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 whole plant and dry
Main actions according to TCM*: Expels Toxic-Heat, drains pus and clear Phlegm and abscesses. Invigorate Blood and relieves pain caused by Blood Stagnation. Reduces inflammation.
Contraindications*: Not suitable for patients with diarrhea, lack of appetite or digestive weakness associated with Spleen and Stomach Deficiency.
Source date: 220 AD
Number of ingredients: 3 herbs
Formula key actions: Expels pus and reduces abscesses. Warms the Yang. Disperses clumping.
Bai Jiang Cao is a deputy ingredient in Yi Yi Fu Zi Bai Jiang San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
In Yi Yi Fu Zi Bai Jiang San, Bai Jiang Cao acrid and slightly cold and is able to reduce Blood Stagnation and abscesses from the bowels and Lower Burner. It focuses the action of the key ingredient on the Intestines, the resolution of abscesses, and the draining of pus.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Bai Jiang Cao belongs 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 '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 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 Bai Jiang Cao is Cold in nature. This means that Bai Jiang Cao 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 Bai Jiang Cao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Bai Jiang Cao also tastes Bitter and Pungent. 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 Bai Jiang Cao tends 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 Pungent ingredients 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.
The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Bai Jiang Cao is thought to target the Stomach, the Large intestine 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 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. The Liver 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.