English: Pear skins

Chinese: 梨皮

Parts used: The skin

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): PungentSweet

Organ affinity: Stomach Lung

Scientific name: Pyrus bretschneideri, Pyrus pyrifolia or Pyrus ussuriensis

Use of Li Pi (pear skins) 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: Peel the skin and use fresh or dried in the sun.

Dosage: 9g - 12g

Main actions according to TCM*: Moistens the Lungs and Stomach. Reduces Fire and produces Fluids.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Li Pi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Polydipsia Coughing Bloody sputum Bloody coughing Vomiting blood Back pain Boils

Common TCM formulas in which Li Pi is used*

Sang Xing Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears and disperses Dryness.

Conditions targeted*: Upper respiratory tract infectionsAcute bronchitis and others

Li Pi is an assistant ingredient in Sang Xing Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Sang Xing Tang, Li Pi nourishes the Yin and clear Heat. Together with the other assistant herb Glehnia root, they are cooling and moistening in nature. 

Read more about Sang Xing Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Li Pi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Li Pi belongs to the 'Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Yin tonics have a heavy, moist nature. They either nourish the Kidneys and Liver or moisten the Lungs and Stomach. Extreme Yin Deficiency often translates into a 'burn-out', unfortunately more and more common among people today. It is worth mentioning that another great remedy against Yin Deficiency is a lot of rest and sleep; no herb will ever be able to replace this!

Furthermore Li Pi is Cool in nature. This means that Li Pi tends to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. 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 Li Pi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Li Pi also tastes Pungent and 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. Pungent ingredients like Li Pi tends 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 Li Pi is thought to target the Stomach and the Lung. 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. 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.

Use of Li Pi as food

Li Pi is also eaten as food.