Scallions

Chinese: 葱白

Pinyin: Cōng Bái

Parts used: Bulb

TCM category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: StomachLung

Scientific name: Allium fistulosum

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

Use of scallions (Cōng Bái) 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: 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 scallions 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.

Common TCM formulas in which scallions are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind scallions' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), scallions are plants that belong 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 scallions are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that scallions tend 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 scallions can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Scallions also taste Pungent. 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 scallions 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 scallions are thought to target the Stomach and the Lung. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Use of scallions as food

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