English: Genkwa flowers

Chinese: 芫花

Parts used: Dried flower bud

TCM category: Cathartic herbs that drain downward

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Kidney Large intestine Lung

Scientific name: Daphne genkwa

Other names: Yan hua

Use of Yuan Hua (genkwa flowers) 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 and dry, ideally under the sun

Dosage: 1.5 - 3 grams used in a powder; it can be fried with vinegar to reduce its toxicity.

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves chronic congestion of Fluids in the chest and stops cough. Drains congested Fluids through the urine and the stool. Expels parasites.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Yuan Hua may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Anasarca Hydrothorax Ascites with dyspnea Constipation Oliguria Scabies Tinea Frostbite Ringworm Chronic bronchitis

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by pregnant women nor by those with weak constitutions. It should also not be used with Licorice root (Gan Cao) because it counteracts it.

Common TCM formulas in which Yuan Hua is used*

Shi Zao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Purges and drives out Phlegm-Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: Pericardial and pleural effusionsPneumonia and others

Yuan Hua is a king ingredient in Shi Zao Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Shi Zao Tang, Yuan Hua reduces and eliminates Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondria.

Read more about Shi Zao Tang

Zhou Che Wan

Source date: 992 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Promotes Qi movement. Harshly drives out Water and Heat Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: Ascites from cirrhosisSchistosomiasis and others

Yuan Hua is a king ingredient in Zhou Che Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Zhou Che Wan, Yuan Hua is a harsh expellants that purge water from the abdomen and chest.

Read more about Zhou Che Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Yuan Hua's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Yuan Hua belongs to the 'Cathartic herbs that drain downward' category. The herbs in this category are those whose main purpose is to treat constipation. They're called 'cathartic' because they have an especially strong effect and should only be used for severe intestinal blockage or gastrointestinal swelling.

Furthermore Yuan Hua is Warm in nature. This means that Yuan Hua tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Yuan Hua can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Yuan Hua 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 Yuan Hua 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 Yuan Hua is thought to target the Kidney, the Large intestine 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 Large Intestine on the other hand receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. 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.