Medicated leaven (Shen Qu) in Chinese Medicine

Medicated leaven

Chinese: 神曲

Pinyin: Shén Qū

Parts used: This is a fermented combination of wheat flour, Artemisia annua, Xanthium, Polygonum hydropiper and other herbs.

TCM category: Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Scientific name: Massa fermentata

Use of medicated leaven (Shen Qu) 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: Typically, medicated leaven consists of a mixture of wheat flower, artemisia annua, xanthium, polygonum and other herbs. Sometimes, it is made with mashed apricot kernels and artemisia. The mixture is covered, fermented for a period of one week, cut into small pieces, then dried in the sun.

Dosage: 9 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Assists the Stomach in removing Food Stagnation. Harmonizes the Earth element and improves digestion.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which medicated leaven may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Abdominal pain Abdominal colic Abdominal bloating Loss of appetite Diarrhea Stomach rumble

Contraindications*: This product should not be used by pregnant women nor by those with Stomach 'Fire.

Common TCM formulas in which medicated leaven are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind medicated leaven (Shen Qu)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), medicated leaven are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation' category. These herbs typically possess digestive and Food moving properties as they relate to the Stomach and Spleen. Some of these herbs are high in digestive enzymes and have varying specific abilities to help with the digestion of food.

Furthermore medicated leaven are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that medicated leaven tend 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 medicated leaven can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Medicated leaven also taste Pungent and Sweet. 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. Pungent ingredients like medicated leaven 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. On the other hand Sweet ingredients tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such medicated leaven are thought to target the Spleen and the Stomach. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.