English: Perilla stems

Chinese: 紫苏梗

Parts used: The stem

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Stomach Lung

Scientific name: Perilla frutescens

Other names: Su Geng

Use of Zi Su Geng (perilla stems) 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: Collect the stem, remove impurities and dry

Dosage: 5-10g

Main actions according to TCM*: Invigorates Qi in the Middle Burners and relieves pain. Calms the fetus and prevents miscarriage.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Zi Su Geng may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Restless fetus Chest distention Abdominal distention Hypochondriac distention hypochondriac pain Hiccups Morning sickness

Common TCM formulas in which Zi Su Geng is used*

An Tai Zhu Gao

Source date: 1879 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Strengthens the Qi and Blood. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys. Calms the fetus.

Conditions targeted*: Restless fetus and others

Zi Su Geng is a deputy ingredient in An Tai Zhu Gao. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In An Tai Zhu Gao, Zi Su Geng invigorates Qi in the Middle Burner and relieves pain. It also calms the fetus and prevents miscarriage.

Read more about An Tai Zhu Gao

Key TCM concepts behind Zi Su Geng's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Zi Su Geng belongs to the 'Herbs that regulate Qi' category. Herbs in this category typically treat a TCM condition called 'Qi Stagnation'. Concretely it means that Qi is blocked in the body's Organs and Meridians, most typically the Stomach, Liver, and to a lesser extent, the Lungs. In modern medicine terms, Qi Stagnation often translates into psychological consequences such as depression, irritability or mood swings. It's also frequently associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, the development of breast swellings as well as various digestive disorders.

Furthermore Zi Su Geng is Warm in nature. This means that Zi Su Geng 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 Geng can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Zi Su Geng 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 Geng 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 Geng is thought to target the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Stomach on the other hand 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.