Ban Xia – Pinellia rhizome – “Half Summer”

Nature: acrid, warm, slightly toxic

Enters: Lung, Stomach, Spleen, Gallbladder, Heart

Actions: Resolves phlegm; dries dampness; descends rebellious stomach Qi, harmonizes the stomach, stops vomiting; dissipates lumps and distention, disperses swelling and relieves pain.

• Phlegm-damp (especially when originated in the spleen): cough with copious sputum.
• Rebellion of stomach Qi (including from stomach phlegm-damp): nausea, vomiting.
• Phlegm obstruction: pressure, distention in the chest or epigastrium, plum pit sensation, masses, carbuncles, phlegm nodules in the neck (including goiter, scrofula), or other obstruction caused by phlegm anywhere in the body.
• Compared to Bei mu, Ban xia is more effective for phlegm-damp, while Bei mu is more for phlegm-heat. Ban xia is better at transforming phlegm lodged in the stomach, while Bei mu is better at transforming phlegm in the Lungs. The two are often used together to mutually enhance each other’s therapeutic properties.
• Tincture of Ban xia was effective in treating 95% of cases of acute toothache.
• Effective in acute suppurative otitis media.
Ban xia is always prepared for internal use with ginger, alum, or vinegar. Prepared Ban xia is called Fa ban xia. The ginger-prepared form is specifically referred to as Jiang ban xia. That prepared with alum is called Qin ban xia.
• Raw Ban xia is toxic and is only used externally to reduce ulcerations, deep-rooted sores, and carbuncles.
• Overdose can generally be cured with oral administration of raw ginger.
• Contraindicated in combination with aconite products.
• Must be crushed before use.
• Ban xia qu is powdered and fermented Ban xia with Gan cao. It promotes digestion and resolves phlegm. It is particularly good when food stagnation has led to phlegm accumulation.
Li: Ban xia is a nice addition when treating the Ren Mai (e.g. chronic UTI), as it opens all the channels. It is vital for lower Jiao problems.
• The Chong and Ren Mai connect with the Yangming. Therefore, moving stomach Qi with Ban xia helps unblock the Chong and Ren.
MLT: One of the strongest antitussives; stops post-nasal drip and excessive saliva.
• Avoid the form prepared with Ming fan (Alum) since it may have a cumulative toxic effect.
PFGC: Ban xia can open up coagulations; can revive accidental death victims when the powder is blown up the nose.
Ban Xia Tang can resolve insomnia by restoring proper communication between the body’s Yin and Yang aspects.
Ban xia can be considered to open the orifices.
Ban xia contains the storing and descending momentum of autumn metal: can pull things down, can calm the Chong Mai
Ban xia can relieve paralysis caused by wind-cold-damp.
• Alum-processing destroys its pungency and can induce nausea rather than treating it.
• It is best to buy unprocessed Ban xia, soak it in hot water for 10 days changing the water daily, then cut it into halves, put it in fresh cold water, bring it to a boil, remove it from heat, let it cool, and then dry it.
CHA: (Karen S. Vaughan) While our materia medicas list about 10 functions of Ban xia, only about two of them apply to any given preparation. Fa ban xia, for instance (usual preparation) rectifies spleen deficiency, harmonizes the stomach, and deals with insubstantial phlegm leading to vertigo, insomnia or delirious speech. Jiang ban xia is needed to deal with nausea, vomiting, rebellious Qi and coughs due to colds with phlegm. Qing ban xia is necessary for coughs with damp, phlegmy Bi syndrome, especially with nodulations or long-standing conditions without nodulations. Zhu li ban xia is used for serious mental disturbances such as schizophrenia.
Hsu: Strong antiemetic – decreases excitation of the vomiting center in the brain. Ban xia also has an emetic component which is destroyed by heating it. Furthermore, this toxic compound is quite insoluble in water.
• Sedative.
• Slightly decreases pressure inside the eye.
Heiner Fruehauf and Chip Chace: Articles by Zhang Xi-chun indicate that Ban xia has a slippery nature that helps supplement both the spleen and kidney. By removing phlegm-damp, it helps restore the normal spleen qi, and by disinhibiting dampness, helps supplement the kidney. Zhang Xi-chun says that when the pungent nature of ban xia is used to counteract phlegm or damp, the normal moistening actions of spleen and kidney are benefitted. “Just as Cheng Wuyi has put it: “˜Pinellia is pungent and dispersing; it moves water and thus moistens kidney dryness. In other words, if dryness counteracts dampness, water becomes uninhibited, and if pungent flavors transform fluids, the dryness becomes moist.’ He also says that it is used for vacuity constipation in the elderly, therefore, it is a mistake to say that it is excessively drying.” [from Z’ev Rosenberg]
DY: Fortifies the spleen; disperses food accumulation.
• With Chen pi for mutual reinforcement, to fortify the spleen, rectify the Qi, dry dampness, transform phlegm, and stop vomiting. For such indications as:
– 1. Cough due to an accumulation of phlegm-dampness. (Use lime-processed Ban xia.)
– 2. Chest oppression, nausea, and vomiting due to stomach disharmony and phlegm-damp stagnation. (Use ginger-processed Ban xia and stir-fried Chen pi.)
– Both herbs are traditionally cured to reduce secondary effects and reinforce their therapeutic actions. The longer they are kept, the more effective they become.
• With Huang lian to harmonize upbearing and downbearing, Yin and Yang, to clear heat, dry dampness, transform phlegm, and stop vomiting. For indications such as nausea, vomiting, chest and epigastric fullness and distention, thick, yellow phlegm, yellow, slimy tongue fur, and a wiry, slippery pulse due to damp-heat, turbid phlegm, and/or mixed cold and heat causing stomach disharmony. Huang Lian Tang is typically used. For these indications, ginger-processed Ban xia and ginger mix-fried Huang lian should be used.
• With Huang qin to harmonize and re-establish the interaction between Yin and Yang, to effectively clear heat, drain fire, harmonize the stomach, stop vomiting, and scatter nodulation. For such indications as:
– 1. Vomiting and nausea due to a Shaoyang pattern. (Xiao Chai Hu Tang) Use ginger-processed Ban xia. When Ban xia is removed from Xiao Chai Hu Tang, the alternating fever and chills disappear, but the pain and distention of the chest and lateral costal regions persist.
– 2. Phlegm-heat. (Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan) Use lime-processed Ban xia and win mix-fried Huang qin.
– 3. Lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and distention and sensation of fullness in the stomach, diaphragm, and chest caused by a pattern of mixed cold and heat. (Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang) Use ginger-processed Ban xia and bran stir-fried, ginger mix-fried or stir-fried-until-scorched Huang qin.
• With Sheng jiang to transform phlegm, downbear counterflow, harmonize the stomach, and stop vomiting. For such indications as:
– 1. Nausea, vomiting with not thirst and slimy tongue fur due to phlegm-dampness stagnating in the middle burner. (Xiao Ban Xia Tang) Ginger-processed Ban xia should be used.
– 2. Enduring cough with white, watery, and profuse phlegm. Use lime-processed Ban xia.
• With Shu mi (Millet) to transform phlegm, harmonize the stomach, and quiet the spirit. For such indications as insomnia with heart palpitations, nausea, and cough with thin phlegm due to phlegm-dampness accumulation in the middle burner causing stomach disharmony. Ban xia and Shu mi are probably the best combination to treat insomnia due to stomach disharmony, i.e. stagnant food preventing the defensive Qi from entering the interior.
• With Zhu ru for mutual reinforcement, to effectively dry dampness, clear heat, transform phlegm, harmonize the stomach, and stop vomiting. For such indications as:
– 1. Hiccup, nausea, and vomiting due to counterflow of stomach Qi. (Use ginger-processed Ban xia and ginger mix-fried Zhu ru.)
– 2. Vertigo, agitation, and insomnia due to phlegm turbidity. (Use lime-processed Ban xia and ginger-processed Zhu ru.)
– 3. Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy due to disharmony of the stomach, phlegm-heat, or heat in the stomach. In cases of stomach disharmony, add Zi su geng and Sha ren. In cases of stomach cold, add Sheng jiang and Sha ren. In cases of phlegm-heat, add Pi pa ye. In cases of stomach heat, add Bai mao gen and Pi pa ye.
Ban xia is incompatible with mutton, sheep blood, and maltose.

Dose: 4.5-12g

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