English: Vietnamese balm

Chinese: 香薷

Parts used: Dried aerial parts

TCM category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Lung Stomach

Scientific name: Elsholtzia ciliata or Mosla chinensis

Other names: Chinese Mosla

Use of Xiang Ru (vietnamese balm) 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: Remove impurities, spray with water, remove residual roots, cut into sections and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Summer-Heat. Induces urination and reduces swellings. Dispels Dampness.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Xiang Ru may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Edema Fever Abdominal pain Oliguria Vomiting Diarrhea

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Deficiency with sweating. This herb should be taken cool (not hot) or taken with other cooling herbs.

Key TCM concepts behind Xiang Ru's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Xiang Ru belongs to the 'Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Warm/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by increasing the flow of sweat to our capillary pores. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category Xiang Ru is Warm in nature. This means that Xiang Ru tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Xiang Ru can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Xiang Ru also tastes Pungent. 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 Xiang Ru 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.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Xiang Ru is thought to target the Lung and the Stomach. 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. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.

Research on Xiang Ru

Essential oil of M. chinensis has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, and is therefore a potential source of antimicrobial and antioxidant agents for the food and pharmaceutical industries.1

Sources:

1. L Cao, JY Si, Y Liu, H Sun, W Jin, Z Li, XH Zhao et al. (2009). "Essential oil composition, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of Mosla chinensis Maxim". Food Chemistry, Volume 115, Issue 3, Pages 801-805

Use of Xiang Ru as food

Xiang Ru is also eaten as food.