English: Lotus stems

Chinese: 荷梗

Parts used: Dry stems

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Bladder Spleen

Scientific name: Nelumbo nucifera

Other names: Lian Geng

Use of He Geng (lotus stems) 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, soak in water, cut thick slices, dry.

Dosage: 10-15g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Summer-Heat. Regulate Qi in the Middle.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which He Geng may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Heatstroke Dysentery Gonorrhea Vaginal discharge

Common TCM formulas in which He Geng is used*

Qing Shu Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1852 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears summerheat. Augments the Qi. Nourishes the Yin. Generates Body Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: HyperthermiaHeat stroke and others

He Geng is a deputy ingredient in Qing Shu Yi Qi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Qing Shu Yi Qi Tang, He Geng assists Watermelon in clearing Heat and releasing Summer-Heat.

Read more about Qing Shu Yi Qi Tang

Key TCM concepts behind He Geng's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), He Geng belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat' 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 clear Heat and purge Fire treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category He Geng is Neutral in nature. This means that He Geng 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 He Geng means that you don't have to worry about that!

He Geng 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 He Geng 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 He Geng is thought to target the Bladder and the Spleen. 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 Spleen on the other hand assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body.