English: Tamarisk twigs and leaves

Chinese: 柽柳

Parts used: Dry twigs and leaves

TCM category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): PungentSweet

Organ affinity: Stomach Heart Lung

Scientific name: Tamarix chinensis Lour

Other names: Chinese Tamarisk Twig, Xi He Liu

Use of Cheng Liu (tamarisk twigs and leaves) 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: Removes the old twigs and impurities, wash, soak in water, cut thick slices, dry.

Dosage: 10-15g

Main actions according to TCM*: Induces sweating. Clears Wind from the Exterior. Outthrust rashes. Detoxify.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Cheng Liu may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Beginning of measles Rheumatic arthritis Anemopyretic cold Itchy rashes

Contraindications*: Contradicted for these patients

Common TCM formulas in which Cheng Liu is used*

Zhu Ye Cheng Liu Tang

Source date: 1613 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Releases the Exterior. Vents rashes. Clears. Generates Body Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: MeaslesChickenpox and others

Cheng Liu is a king ingredient in Zhu Ye Cheng Liu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Zhu Ye Cheng Liu Tang, Cheng Liu is acrid in taste, neutral in nature and ascending in action. It enters the Yang Brightness Channels and is used specifically for discharging and dispersing measles like rashes.

Read more about Zhu Ye Cheng Liu Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Cheng Liu's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Cheng Liu belongs to the 'Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness' category. These herbs typically help treat what's called 'bi pain' (i.e. painful obstruction) in TCM. This roughly corresponds to arthritic and rheumatic conditions with pain, stiffness and numbness of the bones, joints and muscles.

Furthermore Cheng Liu is Neutral in nature. This means that Cheng Liu 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 Cheng Liu means that you don't have to worry about that!

Cheng Liu also tastes Pungent 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. Pungent ingredients like Cheng Liu tends to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food. 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 Cheng Liu is thought to target the Stomach, the Heart 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 regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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.