Vaccaria seeds

Chinese: 王不留行

Pinyin: Wánɡ Bù Liú Xínɡ

Parts used: Dried seeds

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: StomachLiver

Scientific name: Vaccaria hispanica

Other names: Cowherb seeds, Cowcockle seeds

Use of vaccaria seeds (Wang Bu Liu Xing) 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 seeds and dry them

Dosage: 3-9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Invigorates Blood. Promotes lactation and menstruation. Reduces painful swelling of the breasts and testicles.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which vaccaria seeds may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Clogged milk ducts Low milk supply Mastitis Dysmenorrhea Amenorrhea

Contraindications*: Do not use during pregnancy.

Common TCM formulas in which vaccaria seeds are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind vaccaria seeds (Wang Bu Liu Xing)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), vaccaria seeds are plants that belong 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 Stasis in the case of certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore vaccaria seeds are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that vaccaria seeds typically don'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 vaccaria seeds means that you don't have to worry about that!

Vaccaria seeds also taste Bitter. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like vaccaria seeds tend 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 vaccaria seeds are 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 body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on vaccaria seeds (Wang Bu Liu Xing)

Various pharmacological studies confirmed that the crude extracts or purified compounds from Vaccaria hispanica showed galactopoietic activity, antitumor activity, effect on the blood and vessels, antioxidant activity and ameliorative effect on osteopenia.1


1. Zhou, G., Tang, L., Wang, T. et al (2016). Phytochemistry and pharmacological activities of Vaccaria hispanica (Miller) Rauschert: a review. Phytochem Rev 15: 813.