English: Dichroa roots

Chinese: 常山

Parts used: Dry root

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Heart Liver Lung

Scientific name: Dichroa febrifuga

Other names: Dichroae Radix

Use of Chang Shan (dichroa roots) 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, soak in water, cut thick slices, dry.

Dosage: 5-9g

Main actions according to TCM*: Stops malaria. Clears Damp-Phlegm accumulated in the chest.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Chang Shan may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Malaria

Contraindications*: Use with caution as it induces vomiting, especially for pregnant patients.

Common TCM formulas in which Chang Shan is used*

Jie Nue Qi Bao Yin

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Regulates Cold and Heat. Harmonizes the Stomach. Directs rebellious Qi downward.

Conditions targeted*: Malaria and others

Chang Shan is a king ingredient in Jie Nue Qi Bao Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Jie Nue Qi Bao Yin, Chang Shan is specialized in checking malarial disorders but also expels Phlegm and removes Stagnation in the interior.

This herb is bitter, acrid, cold, and toxic. 

Read more about Jie Nue Qi Bao Yin

Key TCM concepts behind Chang Shan's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chang Shan belongs to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Dampness that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Dampness accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore Chang Shan is Cold in nature. This means that Chang Shan typically helps people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Chang Shan can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Chang Shan 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 Chang Shan 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 Chang Shan is thought to target the Heart, the Liver and the Lung. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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.