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Rock sugar (Bing Tang) in Chinese Medicine

Rock sugar

Chinese: 冰糖

Pinyin: Bīng Táng

Parts used: The whole thing

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Spleen Lung

Scientific name: Saccharum cristallisatum

Other names: Rock candy, Crystal sugar

Use of rock sugar (Bing Tang) 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: Ice-like crystals are produced by decocting sugar.

Dosage: 10 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies Qi and moisturizes the Lungs. Relieves cough and resolves Phlegm.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which rock sugar may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Coughing Dysentery Malaria Sore throat

Common TCM formulas in which rock sugar (Bing Tang) are used*

Yi Wei Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Strengthen the Stomach. Creates Body Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic gastritisDiabetes and others

Bing Tang is an assistant ingredient in Yi Wei Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Yi Wei Tang, Bing Tang moistens the Lungs and strengthen the Stomach. It is a primarily sweet substance for moderating the actions of the other herbs.

Read more about Yi Wei Tang

Key TCM concepts behind rock sugar (Bing Tang)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), rock sugar are plants that belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Qi tonics are typically sweet and they tend to enter the Spleen and Lungs because these Organs are most involved with the production of Qi.

Furthermore rock sugar are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that rock sugar typically don'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 rock sugar means that you don't have to worry about that!

Rock sugar also taste 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. Sweet ingredients like rock sugar 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 rock sugar are thought to target the Spleen and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. 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.

Use of rock sugar (Bing Tang) as food

Rock sugar are also eaten as food.