English: Poppy capsules

Chinese: 罂粟壳

Parts used: The capsule

TCM category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): PungentSour

Organ affinity: Kidney Large intestine Lung

Scientific name: Papaver somniferum

Other names: Opium poppy capsule, breadseed poppy capsule

Use of Ying Su Ke (poppy capsules) 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 seeds as well as other impurities and dry.

Dosage: 3-6g

Main actions according to TCM*: Astringes the Lungs, Astringes the Intestines. Stops pain.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ying Su Ke may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Chronic diarrhea Chronic dysentery Chronic cough Pain Abdominal pain

Contraindications*: Contraindicated for acute dysentery or coughs. It should not be taken for a prolonged period and dosage should be strictly regulated, as it contains trace amounts of morphine,

Common TCM formulas in which Ying Su Ke is used*

Jiu Xian San

Source date: Yuan dynasty

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Secures the Lungs. Stops coughing. Augments Qi . Nourishes Yin.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic bronchitisAsthma and others

Ying Su Ke is a king ingredient in Jiu Xian San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Jiu Xian San, Ying Su Ke is astringent and sour. In fact, it is the most effective herb in restraining the Lungs and stopping coughing. Frying it in honey increases its moistening quality and helps it to transform Phlegm.

As this herb is illegal in most countries, it can be replaced by other herbs that restrains the Lungs such as Terminalia fruits or Ginkgo nuts

Read more about Jiu Xian San

Key TCM concepts behind Ying Su Ke's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ying Su Ke belongs to the 'Herbs that stabilize and bind' category. This category of herbs is used for treating abnormal discharges and displacement of Organs. This includes conditions such as diarrhea, discharges from the vagina, penis or rectum as well as prolapse of the Uterus or rectum. It is important to note that herbs in this category only treat symptoms, so one should also use herbs to treat the underlying Deficiency.

Furthermore Ying Su Ke is Neutral in nature. This means that Ying Su Ke typically doesn't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of Ying Su Ke means that you don't have to worry about that!

Ying Su Ke also tastes Pungent and Sour. 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 Ying Su Ke 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 Sour ingredients help with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Ying Su Ke is thought to target the Kidney, the Large intestine and the Lung. According to TCM, the Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Large Intestine on the other hand receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. 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.