English: Glossy privet fruits

Chinese: 女贞子

Parts used: Dried fruit

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Organ affinity: Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Ligustrum lucidum

Other names: Broad-leaf privet fruit, Chinese privet fruit, Tree privet fruit, Wax-leaf privet fruit

Use of Nu Zhen Zi (glossy privet 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: 6 - 12 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Nourishes Yin of the Liver and Kidneys. Clears Yin Deficiency Heat (False Heat). Brightens the eyes and reduce premature graying hair.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Nu Zhen Zi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Tinnitus Knee pain Premature graying Impaired vision Back pain

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Yang Deficiency of the Spleen with Cold and diarrhea.

Common TCM formulas in which Nu Zhen Zi is used*

Er Zhi Wan

Source date: 1534 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Liver Yin. Nourishes Kidney Yin.

Conditions targeted*: InsomniaHemorrhage and others

Nu Zhen Zi is a king ingredient in Er Zhi Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Er Zhi Wan, Nu Zhen Zi is sweet, bitter, and cool. It enriches the Kidneys and nourishes the Liver. Together with Mo han lian it nourishes the Yin aspects of the Liver and Kidneys, without being cloying.

Read more about Er Zhi Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Nu Zhen Zi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Nu Zhen Zi belongs 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 Nu Zhen Zi is Neutral in nature. This means that Nu Zhen Zi 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 Nu Zhen Zi means that you don't have to worry about that!

Nu Zhen Zi also tastes Bitter and Sweet. 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 Nu Zhen Zi 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 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 Nu Zhen Zi is thought to target the Kidney and the Liver. 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 Liver on the other hand 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.

Research on Nu Zhen Zi

Jiangtang Bushen Recipe (composed of Glossy Privet Fruit) can improve insulin resistance and alleviate clinical symptoms of type 2 diabetes mellitus patients.1


1. Fan GJ, Tang XY, Li SL. (2006). Effects of Jiangtang Bushen Recipe on serum C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi, 26(4):329-31.