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Coco-grass rhizomes

Chinese: 香附

Pinyin: Xiāng Fù

Parts used: Dried rhizome

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): BitterPungentSweet

Organ affinity: Spleen Liver Sanjiao

Scientific name: Cyperus rotundus

Other names: Java grass, Nut grass, Purple nut sedge, Purple nutsedge, Khmer kravanh chruk

Use of coco-grass rhizomes (Xiang Fu) 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: Remove impurities, cut in thick pieces and dry.

Dosage: 4 - 12 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Unblocks Stagnant Liver Qi and relieves pain. Regulates the Liver and Spleen. Assists the regulation of menses and relieves pain.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which coco-grass rhizomes may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Chest pain Abdominal pain Abdominal colic Irregular menstruation Amenorrhea Dysmenorrhea Acid reflux Abdominal bloating

Contraindications*: Because of its Drying nature, this herb should not be used when there is Yin or Qi Deficiency, especially when there is Heat associated with the condition.

Common TCM formulas in which coco-grass rhizomes (Xiang Fu) are used*

Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan

Source date: 1817 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Resolves Dampness and Phlegm.

Xiang Fu is a king ingredient in Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan, Xiang Fu moves Qi and eliminates Qi Stagnation which will help to resolve Phlegm

Read more about Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan

Liang Fu Wan

Source date: 1842 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms the Middle Burner. Dispels Cold. Promotes the movement of Qi. Alleviates Pain.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic gastritisPeptic ulcers and others

Xiang Fu is a king ingredient in Liang Fu Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Liang Fu Wan, Xiang Fu enters the Qi aspect of the Liver and the Triple Burner channel to regulate their Qi, thereby unblocking the movement of Qi in all of the twelve primary and eight extra Channels. It also excels at relieving Stagnation.

Read more about Liang Fu Wan

Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Source date: 1602

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.

Conditions targeted*: HepatitisChronic gastritis and others

Xiang Fu is a deputy ingredient in Chai Hu Shu Gan San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Chai Hu Shu Gan San, Xiang Fu enters the Liver meridian to regulate its Qi.

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Yue Ju Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Promotes the movement of Qi. Releases all types of Stagnation (Qi, Blood, Phlegm, Fire, Food and Dampness).

Conditions targeted*: Peptic ulcersIrritable bowel syndrome and others

Xiang Fu is a deputy ingredient in Yue Ju Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Yue Ju Wan, Xiang Fu is extremely effective at resolving issues caused by Qi Stagnation. It is a herb that's often used to treat gynecological disorders because it is said to enter the Blood aspect of Qi.

Read more about Yue Ju Wan

Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Invigorates Blood. Eliminates Blood Stagnation below the diaphragm. Stops pain. Promotes Qi movement.

Conditions targeted*: AmenorrheaPainful menstruations and others

In Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang, Xiang Fu invigorates Blood below the diaphragm
   

Read more about Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang

Source date: 1576 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Expel Dampness. Relieve pain. Move Qi and Blood.

In Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang, Xiang Fu moves Qi and stops pain

Read more about Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang

Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Pacifies the Liver. Removes Stagnation. Drains Fire. Unblocks the Meridians.

In Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang, Xiang Fu pacifies the Liver, moves Qi and eliminates Stagnation 

Read more about Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang

Wu Yao Tang

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Pacifies the Liver. Moves Qi. Stops pain. Nourishes Liver Blood. Eliminates Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease and others

In Wu Yao Tang, Xiang Fu specifically treats disorders due to Qi blockage, but also enters the Blood aspect to move Blood that has become static due to Qi Stagnation. It also pacify the Liver and stop pain. Its combination with Wu Yao addresses the blockage of Qi within both the Qi and Blood levels.

Read more about Wu Yao Tang

Key TCM concepts behind coco-grass rhizomes (Xiang Fu)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), coco-grass rhizomes are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that regulate Qi' category. Herbs in this category typically treat a TCM condition called 'Qi Stagnation'. Concretely it means that Qi is blocked in the body's Organs and Meridians, most typically the Stomach, Liver, and to a lesser extent, the Lungs. In modern medicine terms, Qi Stagnation often translates into psychological consequences such as depression, irritability or mood swings. It's also frequently associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, the development of breast swellings as well as various digestive disorders.

Furthermore coco-grass rhizomes are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that coco-grass rhizomes typically don'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 coco-grass rhizomes means that you don't have to worry about that!

Coco-grass rhizomes also taste Bitter, Pungent 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 coco-grass rhizomes 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 Pungent ingredients tend to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food. Lastly 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 coco-grass rhizomes are thought to target the Spleen, the Liver and the Sanjiao. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. 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. The Triple Burner (Sanjiao) is a special concept in TCM with no corresponding organ in modern medicine. Its function is similar to a water wheel: Body Fluids, Qi and food are transported through the San Jiao and that very movement helps our metabolism.

Research on coco-grass rhizomes (Xiang Fu)

Anti-microbial, anti-malarial, anti-oxidant, and anti-diabetic compounds have been isolated and identified from C. rotundus.1.

Sources:

1. Buckley S, Usai D, Jakob T, Radini A, Hardy K (2014) Dental Calculus Reveals Unique Insights into Food Items, Cooking and Plant Processing in Prehistoric Central Sudan. PLoS ONE 9(7): e100808. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100808

Use of coco-grass rhizomes (Xiang Fu) as food

Coco-grass rhizomes are also eaten as food.