English: Ground Beetles

Chinese: 土鳖虫

Parts used: The dried female bug

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Salty

Organ affinity: Liver

Scientific name: Eupolyphaga sinensis or Steleophaga plancyi

Other names: Wingless Cockroach, Da Tu Yuan, Eupolyph, Ensis Walker

Use of Tu Bie Chong (ground beetles) 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: Collect the female bugs, boil in hot water and then dry.

Dosage: 3-12g in decoction 1-1.5g in powder

Main actions according to TCM*: Breaks and removes Blood Stagnation, invigorates Blood.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Tu Bie Chong may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Amenorrhea Swollen tongue Abdominal mass Stasis by traumatic injury Fractures Laceration Contusions Lumbar strain

Contraindications*: Only use when there are pattern of Blood Stagnation. Contraindicated during pregnancy.

Common TCM formulas in which Tu Bie Chong is used*

Da Huang Zhe Chong Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Breaks up and dispels Blood Stagnation. Generates new Blood .

Conditions targeted*: Chronic hepatitisAlcoholic liver disease and others

Tu Bie Chong is a king ingredient in Da Huang Zhe Chong Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Da Huang Zhe Chong Wan, Tu Bie Chong attacks and purges the Blood Stagnation, breaking up Blood that has aggregated into fixed abdominal masses. 

Read more about Da Huang Zhe Chong Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Tu Bie Chong's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Tu Bie Chong belongs to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stagnation when it causes certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore Tu Bie Chong is Cold in nature. This means that Tu Bie Chong typically helps people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. 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 Tu Bie Chong can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Tu Bie Chong also tastes Salty. 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. Salty ingredients like Tu Bie Chong tends to have a draining effect in the body because they clear accumulations, remove Phlegm and soften hard lumps.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Tu Bie Chong is thought to target the Liver. In TCM 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.