English: Ground pine

Chinese: 伸筋草

Parts used: Stems and leaves

TCM category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Lycopodium japonicum

Other names: Common club moss, Lycopodium, Wolf's Claw Club Moss, Stag's-horn clubmoss

Use of Shen Jin Cao (ground pine) 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: Harvest when the stems and leaves are lush in the summer and autumn, remove impurities, and dry in the sun.

Dosage: 6-15g

Main actions according to TCM*: Dispels Wind-Damp. Relaxes sinews and removes Stagnation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Shen Jin Cao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Stasis by traumatic injury Stiff back due to hemiplegia Stiff joint due to hemiplegia

Contraindications*: Should be used cautiously during pregnancy and in individuals with excessive bleeding. It is not recommended for those with a Deficiency condition.

Key TCM concepts behind Shen Jin Cao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shen Jin Cao belongs to the 'Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness' category. These herbs typically help treat what's called 'bi pain' (i.e. painful obstruction) in TCM. This roughly corresponds to arthritic and rheumatic conditions with pain, stiffness and numbness of the bones, joints and muscles.

Furthermore Shen Jin Cao is Warm in nature. This means that Shen Jin Cao 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 Shen Jin Cao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Shen Jin Cao 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 Shen Jin Cao 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 Shen Jin Cao is thought to target the Spleen, the Kidney and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. 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 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.