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Hogfennel roots

Chinese: 前胡

Pinyin: Qián Hú

Parts used: Dried root and rhizome

TCM category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Lung

Scientific name: Peucedanum praeruptorum radix

Other names: Peucedanum Root, Asian Masterwort Root

Use of hogfennel roots (Qian Hu) 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, cut into sections and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Directs the ascending flow of Lung Qi downward to stop cough. Expels Phlegm. Expels Wind and relieves the Exterior for Wind-Heat.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which hogfennel roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Sputum Coughing Wheezing Asthma Phlegm Chest congestion

Contraindications*: This herb should be used with caution by those without true Heat signs.

Common TCM formulas in which hogfennel roots (Qian Hu) are used*

Xing Su San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Dry-Cold. Disseminates the Lung Qi and relieves cough. Transforms thin mucus.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldBronchitis and others

Qian Hu is a deputy ingredient in Xing Su San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Xing Su San, Qian Hu assists the key herbs (Apricot seeds and Perilla Leaves) by directing the Qi downward and releasing the Exterior.

Read more about Xing Su San

Key TCM concepts behind hogfennel roots (Qian Hu)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), hogfennel roots are plants that belong to the 'Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough' category. In TCM Phlegm is a condition of Stagnation of Fluids which tends to start in the Spleen and then goes to the Lungs. If this overly accumulates it thickens and becomes pathological Phlegm. Phlegm, being a form of Stagnation, often starts as being Cool and transforms to Hot as the condition progresses. The herbs in this category are Cold in nature so they treat the later stages of the Stagnation: Hot and Dry-Phlegm with symptoms such as cough, goiter or scrofula.

As suggested by its category hogfennel roots are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that hogfennel 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 hogfennel roots can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Hogfennel roots also taste 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 hogfennel 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 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 hogfennel roots are thought to target the Spleen and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on hogfennel roots (Qian Hu)

The crude extract and pure compounds from Peucedani Radix exhibited a wide spectrum of in vitro and in vivo pharmacological activities, including vasorelaxant, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, anti-tumor and anti-platelet aggregative effects.1


1. Song Y, Jing W, Yan R, Wang Y. (2015). Research progress of the studies on the roots of Peucedanum praeruptorum dunn (Peucedani radix). Pak J Pharm Sci. , 28(1):71-81.