English: Tabasheer

Chinese: 天竺黄

Parts used: The dried masses secretion in the stem of bamboo

TCM category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Heart Liver

Scientific name: Bambusa testilis, Schizostachyum

Other names: Bamboo Sugar, Siliceous Secretions of Bamboo, Phylostachys

Use of Tian Zhu Huang (tabasheer) 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: Open the bamboo, remove the secretion and dry

Dosage: 3-9g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs. Clears Heat in the Heart and relieves convulsions and tremors.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Tian Zhu Huang may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Phlegm Spams Convulsions Aphasia Loss of consciousness Wind stroke Convulsions in children

Contraindications*: Should not be used long term due to its cold nature

Common TCM formulas in which Tian Zhu Huang is used*

Hui Chun Dan

Source date: Late 18th century

Number of ingredients: 19 herbs

Formula key actions: Opens the sensory orifices. Arrests spasms and convulsions. Clears Heat and transforms Phlegm.

Conditions targeted*: Acute encephalitisAcute meningitis and others

Tian Zhu Huang is a deputy ingredient in Hui Chun Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Hui Chun Dan, Tian Zhu Huang clears Heat and transforming Phlegm. It also cools the Heart and controls spasms and convulsions.

Read more about Hui Chun Dan

Key TCM concepts behind Tian Zhu Huang's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Tian Zhu Huang 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 Zhu Huang is Cold in nature. This means that Tian Zhu Huang 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 Zhu Huang can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Tian Zhu Huang 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 Tian Zhu Huang 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 Tian Zhu Huang is thought to target the Heart and the Liver. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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.