English: Scallions

Chinese: 葱白

Parts used: Bulb

TCM category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Lung Stomach

Scientific name: Allium fistulosum

Other names: Green onion, Japanese bunching onion, Spring onion

Use of Cong Bai (scallions) 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 fibrous roots, leaves, stem and the outer layer of the bulb, use fresh.

Dosage: 9-15g

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Wind-Cold through sweating. Vitalizes the Yang Qi and disperses Cold. Removes toxicity of swellings.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Cong Bai may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Common cold Abdominal pain Nasal congestion Sores Abcesses

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used when there is spontaneous sweating.

Key TCM concepts behind Cong Bai's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Cong Bai belongs to the 'Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Warm/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by increasing the flow of sweat to our capillary pores. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category Cong Bai is Warm in nature. This means that Cong Bai tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. 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 Cong Bai can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Cong Bai 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 Cong Bai 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 Cong Bai is thought to target the Lung and the Stomach. 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. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.

Use of Cong Bai as food

Cong Bai is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Scallion Pancakes or Ginger Scallion Sauce.