English: Vitex fruits

Chinese: 蔓荊子

Parts used: Dried ripe fruit

TCM category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Bladder Stomach Liver

Scientific name: Vitex trifolia

Use of Man Jing Zi (vitex 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: Remove impurities and dry

Dosage: 5 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves the Exterior, scatters Wind and clears Heat. Clears Wind-Heat associated with the Liver. Clears Wind-Damp painful obstruction.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Man Jing Zi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Headache Painful eyes Excessive tearing Spots in the vision Numbness of limbs Heavy limbs Muscle cramps

Contraindications*: This herb should be used with caution by those with Blood, Yin or Stomach Qi Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which Man Jing Zi is used*

Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang

Source date: 1247 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Expels wind and dampness.

Conditions targeted*: Rheumatic feverUpper respiratory tract infections and others

Man Jing Zi is an assistant ingredient in Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang, Man Jing Zi treats the headache. 

Read more about Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Man Jing Zi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Man Jing Zi belongs to the 'Cool/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 Cool/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by dilating our capillary pores so that they release more sweat. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category Man Jing Zi is Cool in nature. This means that Man Jing Zi tends to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. 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 Man Jing Zi can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Man Jing Zi also tastes Bitter and 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. Bitter ingredients like Man Jing Zi tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Pungent ingredients tend 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 Man Jing Zi is thought to target the Bladder, the Stomach and the Liver. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. 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. The Liver 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.