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: 3 - 12 grams
Main actions according to TCM*: Expels Heat and toxicity from the Blood. Dispels External Wind-Heat. Reduces lumps, swollen lymph nodes and sores of a Heated nature.
Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Deficiency and Cold Spleen/Stomach conditions, nor should it be used for sores that are already open or caused by Yin Deficiency.
Common TCM formulas in which forsythia fruits are used*:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), forsythia fruits are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity' 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 '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 relieve Toxicity treat the latter while, at the same time, removing infectious toxins from the body. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.
As suggested by its category forsythia fruits are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that forsythia fruits 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 forsythia fruits can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Forsythia fruits also taste Bitter. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like forsythia fruits tend 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 forsythia fruits are thought to target the Heart, the Lung and the Small intestine. In addition to regulating blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body. Like the Stomach, the Small Intestine has a digestive role, extracting the "pure" part of what we injest to the Spleen and the "impure" down to the Large Intestine.
Bofu-tsusho-san (consisting of Forsythiae Fructus) could be a useful herbal medicine in treating obesity with impaired glucose tolerance.1
1. Hioki C, Yoshimoto K, Yoshida T. (2004). Efficacy of bofu-tsusho-san, an oriental herbal medicine, in obese Japanese women with impaired glucose tolerance. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. , 31(9):614-9.