E Jiao (Donkey-hide gelatin) in Chinese Medicine

English: Donkey-hide gelatin

Chinese: 阿胶

Parts used: Solid glue prepared from the dried or fresh skin of donkeys

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Kidney Liver Lung

Scientific name: Equus asinus

Other names: Ass-hide glue, Donkey skin glue

Use of E Jiao (donkey-hide gelatin) 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: The donkey skin is soaked in water to soften it and the hair are removed. The skin is then chopped into small pieces, put in boiling water and the gelatin is separated from the skin. The gelatin is boiled further and then left to cool down and ultimately dry into solidified pieces.

Dosage: 3 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies and nourishes Blood. Stops bleeding. Moistens and lubricates Yin.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which E Jiao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Dizziness Pale face Palpitations Bloody sputum Blood in stools Abnormal uterine bleeding Insomnia Irritability Anemia Dry cough Hemoptysis Hematemesis Hematuria Excessive menstrual discharge

Contraindications*: Not for External conditions or conditions associated with Dampness caused by Spleen Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which E Jiao is used*

E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang

Source date: the Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Yin. Nourishes Blood. Calms the Liver. Extinguishes Wind.

Conditions targeted*: EncephalitisMeningitis and others

E Jiao is a king ingredient in E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang, E Jiao is heavy and thick. It nourishes the Yin and Blood, expels Wind, sedates the Yang, augments the Yin Body Fluids, and moistens the sinews .

Read more about E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang

Huang Lian E Jiao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Enriches the Yin. Causes Fire to descend. Eliminates irritability. Calms the spirit.

Conditions targeted*: Nervous exhaustionAutonomic dystonia and others

E Jiao is a king ingredient in Huang Lian E Jiao Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Huang Lian E Jiao Tang, E Jiao indirectly controls the Heart Fire by enriching the Yin and nourishing the Blood

Read more about Huang Lian E Jiao Tang

Bu Fei E Jiao Tang

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Controls coughing. Stops bleeding. Tonifies the Lungs.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic bronchitisBronchiectasis and others

E Jiao is a king ingredient in Bu Fei E Jiao Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Bu Fei E Jiao Tang, E Jiao nourishes the Yin and tonifies the Lungs, stops the bleeding, and nourishes the Blood.

Read more about Bu Fei E Jiao Tang

Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang

Source date: 1658 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears dryness. Moistens the Lungs.

Conditions targeted*: InfluenzaAcute bronchitis and others

E Jiao is an assistant ingredient in Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang, E Jiao moistens the Lungs and nourish the Lung Yin. It harmonizes the Heat-clearing and Lung Qi-disseminating actions of the other ingredients with a moistening action.

Read more about Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang

Qing Re Gu Jing Tang

Source date: 1988

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Empty Heat. Tonifies the Kidney Yin. Stops bleeding. Supplies Body Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: MetrorrhagiaThreatened miscarriage and others

E Jiao is an assistant ingredient in Qing Re Gu Jing Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Qing Re Gu Jing Tang, E Jiao tonifies the Blood, nourishes the Blood and stops bleeding.

Read more about Qing Re Gu Jing Tang

Jiu Xian San

Source date: Yuan dynasty

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Secures the Lungs. Stops coughing. Augments Qi . Nourishes Yin.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic bronchitisAsthma and others

E Jiao is an assistant ingredient in Jiu Xian San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Jiu Xian San, E Jiao nourishes the Lung Yin, also serves a minor astringent function.

Read more about Jiu Xian San

Wen Jing Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms the Uterus and vessels. Nourishes Blood. Dispels Cold. Dispels Blood Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: Dysfunctional uterine bleedingUterine hypoplasia and others

In Wen Jing Tang, E Jiao nourishes the Blood, tonifies the Yin, and regulates the LiverIn this formula, together with Dwarf lilyturf root, they focus on nourishing the Yin, moistening Dryness, and clearing Heat from Deficiency.

Read more about Wen Jing Tang

Tiao Gan Tang

Source date: 1827 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin.

In Tiao Gan Tang, E Jiao nourishes Blood

Read more about Tiao Gan Tang

Liang Di Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Yin. Cools Blood. Stop bleeding.

In Liang Di Tang, E Jiao nourishes Blood, which helps to nourish Yin. It also calms Blood and therefore helps to stop bleeding

Read more about Liang Di Tang

Key TCM concepts behind E Jiao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), E Jiao belongs 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 E Jiao is Neutral in nature. This means that E Jiao typically doesn'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 E Jiao means that you don't have to worry about that!

E Jiao also tastes 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 E Jiao tends 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 E Jiao is thought to target the Kidney, the Liver and the Lung. 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. 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.