English: Lacquer

Chinese: 干漆

Parts used: The resin residue

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Stomach Lung

Scientific name: Toxicodendron vernicifluum

Other names: Chinese lacquer tree, Urushi

Use of Gan Qi (lacquer) 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 resin and leave it dry in a pot. Then collect the residue at the bottom of the pot when the resin gets dry.

Dosage: 0.06-0.1g

Main actions according to TCM*: Breaks up Blood Stagnation, soften clumps and opens up the Channels. Kills parasites.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Gan Qi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Abdominal masses Amenorrhea Parasitic infestation Abdominal pain

Contraindications*: Contraindicated for these patients with Blood and Qi Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which Gan Qi is used*

Da Huang Zhe Chong Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Breaks up and dispels Blood Stagnation. Generates new Blood .

Conditions targeted*: Chronic hepatitisAlcoholic liver disease and others

Gan Qi is a deputy ingredient in Da Huang Zhe Chong Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Da Huang Zhe Chong Wan, Gan Qi assists the key ingredients by invigorating the Blood,
unblocking the Channels, and breaking up Blood Stagnation, thereby reducing the fixed abdominal masses.

Read more about Da Huang Zhe Chong Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Gan Qi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Gan Qi belongs to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stagnation when it causes certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore Gan Qi is Warm in nature. This means that Gan Qi tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Gan Qi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Gan Qi also tastes 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 Gan Qi 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 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 Gan Qi is thought to target the Stomach 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. 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.