English: Dittany root bark

Chinese: 白鲜皮

Parts used: Dried root bark

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Bladder Spleen Stomach

Scientific name: Dictamnus dasycarpus

Other names: Burning bush, Gas plant, Fraxinella

Use of Bai Xian Pi (dittany root bark) 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, moisten slightly, cut in thick slices and dry.

Dosage: 6 - 12 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Expels Heat and toxicity especially when associated with Dampness. Expels Wind and Dampness.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Bai Xian Pi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Rashes Scabies Sores Carbuncles Eczema Rubella Ringworm Rheumatoid arthritis Jaundice

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with conditions of Cold nor by those with Deficient Qi where there is Cold in the abdomen.

Common TCM formulas in which Bai Xian Pi is used*

Er Qing Gao

Source date: 1617 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Toxic-Heat. Disperses swelling. Relieves pain.

Conditions targeted*: BoilsCarbuncles and others

Bai Xian Pi is a deputy ingredient in Er Qing Gao. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Er Qing Gao, Bai Xian Pi is bitter and cold. It drains Fire, resolves Toxic-Heat, disperses swelling and relives pain. It treats internal clumping due to accumulation of Toxic-Heat. 

Read more about Er Qing Gao

Key TCM concepts behind Bai Xian Pi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Bai Xian Pi belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness treat the latter while, at the same time, relieving the body of excess Dampness. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Bai Xian Pi is Cold in nature. This means that Bai Xian Pi 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 Bai Xian Pi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Bai Xian Pi also tastes Bitter. 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 Bai Xian Pi tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Bai Xian Pi is thought to target the Bladder, the Spleen and the Stomach. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. The Spleen on the other hand assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.

Research on Bai Xian Pi

Dictamnus dasycarpus Turcz may be effective in the relief of symptoms of allergic atopic dermatitis and other allergy-related diseases.1


1. S Jiang, Y Nakano, MA Rahman et al. (2008). Effects of a Dictamnus dasycarpus T. Extract on Allergic Models in Mice. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 72(3), p. 660-665.