English: Walnuts

Chinese: 胡桃仁

Parts used: The nut

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Kidney Large intestine Lung

Scientific name: Juglans regia

Other names: Juglandis semen, He Tao Ren

Use of Hu Tao Ren (walnuts) 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 the walnuts' husk. Give the walnuts two to three weeks to dry and cure before cracking them.

Dosage: 9 - 30 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies Kidney Yang. Assists the Kidney Qi to grasp the Qi of the Lungs while Warming and astringent to the Lungs. Lubricates the Intestines. Helps with urinary stones. Applied topically for superficial inflammation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Hu Tao Ren may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Lower back pain Knee pain Urinary incontinence Coughing Wheezing Asthma Constipation Urinary stones Eczema Impotence

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Yin Deficiency when there are Heat signs present, nor should it be used when there is Phlegm Fire and cough.

Common TCM formulas in which Hu Tao Ren is used*

Qing E Wan

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms and Reinforces Kidney Yang.

Read more about Qing E Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Hu Tao Ren's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Hu Tao Ren belongs to the 'Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Yang Tonics are generally used in combination with a small amount of Yin tonics. If Yin is deficient, neither Qi nor Yang herbs alone will be effective. The most common symptoms associated with Yang Deficiency are low libido and impotence. It is worth mentioning that another very effective remedy against Yang Deficiency is regular exercise.

Furthermore Hu Tao Ren is Warm in nature. This means that Hu Tao Ren 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 Hu Tao Ren can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Hu Tao Ren 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 Hu Tao Ren 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 Hu Tao Ren is thought to target the Kidney, the Large intestine and the Lung. According to TCM, the Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Large Intestine on the other hand receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. 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.

Use of Hu Tao Ren as food

Hu Tao Ren is also eaten as food.