Wa Leng Zi typically doesn't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of Wa Leng Zi means that you don't have to worry about that!

Wa Leng Zi also tastes 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. Salty ingredients like Wa Leng Zi tends 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 Wa Leng Zi is thought to target the Stomach, the Liver and the Lung. 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 Liver on the other hand 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.