Glehnia roots

Chinese: 北沙参

Pinyin: Běi Shā Shēn

Parts used: Dried root

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachLung

Scientific name: Glehnia littoralis

Other names: Beach silvertop, American silvertop

Use of glehnia roots (Běi Shā Shēn) 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 practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove stems and fibrous roots, wash, peel off the skin and dry it.

Dosage: 6 - 12 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Nourishes Lung Yin and stops cough. Nourishes Stomach Yin and generates Fluids.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which glehnia roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Dry cough Bloody sputum Dry mouth Sore throat

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with conditions of Wind-Cold nor should it be used by those with a weak Cold Spleen.

Common TCM formulas in which glehnia roots are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind glehnia roots' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), glehnia roots are plants that belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Yin tonics have a heavy, moist nature. They either nourish the Kidneys and Liver or moisten the Lungs and Stomach. Extreme Yin Deficiency often translates into a 'burn-out', unfortunately more and more common among people today. It is worth mentioning that another great remedy against Yin Deficiency is a lot of rest and sleep; no herb will ever be able to replace this!

Furthermore glehnia roots are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that glehnia roots 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 glehnia roots can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Glehnia roots also taste Bitter and Sweet. 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 glehnia roots tend 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 Sweet ingredients tend 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 glehnia roots are thought to target the Stomach and the Lung. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. 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.

Research on glehnia roots

Glehnia littoralis has antibacterial and antifungal properties.1

Sources:

1. H Matsuura, G Saxena, SW Farmer et al. (1996). Antibacterial and Antifungal Polyine Compounds from Glehnia littoralis ssp. Ieiocarpa. Planta Medica 62: 256—259