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: Harvest when the fruit is mature, remove impurities and dry
Dosage: 3 - 9 grams
Main actions according to TCM*: Stops coughing and wheezing, expels Phlegm and redirects Rebellious Lung Qi. Lubricates the Intestines.
Contraindications*: Should not be used when there is diarrhea.
Source date: 1856 AD
Number of ingredients: 3 herbs
Formula key actions: Directs the Qi downward. Transforms Phlegm. Reduces harbored food.
Zi Su Zi is a king ingredient in San Zi Yang Qin Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In San Zi Yang Qin Tang, Zi Su Zi directs the Lung Qi downward and thereby stops the coughing and wheezing.
Source date: 650 AD
Number of ingredients: 8 herbs
Formula key actions: Directs rebellious Qi downward. Arrests wheezing. Stops coughing. Warms and transforms Phlegm-Cold.
Zi Su Zi is a king ingredient in Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
Source date: 1550 AD
Number of ingredients: 9 herbs
Formula key actions: Clears Lung Heat. Expectorant for asthma.
Zi Su Zi is an assistant ingredient in Ding Chuan Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.
In Ding Chuan Tang, Zi Su Zi works together with Crow-dipper rhizome (Ban Xia) and Coltsfoot flower (Kuan Dong Hua) to support the key and deputy herbs in directing the Rebellious Qi downward, arresting the wheezing, and expelling Phlegm.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Zi Su Zi 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 Zi Su Zi is Warm in nature. This means that Zi Su Zi tends 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 Zi Su Zi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Zi Su Zi also tastes 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. Pungent ingredients like Zi Su Zi 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.
The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Zi Su Zi 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.
The seeds of Perilla frutescens have antioxidant properties, correlated with their phenolic compound content.1
1. JH Lee, KH Park, MH Lee, HT Kim, WD Seo, JY Kim et al. (2013) Identification, characterisation, and quantification of phenolic compounds in the antioxidant activity-containing fraction from the seeds of Korean perilla (Perilla frutescens) cultivars. Food Chemistry, 136(2), p. 843-852. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.08.057
Zi Su Zi is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Deulkkae Soondubu Jjigae (Soft Tofu Stew with Perilla Seeds).