English: Pipewort flowers

Chinese: 谷精草

Parts used: Whole plant

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Stomach Liver

Scientific name: Peduncle of Eriocaulon buergerianum

Other names: Buerger pipewort flower, Eriocaulon Flower, Eriocaulaceae

Use of Gu Jing Cao (pipewort flowers) 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 plant, remove impurities, clean and dry.

Dosage: 4-15g

Main actions according to TCM*: Disperses Wind-Heat in the Liver Channel. Brightens the eyes and eliminates superficial visual obstruction.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Gu Jing Cao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Red eyes Swollen eyes Spots in the vision Cataracts Photosensitivity Blurred vision Excessive tearing Pterygium Headache Toothache

Contraindications*: This product is not recommended for individuals with eye diseases caused by Blood Deficiency or those with metabolic Deficiency, and it should not come into contact with iron.

Key TCM concepts behind Gu Jing Cao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Gu Jing Cao belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat' 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 purge Fire treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Gu Jing Cao is Warm in nature. This means that Gu Jing Cao 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 Gu Jing Cao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Gu Jing Cao 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 Gu Jing Cao 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 Gu Jing Cao is thought to target the Stomach 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 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.