English: Forsythia fruits

Chinese: 连翘

Parts used: Dried fruit

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Heart Lung Small intestine

Scientific name: Forsythia suspensa

Other names: Weeping forsythia fruit, Golden-bell fruit

Use of Lian Qiao (forsythia fruits) 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: 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.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Lian Qiao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Carbuncles Boils Lymphadenitis Mastitis Erysipelas Urinary tract infection Oliguria Sore throat Dry mouth

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 Lian Qiao is used*

Yin Qiao San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Wind Heat. Clears Heat. Resolves Toxicity.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Lian Qiao is a king ingredient in Yin Qiao San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Yin Qiao San, Lian Qiao acrid, cool, and fragrant. It releases the Exterior, clear Heat from
the Lungs and resolve Toxicity. 

Read more about Yin Qiao San

Sang Ju Yin

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Wind. Stops coughing by invigorating Lung Qi. Clears Heat.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Lian Qiao is a deputy ingredient in Sang Ju Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Sang Ju Yin, Lian Qiao assists the formula in releasing the Exterior

Read more about Sang Ju Yin

Xuan Bi Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears and resolves Damp-Heat. Unblocks the meridians. Disbands painful obstruction.

Conditions targeted*: Rheumatic feverRheumatoid arthritis and others

Lian Qiao is an assistant ingredient in Xuan Bi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Xuan Bi Tang, Lian Qiao is very effective in clearing relatively superficial Heat.

Read more about Xuan Bi Tang

Qing Ying Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears the Nutritive level Heat. Relieves Fire Toxin. Removes Heat. Nourishes Yin.

Conditions targeted*: Encephalitis BMeningitis and others

Lian Qiao is an assistant ingredient in Qing Ying Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Qing Ying Tang, Lian Qiao is fragrant, aromatic and light, like the other assistant ingredient of the formula Honeysuckle flowers. It clears Heat and removes Toxin by pushing pathogenic Heat outside.

The key and deputy herbs of the formula dissipates this Heat from nutritive level (more severe) to the Qi level (less severe). Then Forsythia fruit disperses the Heat from Qi level to outside the body. 

Read more about Qing Ying Tang

Bao He Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Reduces food stagnation. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Conditions targeted*: GastroenteritisChronic gastritis and others

Lian Qiao is an assistant ingredient in Bao He Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Bao He Wan, Lian Qiao addresses the Heat generated from food stagnation and also for its ability to disperse and penetrate, which makes it a valuable herb for treating Phlegm-Heat.

Read more about Bao He Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Lian Qiao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Lian Qiao belongs 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 '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 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 Lian Qiao is Cool in nature. This means that Lian Qiao tends 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 Lian Qiao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Lian Qiao 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 Lian Qiao 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 Lian Qiao is 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 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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. 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.

Research on Lian Qiao

Bofu-tsusho-san (consisting of Forsythiae Fructus) could be a useful herbal medicine in treating obesity with impaired glucose tolerance.1

Sources:

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.