English: Puffball

Chinese: 马勃

Parts used: The whole plant

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Lung

Scientific name: Lasiosphaera fenzlii, Calvatia gigantea or Calvatia lilacina

Other names: Lasiosphaera, Puff-ball

Use of Ma Bo (puffball) 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: Removes impurities and dry.

Dosage: 1-4g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Lung Fire and benefits the throat. Stops bleeding when applied externally.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ma Bo may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Sore throat Swollen throat Loss of voice Cough Mouth bleeding Bleeding gums Nosebleed

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by patients with loss of voice due to chronic cough when associated with Wind-Cold conditions.

Common TCM formulas in which Ma Bo is used*

Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin

Source date: 1202 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Toxic-Heat. Clears Wind-Heat .

Conditions targeted*: FurunclesCarbuncles and others

Ma Bo is a deputy ingredient in Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin, Ma Bo clear Heat from the throat and relieve the Toxic-Fire there.

Read more about Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin

Key TCM concepts behind Ma Bo's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ma Bo belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity' 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 relieve Toxicity treat the latter while, at the same time, removing infectious toxins from the body. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Ma Bo is Neutral in nature. This means that Ma Bo 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 Ma Bo means that you don't have to worry about that!

Ma Bo also tastes 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. Pungent ingredients like Ma Bo 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.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Ma Bo is thought to target the Lung. 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.