English: Snake gourd roots

Chinese: 天花粉

Parts used: Dried root

TCM category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterSourSweet

Organ affinity: Stomach Lung

Scientific name: Trichosanthes kirilowii or Trichosanthes rosthornii

Use of Tian Hua Fen (snake gourd roots) 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: Wash, remove the skin, cut into sections or longitudinally into petals and dry.

Dosage: 9 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Heat in the Lungs and moistens Dryness, especially when there is Phlegm that is aggravating the condition. Brings down inflammation and reduces pus.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Tian Hua Fen may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Dry cough Bloody sputum Inflammation of the stomach Inflammation of the lungs Sores Carbuncles

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by pregnant women, by those without Heat or by those with diarrhea.

Common TCM formulas in which Tian Hua Fen is used*

Bei Mu Gua Lou San

Source date: 1732 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Moistens the Lungs. Clears Heat. Regulates Qi. Resolve Phlegm.

Conditions targeted*: PneumoniaPulmonary tuberculosis and others

Tian Hua Fen is an assistant ingredient in Bei Mu Gua Lou San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Bei Mu Gua Lou San, Tian Hua Fen clears Heat, creates Body Fluids, and transforms Phlegm. It
tonifies the physiological Body Fluids formation without creating more Phlegm.

Read more about Bei Mu Gua Lou San

Chai Hu Gui Jiang Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Harmonizes and releases the Lesser Yang. Removes Stagnation . Warms the Interior. Dispels Cold.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldMalaria and others

Tian Hua Fen is an assistant ingredient in Chai Hu Gui Jiang Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Chai Hu Gui Jiang Tang, Tian Hua Fen promotes Qi circulation in the Middle Burner

Snake gourd root enriches the Fluids of the Stomach, which have been damaged by Heat constraint.

Read more about Chai Hu Gui Jiang Tang

Xia Ru Yong Quan San

Source date: 1840 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Blood. Increases breast milk supply.

In Xia Ru Yong Quan San, Tian Hua Fen nourishes Body Fluids

Read more about Xia Ru Yong Quan San

Key TCM concepts behind Tian Hua Fen's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Tian Hua Fen belongs to the 'Cool 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 Cold in nature so they treat the later stages of the Stagnation: Hot and Dry-Phlegm with symptoms such as cough, goiter or scrofula.

As suggested by its category Tian Hua Fen is Cold in nature. This means that Tian Hua Fen typically helps 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 Tian Hua Fen can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Tian Hua Fen also tastes Bitter, Sour and 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. Bitter ingredients like Tian Hua Fen tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Sour ingredients help with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating. Lastly Sweet ingredients 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 Tian Hua Fen is 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 in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.