English: Magnetite

Chinese: 磁石

Parts used: The mineral power

TCM category: Herbs that anchor and calm the Spirit

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Salty

Organ affinity: Heart Kidney Liver Lung

Scientific name: Magnetite

Other names: Magnetitum, Lodestone

Use of Ci Shi (magnetite) 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 mineral and remove imperatives. Crush to power before use.

Dosage: 9-30g

Main actions according to TCM*: Calms and sedates the spirit. Pacifies the Liver and calms the rising Liver Yang. Helps the Kidneys grasp Lung Qi. Improves hearing and eyesight.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ci Shi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Insomnia Restlessness Tremors Convulsions Irritability Dizziness Vertigo Tinnitus Blurred vision Asthma Deafness Impaired hearing Convulsions in children

Contraindications*: Should not be used long term.

Common TCM formulas in which Ci Shi is used*

Ci Zhu Wan

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Heavily sedates and calms the Mind . Pacifies Rising Yang . Improves the vision and hearing.

Conditions targeted*: CataractsOptic nerve atrophy and others

Ci Shi is a king ingredient in Ci Zhu Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Ci Zhu Wan, Ci Shi is salty, cold, and heavy. It enters the Kidneys, anchors and calms the Mind, pacifies the Rising Yang while
nourishing the Yin, and improves the acuity of hearing and vision.

Cinnabar is red and corresponds to the Fire phase, like the Heart. Magnetite is black and corresponds to the water phase, like the Kidneys.

Together, they anchor the Mind and pacify the floating Heart Yang so that it can interact with the Kidneys. In this manner, the Fire in the Heart is controlled and the Essence in the Kidneys is able to rise, which gradually resolves the condition. 

Read more about Ci Zhu Wan

Zi Xue Dan

Source date: 752 AD

Number of ingredients: 17 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat. Opens the sensory orifices. Controls spasms and convulsions. Extinguishes Wind.

Conditions targeted*: Acute encephalitisAcute meningitis and others

Ci Shi is an assistant ingredient in Zi Xue Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Zi Xue Dan, Ci Shi sedates the Heart and calms the Mind, which strengthens the formula's action in eliminating irritability. 

Read more about Zi Xue Dan

Key TCM concepts behind Ci Shi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ci Shi belongs 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 Ci Shi is Cold in nature. This means that Ci Shi 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 Ci Shi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Ci Shi also tastes Salty. 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. Salty ingredients like Ci Shi tends to have a draining effect in the body because they clear accumulations, remove Phlegm and soften hard lumps.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Ci Shi is thought to target the Heart, the Kidney, the Liver and the Lung. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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. 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. 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.