English: Praying Mantis Egg-Cases

Chinese: 桑螵蛸

Parts used: Dried egg capsule

TCM category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): SaltySweet

Organ affinity: Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Tenodera sinesis, Statilia maculata or Hierodula patellifera

Other names: Sang Piao Xiao

Use of Sang Piao Shao (praying mantis egg-cases) 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 all the debris so you're left with a clean egg capsule. Dry, ideally under the sun.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies Kidneys and strengthens Yang. Restrains Essence and decreases urination.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Sang Piao Shao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Nocturnal emission Spermatorrhea Enuresis Urinary incontinence

Contraindications*: Not to be used for Excessive Fire or Deficient Yin patterns or cystitis.

Common TCM formulas in which Sang Piao Shao is used*

Sang Piao Xiao San

Source date: 1116 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Regulates and tonifies the Heart and Kidneys. Stabilizes the Essence. Stops leakage.

Conditions targeted*: Pediatric enuresisDiabetes and others

Sang Piao Shao is a king ingredient in Sang Piao Xiao San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Sang Piao Xiao San, Sang Piao Shao tonifies the Kidneys and Gate of Vitality, stabilizes the Essence, and stops leakage.

It attacks both the root and branch of the pattern treated by this formula and is a specific medicinal for both enuresis in children and cloudy urine.

Read more about Sang Piao Xiao San

Tu Si Zi Wan

Source date: 1253 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms the Kidneys. Prevents abnormal leakage such as urinary incontinence or seminal emissions.

Conditions targeted*: Urinary incontinenceSeminal emission and others

Sang Piao Shao is an assistant ingredient in Tu Si Zi Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Tu Si Zi Wan, Sang Piao Shao assists the key herbs in strengthening the Kidney Qi. 

Read more about Tu Si Zi Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Sang Piao Shao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Sang Piao Shao 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 Sang Piao Shao is Neutral in nature. This means that Sang Piao Shao 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 Sang Piao Shao means that you don't have to worry about that!

Sang Piao Shao also tastes Salty and 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. Salty ingredients like Sang Piao Shao tends to have a draining effect in the body because they clear accumulations, remove Phlegm and soften hard lumps. On the other hand Sweet ingredients tend 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 Sang Piao Shao is thought to target the Kidney and the Liver. 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 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.

Research on Sang Piao Shao

Ziyin Tongbi Decoction (consisting of praying mantis egg-case) is effective and safe for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.1


1. Guo J, Song CS, Han Q. (2008). Clinical observation on ziyin tongbi decoction in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 28(12):1082-5.