Kuding tea

Chinese: 苦丁茶

Pinyin: Kǔ Dīnɡ Chá

Parts used: Dried leaves

TCM category: Herbs that anchor and calm the Spirit

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachLiverLung

Scientific name: Ligustrum robustum or Llex kaushue

Use of kuding tea (Ku Ding Cha) 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 practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Collect leaves and remove impurities. Dry them under the shade.

Dosage: 3-9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears wind-heat and Calms the spirit. Eases restlessness and brightens the eyes.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which kuding tea may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Headache Toothache Impaired vision Tinnitus Dysentery Excessive thirst Common cold Bronchitis Restlessness Conjunctivitis

Contraindications*: Not suitable for patients with Yin or Qi deficiency.

Key TCM concepts behind kuding tea (Ku Ding Cha)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), kuding tea are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that anchor and calm the Spirit' category. These herbs are substances that tranquilize the mind and treat symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, anxiety or insomnia. They tend to have sedative properties by weighing the Qi downwards and should generally be used for a limited time only.

Furthermore kuding tea are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that kuding tea typically help 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 kuding tea can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Kuding tea also taste Bitter and Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like kuding tea 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 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 kuding tea are thought to target the Stomach, the Liver 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 Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Research on kuding tea (Ku Ding Cha)

Some research suggests that Kuding tea, derived from either Ilex or Ligustrum, promotes blood circulation, lowers blood pressure, and lowers blood lipids, including cholesterol. It has also been found that Kuding tea made from L. robustum has similar anti-oxidative effects to tea in addition to additional anti-inflammatory properties.1

Sources:

1. LAU Kit Man; HE Zhendan; DONG Hui; FUNG Kwok Pui and BUT Pui Hay Paul, 2002. "Anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and hepato-protective effects of Ligustrum robustum", Journal of Ethnopharmacology. vol.83 pp.63-71.