Qing Pi

English: Green tangerine peel

Chinese: 青皮

Parts used: Dried pericarp of the young or immature fruits

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Gallbladder Stomach Liver

Scientific name: Citrus reticulata

Use of Qing Pi (green tangerine peel) 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: Wash the immature fruit, peel and cut the peel into thick slices. Dry it, ideally under the sun.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Smooths the flow of Liver Qi and releases Stagnation. Reduces Food Stagnation. Dries Damp and reduces Phlegm.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Qing Pi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Hernial pain Breast abcesses Breast sores Breast lumps Swollen painful breasts Mastitis Abdominal pain Abdominal bloating Abdominal masses Abdominal colic Cirrhosis

Contraindications*: This herb should be used with caution by those who are weak with low energy due to Spleen Qi Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which Qing Pi is used*

Pai Shi Tang

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Discharge Gallstones. Clear Damp-Heat. Facilitate urination.

Conditions targeted*: Hepatic calculusCommon Bile Duct Stone and others

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

In Pai Shi Tang, Qing Pi smooths the flow of Liver Qi and releases Stagnation. It also dries Dampness and reduces Phlegm.

Read more about Pai Shi Tang

Xia Ru Yong Quan San

Source date: 1840 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Blood. Increases breast milk supply.

In Xia Ru Yong Quan San, Qing Pi moves Qi and eliminates Qi Stagnation

Read more about Xia Ru Yong Quan San

Gua Lou San

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Remove breast carbuncle (mastitis) after birth giving.

In Gua Lou San, Qing Pi moves Qi and it specifically affects the breasts

Read more about Gua Lou San

Key TCM concepts behind Qing Pi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qing Pi belongs to the 'Herbs that regulate Qi' category. Herbs in this category typically treat a TCM condition called 'Qi Stagnation'. Concretely it means that Qi is blocked in the body's Organs and Meridians, most typically the Stomach, Liver, and to a lesser extent, the Lungs. In modern medicine terms, Qi Stagnation often translates into psychological consequences such as depression, irritability or mood swings. It's also frequently associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, the development of breast swellings as well as various digestive disorders.

Furthermore Qing Pi is Warm in nature. This means that Qing Pi 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 Qing Pi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Qing Pi 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 Qing Pi 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 Qing Pi is thought to target the Gallbladder, the Stomach and the Liver. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gallbladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. The Liver 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 Qing Pi

Xiaozhang Recipe (consisting of Green Tangerine Peel) in combination of lamivudine could improve the liver function of chronic viral hepatitis B patients with compensated liver cirrhosis and hepatitis B virus deoxyribonucleic acid, lower their chronic liver disease questionnaire scores as well as improve their Child-Pugh classification.1

Sources:

1. Zhou ZH, Li M, Huang LY. (2011). Study of xiaozhang recipe combined with lamivudine in treatment of 84 chronic viral hepatitis B patients with compensated liver cirrhosis. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 31(9):1220-3.