English: Kochia fruits

Chinese: 地肤子

Parts used: The seeds or fruits

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Organ affinity: Bladder Kidney

Scientific name: Kochia scoparia

Other names: Broom cypress, Firebush, and Mexican firebrush, Summer cypress

Use of Di Fu Zi (kochia fruits) 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 fruits, remove impurities and dry

Dosage: 6-15g

Main actions according to TCM*: Encourages urination and dispels Damp-Heat. Drains Dampness and stop itching.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Di Fu Zi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Acute urinary tract infection Scanty urination Painful urination Eczema Scabies

Contraindications*: This herb should only be used when there is presence of Dampness and Heat.

Common TCM formulas in which Di Fu Zi is used*

Ku Shen Tang

Source date: 1806 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Dispels Wind. Dries Dampness. Kills parasites. Relieves itching.

Conditions targeted*: Atopic dermatitisSeborrheic dermatitis and others

Di Fu Zi is an assistant ingredient in Ku Shen Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Ku Shen Tang, Di Fu Zi expels Dampness and stop itching. 

Read more about Ku Shen Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Di Fu Zi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Di Fu Zi belongs to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Dampness that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Dampness accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore Di Fu Zi is Cold in nature. This means that Di Fu Zi 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 Di Fu Zi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Di Fu Zi also tastes Bitter and 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. Bitter ingredients like Di Fu Zi 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 Sweet ingredients tend 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 Di Fu Zi is thought to target the Bladder and the Kidney. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. 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.