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Dogbane leaves

Chinese: 罗布麻

Pinyin: Luó Bù Má

Parts used: Dried leaves

TCM category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Liver

Scientific name: Apocynum venetum

Other names: Sword-leaf dogbane

Use of dogbane leaves (Luo Bu Ma) 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 and dry.

Dosage: 5 to 10 g

Main actions according to TCM*: Pacifies Liver's hyperactivity and smoothes the Mind. Removes Heat and helps urination.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which dogbane leaves may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Dizziness Palpitations Insomnia Edema Hypertension Neurasthenia Nephritic edema Vertigo Headache Scanty urination

Key TCM concepts behind dogbane leaves (Luo Bu Ma)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dogbane leaves are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors' category. These herbs are used to treat so-called 'hyperactive Liver Yang'. Concretely this translates into high blood pressure as well as seizures, spasms, convulsions, dizziness and vertigo. These herbs often seem to have a powerful antispasmodic effect on the nervous system.

Furthermore dogbane leaves are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that dogbane leaves tend to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. 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 dogbane leaves can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Dogbane leaves also taste 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. Sweet ingredients like dogbane leaves 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 dogbane leaves are thought to target the Liver. In TCM the Liver 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.