Maral roots

Chinese: 漏芦

Pinyin: Lòu Lú

Parts used: Dried root

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterSalty

Meridian affinity: StomachLarge intestine

Scientific name: Rhaponticum uniflorum

Use of maral roots (Lòu Lú) 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: Remove impurities, wash, cut in thick slices and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 12 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Expels Heat and reduces toxic swellings. Increases the flow of mothers' milk.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which maral roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Mastitis Sores Clogged milk ducts Carbuncles Swollen lymph nodes

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by pregnant women nor by those with Deficient Qi.

Common TCM formulas in which maral roots are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind maral roots' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), maral roots are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity' 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 '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 relieve Toxicity treat the latter while, at the same time, removing infectious toxins from the body. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category maral roots are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that maral roots 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 maral roots can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Maral roots also taste Bitter and Salty. 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 maral roots 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 Salty ingredients tend 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 maral roots are thought to target the Stomach and the Large intestine. 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 Large Intestine on the other hand receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces.

Research on maral roots

Rhaponticum Uniflorum has antioxidative effects.1

Sources:

1. LIU Chun-yan, JIN Ai-hua, QUAN Ji-shu (2012). Antioxidative Effect of Rhaponticum Uniflorum Water Extract in Vitro. Food Research and Development, 2012-03.