English: Indian madder roots

Chinese: 茜草

Parts used: Dried roots and rhizomes

TCM category: Herbs that cool the Blood

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Liver

Scientific name: Rubia cordifolia

Other names: Common madder, Manjistha, Majith, Tamaralli, Manditti

Use of Qian Cao (indian madder roots) 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, and dry.

Dosage: 3 to 9 g

Main actions according to TCM*: Cools the Blood and stops bleeding. Removes Blood Stagnation and regulates menstruation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Qian Cao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Hematemesis Epistaxis Abnormal uterine bleeding Traumatic bleeding Amenorrhea Arthralgia Traumatic swelling Traumatic pain

Common TCM formulas in which Qian Cao is used*

Shi Hui San

Source date: 1348g

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Cools the Blood and . Stops bleeding. Clears Heat and drains Fire.

Conditions targeted*: Pulmonary tuberculosisBronchiectasis and others

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

In Shi Hui San, Qian Cao , together with other deputy herbs, cools the Blood and stop bleeding.

Together with the key herbs, it clear the Heat that is the source of the  bleeding problem while also stopping the bleeding.

Read more about Shi Hui San

Gu Chong Tang

Source date: 1918-1934

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Augments Qi . Strengthens the Spleen. Stabilizes the Penetrating Vessel. Stops bleeding.

Conditions targeted*: Dysfunctional uterine bleedingPostpartum bleeding and others

Qian Cao is an assistant ingredient in Gu Chong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Gu Chong Tang, Qian Cao stops bleeding and invigorates the Blood. It is therefore able to prevent the formation of Blood Stagnation

Read more about Gu Chong Tang

Xuan Fu Hua Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Formula key actions: Unblocks the Yang. Expands the chest. Removes and transforms Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic hepatitisPersistent hepatitis and others

Qian Cao is an assistant ingredient in Xuan Fu Hua Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Xuan Fu Hua Tang, Qian Cao enters the Liver Channel to invigorate the Blood and transform Stagnation. It focuses the action of the Qi-moving herbs on the Blood Level, thereby enabling the formula to achieve its objectives of unblocking the Stagnation and opening the Qi dynamic.

Read more about Xuan Fu Hua Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Qian Cao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qian Cao belongs to the 'Herbs that cool the Blood' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that cool the Blood treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Qian Cao is Cold in nature. This means that Qian Cao 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 Qian Cao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Qian Cao also tastes Bitter. 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 Qian Cao tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Qian Cao 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.