English: Erythrinae barks

Chinese: 海桐皮

Parts used: The bark

TCM category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Erythrina variegata

Other names: Tiger's claw, Indian coral tree

Use of Hai Tong Pi (erythrinae barks) 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: Collect the bark, removes impurities and dry

Dosage: 6-30g

Main actions according to TCM*: Treats Painful Obstruction Syndrome due to Wind-Damp, removes Stagnation and unblocks Channels. Promotes urination and reduces edema. Relieves itching skin lesions and kills parasites. Treats toothache due to dental caries.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Hai Tong Pi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Dental caries Painful Obstruction Syndrome Lower back pain Knee pain Extremities spasms Edema Scabies Skin lesions

Common TCM formulas in which Hai Tong Pi is used*

Hai Tong Pi Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Invigorates the Blood. Disperses swelling. Dispels Wind, Dampness and Cold. Removes Stagnation and relieves pain.

Conditions targeted*: Trauma and others

Hai Tong Pi is a king ingredient in Hai Tong Pi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Hai Tong Pi Tang, Hai Tong Pi unblocks the Channels, invigorates the collaterals, dispel Dampness, and relieves pain. 

Erythrinae bark, Garden Balsam, Clematis root, Angelica root, Saposhnikovia root and Sichuan pepper shares similar functions. 

Read more about Hai Tong Pi Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Hai Tong Pi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Hai Tong Pi belongs to the 'Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness' category. These herbs typically help treat what's called 'bi pain' (i.e. painful obstruction) in TCM. This roughly corresponds to arthritic and rheumatic conditions with pain, stiffness and numbness of the bones, joints and muscles.

Furthermore Hai Tong Pi is Neutral in nature. This means that Hai Tong Pi 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 Hai Tong Pi means that you don't have to worry about that!

Hai Tong Pi 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 Hai Tong Pi 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 Hai Tong Pi is thought to target the Spleen, the Kidney and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. 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 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.