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Cyathula roots

Chinese: 川牛膝

Pinyin: Chuān Niú Xī

Parts used: Dried root

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Organ affinity: Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Chuān Niú Xī

Other names: Ox knee

Use of cyathula roots (Chuan Niu Xi) 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, wash, cut into thin slices, and dry

Dosage: 5 - 10g

Main actions according to TCM*: Removes Blood Stagnation and unblocks menstruation. Improve joint pain. Promotes urination and treats dysuria.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which cyathula roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Amenorrhea Joint pain Rheumatic athralgia Blood in urine Dysmenorrhea Urinary tract infection Urinary difficulties

Contraindications*: Contraindicated during Pregnancy

Common TCM formulas in which cyathula roots (Chuan Niu Xi) are used*

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Invigorates the Blood. Dispels blood Stagnation. Spreads the Liver Qi. Unblocks the channels.

Conditions targeted*: Coronary artery diseaseRheumatic valvular heart disease and others

Chuan Niu Xi is a deputy ingredient in Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, Chuan Niu Xi invigorates the Blood circulation by eliminating Stagnation. It has a descending nature that conducts the Blood downward.

Read more about Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Conditions targeted*: InsomniaHeadache and others

Chuan Niu Xi is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, Chuan Niu Xi has a descending nature that drives the Blood downward. Together with Yi Mu Cao (Motherwort herb), they are diuretic in nature, directing pathogenic Qi and Body Fluids out via the urine. 

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Key TCM concepts behind cyathula roots (Chuan Niu Xi)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cyathula roots are plants that belong 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 cyathula roots are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that cyathula roots 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 cyathula roots means that you don't have to worry about that!

Cyathula roots also taste Bitter 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 cyathula roots 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 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 cyathula roots are thought to target the Kidney and the Liver. According to TCM, 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 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.