English: Stellaria Roots

Chinese: 银柴胡

Parts used: Root

TCM category: Herbs that cool the Blood

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Organ affinity: Stomach Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Stellaria dichotoma

Other names: Starwort Root

Use of Yin Chai Hu (stellaria 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: Collect the roots. remove impurities, wash, soak in water, cut thick slices, dry.

Dosage: 3-9g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Yin Deficient Heat. Clears Heat in the aftermath of febrile diseases. Clears Heat caused by malnutrition in children. Cools the Blood when there is reckless movement of Blood.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Yin Chai Hu may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Fever Night sweats Childhood malnutrition Blood in urine Nosebleed Abnormal uterine bleeding Bloody sputum

Contraindications*: Contraindicated for patients with common cold or flu or these with Blood Deficiency but no clear Heat sign.

Common TCM formulas in which Yin Chai Hu is used*

Qing Gu San

Source date: 1602 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat from Deficiency. Alleviates steaming bone disorder.

Conditions targeted*: TuberculosisPostwound fevers and others

Yin Chai Hu is a king ingredient in Qing Gu San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Qing Gu San, Yin Chai Hu is sweet and slightly cold. It reduces the fever from Yin Deficiency without any of the draining tendencies that could further injure Yin.

Read more about Qing Gu San

Key TCM concepts behind Yin Chai Hu's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Yin Chai Hu belongs to the 'Herbs that cool the Blood' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that cool the Blood treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Yin Chai Hu is Cool in nature. This means that Yin Chai Hu tends to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. 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 Yin Chai Hu can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Yin Chai Hu also tastes Bitter 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 Yin Chai Hu 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 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 Yin Chai Hu is thought to target the Stomach, the Kidney and the Liver. 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. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Liver 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.