Cuscuta seeds

Chinese: 菟丝子

Pinyin: Tú Sī Zi

Parts used: Dried ripe seeds

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenKidneyLiver

Scientific name: Cuscuta chinensis

Other names: Dodder seeds

Use of cuscuta seeds (Tu Si Zi) 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: Harvest the fruit when mature, dry it, extract the seeds and remove impurities.

Dosage: 9 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies Kidney Yang and Essence. Nourishes the Liver.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which cuscuta seeds may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Impotence Enuresis Urinary incontinence Impaired vision Tinnitus Miscarriage Diarrhea Premature ejaculation

Contraindications*: Not for use during pregnancy.

Common TCM formulas in which cuscuta seeds are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind cuscuta seeds (Tu Si Zi)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cuscuta seeds are plants that belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Yang Tonics are generally used in combination with a small amount of Yin tonics. If Yin is deficient, neither Qi nor Yang herbs alone will be effective. The most common symptoms associated with Yang Deficiency are low libido and impotence. It is worth mentioning that another very effective remedy against Yang Deficiency is regular exercise.

Furthermore cuscuta seeds are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that cuscuta seeds tend to help people who have too much "cold" in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much cold in their body are said to either have a Yin excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition cuscuta seeds can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Cuscuta seeds also taste Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like cuscuta seeds 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 cuscuta seeds are thought to target the Spleen, the Kidney and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on cuscuta seeds(Tu Si Zi)

Whey associated with dodder seed extract can serve as a promising alternative for the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis.1


1. Mehrbani M, Choopani R, Fekri A, Mehrabani M, Mosaddegh M, Mehrabani M. (2015). The efficacy of whey associated with dodder seed extract on moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in adults: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Ethnopharmacol., 172:325-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.07.003.