English: Stachyurus stem piths

Chinese: 小通草

Parts used: Dried stem piths

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Stomach Lung

Scientific name: Stachyurus himalaicus or Stachyurus chinensis

Use of Xiao Tong Cao (stachyurus stem piths) 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: Take stems, remove impurities and cut to sections. Remove bark, take fresh piths and dry them.

Dosage: 3 - 6 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Removes heat, induces urination and promotes lactation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Xiao Tong Cao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Oliguria Urinary tract infection Clogged milk ducts Mastitis Low milk supply Galactostasis

Contraindications*: Not suitable for patients with Qi deficiency or without Damp-Heat.

Key TCM concepts behind Xiao Tong Cao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Xiao Tong Cao belongs to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Dampness that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Dampness accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore Xiao Tong Cao is Cold in nature. This means that Xiao Tong Cao 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 Xiao Tong Cao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Xiao Tong Cao also tastes 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. Sweet ingredients like Xiao Tong Cao tends 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 Xiao Tong Cao 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.

Use of Xiao Tong Cao as food

Xiao Tong Cao is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Chiken soup cooked with Stachyurus piths.