Sichuan chinaberries

Chinese: 川楝子

Pinyin: Chuān Liàn Zi

Parts used: Dried ripe fruit

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Spleen Liver Small intestine

Scientific name: Melia toosendan

Other names: Jin Ling Zi

Use of sichuan chinaberries (Chuan Lian Zi) 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 impurities and dry the fruit. Smash before use.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Damp Heat. Circulates Qi. Relieves chest, epigastric and abdominal pains. Expels parasites.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which sichuan chinaberries may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Epigastric pain Abdominal pain Chest pain Hernial pain Parasites Athletes' foot Tinea Intestinal parasites

Contraindications*: Slightly toxic: an overdose can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dyspnea and heart irregularities. Not for Cold Deficiency of the Stomach and Spleen.

Common TCM formulas in which sichuan chinaberries (Chuan Lian Zi) are used*

Jin Ling Zi San

Source date: 992 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Formula key actions: Moves Liver Blood and Liver Qi. Drains Liver Heat or Fire. Stops pain.

Conditions targeted*: Peptic ulcersChronic gastritis and others

Chuan Lian Zi is a king ingredient in Jin Ling Zi San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Jin Ling Zi San, Chuan Lian Zi clears Heat from the chest, hypochondrium, and groin area by draining it through the urine. When the Heat has been removed, and the Fire Stagnation resolved, the Liver can once again carry out its regulating function.

Read more about Jin Ling Zi San

Key TCM concepts behind sichuan chinaberries (Chuan Lian Zi)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), sichuan chinaberries are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that regulate Qi' category. Herbs in this category typically treat a TCM condition called 'Qi Stagnation'. Concretely it means that Qi is blocked in the body's Organs and Meridians, most typically the Stomach, Liver, and to a lesser extent, the Lungs. In modern medicine terms, Qi Stagnation often translates into psychological consequences such as depression, irritability or mood swings. It's also frequently associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, the development of breast swellings as well as various digestive disorders.

Furthermore sichuan chinaberries are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that sichuan chinaberries typically help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition sichuan chinaberries can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Sichuan chinaberries also taste Bitter. 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. Bitter ingredients like sichuan chinaberries tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such sichuan chinaberries are thought to target the Spleen, the Liver and the Small intestine. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. Like the Stomach, the Small Intestine has a digestive role, extracting the "pure" part of what we injest to the Spleen and the "impure" down to the Large Intestine.