English: Sea buckthorn fruits

Chinese: 沙棘

Parts used: Dried ripe fruits

TCM category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Sour

Organ affinity: Spleen Stomach Heart Lung

Scientific name: Hippophae rhamnoides

Use of Sha Ji (sea buckthorn fruits) 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: Collect the ripe fruits and dry them.

Dosage: 3 - 10 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Expels phlegm and stops coughing. Strengthens the Spleen and smooths digestion. Activates Blood circulation and eliminates Blood stasis.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Sha Ji may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Loss of appetite Indigestion Abdominal pain Coughing Phlegm Amenorrhea Muscle cramps Edema Carbuncles

Key TCM concepts behind Sha Ji's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Sha Ji belongs to the 'Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough' category. In TCM Phlegm is a condition of Stagnation of Fluids which tends to start in the Spleen and then goes to the Lungs. If this overly accumulates it thickens and becomes pathological Phlegm. Phlegm, being a form of Stagnation, often starts as being Cool and transforms to Hot as the condition progresses. The herbs in this category are Warm in nature so they treat the early stages of the Stagnation: Cold-Phlegm and Wet-Phlegm with symptoms of wheezing, vomiting and nausea.

As suggested by its category Sha Ji is Warm in nature. This means that Sha Ji 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 Sha Ji can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Sha Ji also tastes Sour. 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. Sour ingredients like Sha Ji helps with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Sha Ji is thought to target the Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in 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. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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.

Research on Sha Ji

Animal and human studies suggest that sea buckthorn may have various beneficial effects: cardioprotective, anti-atherogenic, antioxidant, anti-cancer, immunomodulatory, anti-bacterial, antiviral, wound healing and anti-inflammatory.1


1. Chirstaki, Efterpi (2002). "Hippophae Rhamnoides L. (Sea Buckthorn): a Potential Source of Nutraceuticals". Food and Public Health. 2 (3): 69–72. doi:10.5923/j.fph.20120203.02.

Use of Sha Ji as food

Sha Ji is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Panna Cotta Sea Buckthorn Cake.