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: There are various methods of preparing this herb to neutralize its toxicity. 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*: Dispels Wind and Dampness. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold
Contraindications*: 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.
Source date: 220 AD
Number of ingredients: 6 herbs
Formula key actions: Warms the channels and remove obstruaction. Disperse Cold and Dampness. Warms the joints. Relieve joints pain.
Zhi Chuan Wu is a king ingredient in Wu Tou Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Wu Tou Tang, Zhi Chuan Wu is pungent, bitter and hot. It is a very powerful herb to remove Cold from the channels and release it from the Exterior. It is used to stop joint pain due to Cold obstructed in the joints. Together with Ephedra, they work closely to warms the Interior and fight against external Pernicious Influence.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Zhi Chuan Wu belongs to the 'Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness' category. These herbs typically help treat what's called 'bi pain' (i.e. painful obstruction) in TCM. This roughly corresponds to arthritic and rheumatic conditions with pain, stiffness and numbness of the bones, joints and muscles.
Furthermore Zhi Chuan Wu is Hot in nature. This means that Zhi Chuan Wu typically helps 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 Zhi Chuan Wu can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Zhi Chuan Wu also tastes Bitter and Pungent. 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. Bitter ingredients like Zhi Chuan Wu tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Pungent ingredients 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.
The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Zhi Chuan Wu is thought to target the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' 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. The Liver 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.