English: Mulberry bark

Chinese: 桑白皮

Parts used: Dried root bark

TCM category: Herbs that cool the Blood

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Lung

Scientific name: Mori alba

Use of Sang Bai Pi (mulberry bark) 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: Remove the rough skin, soak in water, cut in sections and dry

Dosage: 9-15g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears heat from the lung, relieves asthma and induce urination to disperse swelling

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Sang Bai Pi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Coughing Dry cough Whooping cough Asthma Oliguria

Common TCM formulas in which Sang Bai Pi is used*

Wu Pi Yin

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Reduces edema, diuretic. Regulates and strengthens Spleen Qi.

Conditions targeted*: Pre-eclampsiaProtein-deficiency edema and others

Sang Bai Pi is a king ingredient in Wu Pi Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Wu Pi Yin, Sang Bai Pi promotes urination by directing the Lung Qi downward and opening up the water pathways.

Read more about Wu Pi Yin

Xie Bai San

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Drains Heat from the Lungs . Calms wheezing.

Conditions targeted*: Early stage measlesPneumonia and others

Sang Bai Pi is a king ingredient in Xie Bai San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Xie Bai San, Sang Bai Pi drains stagnant Heat from the Lungs and thereby stops the coughing and wheezing.

It combines a moistening nature with an acrid flavor, allowing it to drain Heat without damaging the Lungs, which is regarded as the 'tender organ.'

This is particularly suitable in a formula directed specifically at children. 

Read more about Xie Bai San

Ding Chuan Tang

Source date: 1550 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Lung Heat. Expectorant for asthma.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic bronchitisAsthma and others

Sang Bai Pi is a deputy ingredient in Ding Chuan Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

Read more about Ding Chuan Tang

Jiu Xian San

Source date: Yuan dynasty

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Secures the Lungs. Stops coughing. Augments Qi . Nourishes Yin.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic bronchitisAsthma and others

Sang Bai Pi is an assistant ingredient in Jiu Xian San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Jiu Xian San, Sang Bai Pi stop the coughing, transform Phlegm, and direct the Rebellious Qi downward to calm the wheezing.

It also clears Lung Heat.

Read more about Jiu Xian San

Key TCM concepts behind Sang Bai Pi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Sang Bai Pi belongs to the 'Herbs that cool the Blood' 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 'Internal 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 cool the Blood treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Sang Bai Pi is Cold in nature. This means that Sang Bai Pi 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 Sang Bai Pi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Sang Bai Pi also tastes Sweet. 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. Sweet ingredients like Sang Bai Pi tends 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 Sang Bai Pi is thought to target the Lung. 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.