English: Male fern rhizomes

Chinese: 贯众

Parts used: Rhizome or roots

TCM category: Herbs that expel parasites

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Stomach Liver

Scientific name: Dryopteris filix-mas

Other names: Dryopteris root, Shield fern, Wood-fern

Use of Guan Zhong (male fern rhizomes) 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: Slightly soak in clean water, remove, sprinkle water once in the morning and evening to moisten, cut into slices, and dry in the sun.

Dosage: 4.5-16g

Main actions according to TCM*: Kills parasites,

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Guan Zhong may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Tapeworm Roundworms Pinworms Liver fluke Threadworms Hookworms Measles Encephalitis Pneumonia Bleeding Abnormal uterine bleeding

Key TCM concepts behind Guan Zhong's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Guan Zhong belongs to the 'Herbs that expel parasites' category. Herbs in this category are used to treat roundworms, tapeworm, hookworm and other intestinal parasites. In most cases, these herbs should be combined with other herbs to assist their action such as 'Purgative herbs that drain downward' or Qi tonics. Typically these herbs should only be prescribed for a short period as they often have some level of toxicity.

Furthermore Guan Zhong is Cold in nature. This means that Guan Zhong 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 Guan Zhong can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Guan Zhong 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 Guan Zhong 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 Guan Zhong is thought to target the Stomach and the Liver. 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 the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.