Prepared aconite

Chinese: 制附子

Pinyin: Zhì Fù Zǐ

Parts used: Processed daughter root

TCM category: Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold

TCM nature: Hot

TCM taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidney

Scientific name: Aconitum carmichaeli

Other names: Carmichael's monkshood, Chinese wolfsbane

Use of prepared aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) 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 practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: There are various methods of preparing this herb to neutralize its toxicity. In one method it is treated with salt and then boiled with Licorice and black soya beans. In any case it absolutely needs to be boiled for at least 1 hour in order to reduce its toxicity.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which prepared aconite may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Weak pulse Fatigue Impotence Arthralgia Vomiting Diarrhea Numbness of limbs

Contraindications*: Should not be used by those with Yin Deficiency, with true Heat, with false chills or during pregnancy. This is a toxic herb so it shouldn't be taken in large doses and it needs to be prepared adequately by a TCM professional before ingestion.

Common TCM formulas in which prepared aconite are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind prepared aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), prepared aconite are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold' category. Herbs in this category are used for Internal Coldness with Qi and Yang Deficiency. In the Yin and Yang system of thought (see our explanation on Yin and Yang) Yang is Hot in nature. A deficiency of Yang will therefore lead to Internal Coldness since there will as a result be more Yin (Cold in nature) than Yang. In extreme cases this can lead to so-called 'Yang collapse' with convulsions or coma and these herbs are particularly indicated to treat such scenarios.

As suggested by its category prepared aconite are plants that are Hot in nature. This means that prepared aconite typically help people who have too much "cold" in their body. 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 prepared aconite can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Prepared aconite also taste Pungent and Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like prepared aconite tend 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 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 prepared aconite are thought to target the Spleen, the Heart and the Kidney. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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.