English: Sweetgum fruits

Chinese: 路路通

Parts used: Dried ripe fruits

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Stomach Liver

Scientific name: Liquidambar formosana

Other names: Taiwan maple fruit, Liquidamber fruit, Beautiful sweetgum fruit, Liquidambar

Use of Lu Lu Tong (sweetgum 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: Harvest after the fruit ripens in winter, remove the impurities, clean and dry.

Dosage: 3-9g

Main actions according to TCM*: Moves Qi and Blood, unblocks the channels and opens the Middle Burner. Relieves Wind-Dampness with painful obstruction and stiffness of the lower back and knees. Promote lactation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Lu Lu Tong may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Low milk supply Irregular menstruation Scanty menstruation Traumatic injuries Allergic rhinitis Epigastric pain Abdominal distention Stiff lower back Stiff knees Nasal congestion Edema with urinary dysfunction Skin allergy Nasal allergy

Contraindications*: This substance should not be used during pregnancy or by those experiencing heavy menstruation. It should also be used with caution as it may cause heart palpitations.

Key TCM concepts behind Lu Lu Tong's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Lu Lu Tong belongs to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stagnation when it causes certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore Lu Lu Tong is Neutral in nature. This means that Lu Lu Tong typically doesn't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of Lu Lu Tong means that you don't have to worry about that!

Lu Lu Tong also tastes 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 Lu Lu Tong tends 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 Lu Lu Tong is thought to target the Stomach 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 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.