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 melon stalk, remove impurities, clean and dry
Main actions according to TCM*: Inducing vomiting to expel Phlegm Heat or stagnant food. Dispels Damp-Heat and relieves jaundice.
Primary conditions or symptoms for which Gua Di may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Seizures Mania Throat pain Wheezing Irritability Insomnia Food stagnation Abdominal distention Chest distention Epigastric distention
Contraindications*: Contraindicated during pregnancy and postpartum. It should only be used when there are obvious Excessive Real Heat symptoms.
Source date: 220 AD
Number of ingredients: 3 herbs
Formula key actions: Discharges Phlegm or food stagnation through vomiting .
Gua Di is a king ingredient in Gua Di San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Gua Di San, Gua Di is bitter and effectively induces vomiting to eliminate the Phlegm or stagnant food.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Gua Di belongs to the 'Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough' category. In TCM Phlegm is a condition of Stagnation of Fluids which tends to start in the Spleen and then goes to the Lungs. If this overly accumulates it thickens and becomes pathological Phlegm. Phlegm, being a form of Stagnation, often starts as being Cool and transforms to Hot as the condition progresses. The herbs in this category are Warm in nature so they treat the early stages of the Stagnation: Cold-Phlegm and Wet-Phlegm with symptoms of wheezing, vomiting and nausea.
As suggested by its category Gua Di is Cold in nature. This means that Gua Di 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 Gua Di can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Gua Di 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 Gua Di 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 Gua Di is thought to target the Stomach. 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.