Feng Mi (Honey) in Chinese Medicine

English: Honey

Chinese: 蜂蜜

Parts used: Honey

TCM category: Laxative herbs that drain downward

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Stomach Large intestine Lung

Scientific name: Honey

Use of Feng Mi (honey) 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.

Main actions according to TCM*: Reinforces the spleen and stomach. Moistens dryness, relieves pain, and detoxifies.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Feng Mi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Abdominal pain Dry cough Constipation Hemorrhoids Burns

Common TCM formulas in which Feng Mi is used*

Ma Zi Ren Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Moistens the Intestines. Invigorates Qi. Unblocks the bowels. Drains Heat.

Conditions targeted*: Incomplete intestinal obstructionPostoperative ileus and others

Feng Mi is an envoy ingredient in Ma Zi Ren Wan. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

In Ma Zi Ren Wan, Feng Mi is sweet and it harmonizes the actions of the other herbs. It also moistens the Intestines and helps forming the pill shape. 

Read more about Ma Zi Ren Wan

Wu Tou Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms the channels and remove obstruaction. Disperse Cold and Dampness. Warms the joints. Relieve joints pain.

Conditions targeted*: Joint painJoint stiffness and others

Feng Mi is an envoy ingredient in Wu Tou Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

In Wu Tou Tang, Feng Mi harmonizes all the other herbs of the formula and detoxing. 

Read more about Wu Tou Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Feng Mi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Feng Mi belongs to the 'Laxative herbs that drain downward' category. The herbs in this category are those whose main purpose is to treat constipation. They're called 'laxative' because they're often rich in oils. This allows them to lubricate the Intestines in order to help it remove the stools from the body.

Furthermore Feng Mi is Neutral in nature. This means that Feng Mi 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 Feng Mi means that you don't have to worry about that!

Feng Mi also tastes 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. Sweet ingredients like Feng Mi tends 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 Feng Mi is thought to target the Stomach, the Large intestine and the Lung. In TCM the Stomach 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 Large Intestine on the other hand receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. 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 Feng Mi

Evidence suggests that sterilized honey may help healing in skin wounds after surgery and mild (partial thickness) burns.1

Honey is recommended for children over the age of one for the treatment of coughs. It is deemed as effective as dextromethorphan and more effective than diphenhydramine.2

Honey may be useful for controlling side effects of radiation therapy or chemotherapy applied in cancer treatment.3

Sources:

1. Jull, Andrew B.; Cullum, Nicky; Dumville, Jo C.; Westby, Maggie J.; Deshpande, Sohan; Walker, Natalie (2015). "Honey as a topical treatment for wounds". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (3): CD005083. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd005083.pub4.

2. Goldman, Ran D. (2014). "Honey for treatment of cough in children". Canadian Family Physician (Systematic review). 60 (12): 1107–1110. PMC 4264806. PMID 25642485.

3. Bardy J, Slevin NJ, Mais KL, Molassiotis A (2008). "A systematic review of honey uses and its potential value within oncology care". J Clin Nurs. 17 (19): 2604–23. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02304.x.

Use of Feng Mi as food

Feng Mi is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Honey-Butterscotch Candy or Salted Honey Pie.