English: Pine nuts

Chinese: 松子仁

Parts used: Seed kernel of Huashan pine, Korean pine or Masson pine

TCM category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Large intestine Liver Lung

Scientific name: Pinus semen

Use of Song Zi Ren (pine nuts) 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 edible part of the seeds and eat as such, or roasted, or transformed into paste.

Dosage: 10 ~15 g

Main actions according to TCM*: Strengthen Yang and replenishe bones, invigorate Qi, beautify the skin, moisten the Lungs and relieve cough , and moisten the Intestines and defecation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Song Zi Ren may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Thinness Shortness of breath Dry cough Phlegm Dry skin Dizziness Constipation Night sweats Palpitations

Contraindications*: Contraindicated in case of Damp-Phlegm

Common TCM formulas in which Song Zi Ren is used*

Wu Ren Wan

Source date: 1345 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Moistens the Intestines. Unblocks the movement of Stool.

Conditions targeted*: Irritable bowel syndromeVertigo and others

Song Zi Ren is a deputy ingredient in Wu Ren Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Wu Ren Wan, Song Zi Ren increases the capacity of the formula to moisten the Intestine along with other deputies. 

Read more about Wu Ren Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Song Zi Ren's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Song Zi Ren 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 Song Zi Ren is Warm in nature. This means that Song Zi Ren 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 Song Zi Ren can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Song Zi Ren 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 Song Zi Ren 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 Song Zi Ren is thought to target the Large intestine, the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Large Intestine receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. The Liver on the other hand 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. 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 Song Zi Ren as food

Song Zi Ren is also eaten as food.