English: Common burreed tubers

Chinese: 三棱

Parts used: The tuber or rhizome

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Liver

Scientific name: Sparganium stoloniferum

Other names: Burr-Reed rhizome, Bulrush, Scirpus, Sparganium

Use of San Leng (common burreed tubers) 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 tuber or rhizome, clean, remove skin and dry

Dosage: 3-10g

Main actions according to TCM*: Strongly breaks up Blood Stagnation, invigorates Blood and Qi as well as relieves pain. Regulation menstruation and relieves pain. Removes foods stagnation. Promote lactation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which San Leng may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Low milk supply Food stagnation Abdominal pain Abdominal distention Irregular menstruation Amenorrhea Dysmenorrhea Postpartum abdominal pain Abdominal masses

Common TCM formulas in which San Leng is used*

San Zhong Kui Jian Tang

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 17 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and resolves Toxicity. Reduces swelling. Induces ulceration. Moves the Blood and dispels stasis .

Conditions targeted*: GoiterScrofula and others

San Leng is an assistant ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In San Zhong Kui Jian Tang, San Leng invigorates the Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation. It thus aids in dispersal of the hard swellings. 

The combination of Common burreed tuber and Zedoary rhizome should only be used when the swellings are very hard. Otherwise, they should not be used. 

Read more about San Zhong Kui Jian Tang

Key TCM concepts behind San Leng's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), San Leng 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 San Leng is Neutral in nature. This means that San Leng 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 San Leng means that you don't have to worry about that!

San Leng also tastes Bitter and Pungent. 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 San Leng 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 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.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such San Leng is thought to target the Spleen and the Liver. 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.