Notes on This Category

• Some herbs in this category only drain dampness, while others both drain dampness and clear heat.
• Some herbs in this category have the potential to damage Yin or Qi. Be cautious with Yin or Qi deficiency.
• Herbs in this category are frequently combined with:
A. Herbs that relieve exterior syndromes and promote sweating when there is edema and an exterior syndrome simultaneously.
B. Herbs that warm the kidneys and spleen when there is Yang deficiency of these organs.
C. Herbs that clear heat and reduce fire when there is both dampness and heat.
D. Herbs that stop bleeding when there is bleeding due to heat forcing blood out of the vessels.

Bi Xie – Tokoro rhizome – Fish-Poison Yam – Dioscorea hypoglauca or D. tokoro (and other species)

Nature: bitter, neutral

Enters: Liver, Stomach, Bladder

Actions: Strongly drains damp; eliminates wind-dampness; clears damp-heat from the skin; separates the pure from the turbid; relaxes the sinews, unblocks the connecting channels.

• Dampness: painful urination with turbid urine (like rice porridge) or vaginal discharge (can be used for problems due to either deficiency or damp-heat).
• Wind-damp or damp-heat: Bi syndrome, lower back pain, numbness or stiffness of the lower extremities, muscle aches. (mild effect)
• Damp-heat accumulation at the skin: skin lesions such as eczema, pustular sores.
• In cases of damp-heat induced painful urinary dysfunction, this herb is most appropriate when dampness is predominant.
MLT: Antibacterial, antifungal, antirheumatic, anti-inflammatory, antitussive, antiparasitic.
• Similar to Western wild yam (D. villosa) – for damp-heat: jaundice, hepatitis, and gallbladder and rheumatic diseases.
SD: May help antidote lead poisoning.

Dose: 9-15g

May bear some similarities to Western Wild Yam – Dioscorea villosa:
JC: Antispasmodic, relaxant, stimulant, antibilious, diaphoretic, expectorant, diuretic, hepatic, cholagogue, stomachic, tonic, anti-emetic, antirheumatic, anti-asthmatic, emetic (large dose).
Good for pain.
RW: Contains diosgenin – a precursor used in the synthesis of progesterone and other steroids.
PLB: Studies indicate that orally consumed diosgenin is not converted to progesterone in the human body. Does not have hormonal effects.
IBIS: Anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, cholagogue, diaphoretic.
• [Western] dosage: tincture: 1 – 2 mL. powder: 400 – 800 mg.
• Specific indications: bilious colic; skin and conjunctiva yellow, with nausea and colicky pain; tongue coated, stomach deranged, and paroxysmal pain in the abdomen; twisting or boring pain, radiating from the umbilical region, with spasmodic contraction of the belly muscles; colic with tenderness on pressure, which gives relief to the spasmodic action (Felter and Scudder, p. 344)
• Therapy: indigestion; dysenteric tenesmus; cholera morbus; ovarian neuralgia; spasmodic dysmenorrhea; nausea of pregnancy; after-pains; obstinate and painful vomiting; gastralgia (Felter and Lloyd, p. 660); intestinal colic; diverticulitis; rheumatoid arthritis; muscular rheumatism; cramps and intermittent claudication; cholecystitis; dysmenorrhea; ovarian and uterine pain (British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, p. 79)
• Contraindicated during pregnancy due to teratogenic potential (Brinker, p. 43)
• Contraindicated in peptic ulcers; long term use may potentiate ulcers and/or prevent their detection.
• Caution is advised in patients with history of recent surgery, diabetes, hypoglycemia, nephrotic syndrome, urinary tract infections, acute infectious hepatitis, leukemias, Graves’ disease, or related genetic disorders (Langer and Greer, pp. 66 – 67); caution is also advised for those with thyroid problems, as studies indicate a possible goitrogenic response (Langer and Greer, p. 79).
• Large doses cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (Spoerke, p. 149; Felter and Lloyd, p. 661)

Bian Xu – Polygonum aviculare – Knotweed

Nature: bitter, slightly cold

Enters: Bladder

Actions: Stops itching; clears damp-heat; promotes urination; unblocks painful urinary dysfunction; kills parasites.

• Damp-heat in the lower Jiao: painful urination.
• Damp-heat: skin disorders with itching, including tinea.
• Intestinal parasites: tapeworm, hookworm, pinworm.
• Douche for trichomonas.
• Topical: wash for surface parasites.
• Also for bacillary dysentery.
• Increases the tension of the uterus – used to stop postpartum uterine hemorrhage.
• In cases of damp-heat induced painful urinary dysfunction, this herb is most appropriate when dampness and heat are equally severe.
MLT: Common weed around the world, used widely for urinary tract inflammation.
TS: The gravel remedy. Its chief influence is on the bladder and it has been known to remove stones from the bladder when all other treatment had failed. It will prevent the formation of gravel when there is a tendency, and it frequently dissolves stones already formed. It is desirable to combine it with Equisetum.
Hsu: Antibacterial, hypotensive, anthelmintic.

Dose: 9-15g

Che Qian Zi – Plantago seed – “Before the Cart Seeds”

Nature: sweet, cold

Enters: Kidney, Liver, Lung, Bladder

Actions: Drains dampness and harmful body fluid by promoting urination (without damaging Yin); clears heat from the liver; brightens the eyes (mildly nourishes Yin); clears heat and resolves phlegm from the Lungs (mild); stops coughing; normalizes malpositioned fetus (at 8 months); mildly nourishes Jing; solidifies the stool (by promoting urination).

• Bladder damp-heat: scanty urination, painful urination, edema.
• Liver heat: red, painful, swollen eyes, photosensitivity.
• Liver and kidney Yin deficiency: blurry vision, cataracts, dry eyes.
• Summer-heat with dampness: diarrhea.
• Can be used alone for any diarrhea (usually does not address the root).
• Scanty milk after childbirth.
• Female infertility: strengthens the Jing of kidneys and liver.
• Lung heat: cough with copious sputum.
• Injection into joint spaces has the effect of tightening overly lax joint capsules. This effect has been used clinically in treating recurring dislocation of the temporomandibular joint.
• In one study, in which Che qian zi was used in treating 68 cases of malpositioned fetus diagnosed at eight months, 90% of the subjects had a normal presentation at birth.
• Often put into a bag for cooking, to keep it from floating or passing through the strainer.
• Often dry-fried when used to promote urination.
• Often fried in wine when used for kidney deficiency.
Hsu: Antitussive, expectorant.

Dose: 4.5-9g

Che Qian Cao: entire plant
• Sweet, cold.
• Not as effective as the seed in promoting urination, but more effective at clearing heat and it also eliminates toxicity.
• Used internally and topically in the treatment of abscesses and swellings.

Dose: 9-30g

K&R: (various parts of the plant): Astringent, diuretic, sympathomimetic, pituitary stimulant.
• Wood excess, wood deficiency, earth deficiency, metal deficiency.
• Inflammation of the kidneys, gonorrhea, associated low back pain, eye diseases, Lung Yang deficiency, bronchitis, laryngitis.
Wood: conjunctivitis, allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, allergic eye conditions.
Metal: emaciation, retarded development, bronchitis, laryngitis, tuberculosis, constipation, chronic diarrhea, leukorrhea, eczema, acne.
Earth: strengthens stomach and upper digestive functions; for malnutrition, retarded development, nephrotic syndromes.
JC: (root, leaves, flower spikes, seeds of Plantago major or P. lanceolata)
• Alterative, depurant, diuretic, emollient, mildly astringent, refrigerant, deobstruent, antiseptic, vulnerary, antivenomous, styptic, antisyphilitic, anthelmintic (vermicide).
• The roots and leaves have moderately diffuse and stimulating alterative effects on the circulatory system. They also assist the glandular system, healing lymph and epidermal areas in scrofulous and skin diseases.
• Excellent for kidney and bladder disorders.
• An effective remedy for poisonous bites and stings.
• The best herb for blood poisoning: reduces swelling and heals limbs where amputation seems imminent.
• Eases pain and heals the lower intestinal tract.
• Diarrhea, glandular swellings, hemorrhoids, piles, kidney and bladder disorders, lumbar pain, scanty urine, enuresis, edema, scrofula, syphilis, thrush.
• Douche for leukorrhea, menorrhagia.
• Topical: for bleeding, use as a poultice and drink. Use as a wash for malignant or bleeding ulcers, toothache, burns, scalds, erysipelas, inflamed eyes. Wash with a strong infusion for itching, ringworm, old wounds.

Chi Xiao Dou – Aduki bean – Phaseolus calcaratus – “Little Red Bean”

Nature: sweet, sour, neutral

Enters: Heart, Small Intestine

Actions: Promotes urination to relieve edema; clears heat; eliminates toxicity; drains pus; dispels blood stasis; reduces swelling; clears damp-heat, treats jaundice.

• Retention of harmful fluid: edema with distended abdomen, urinary difficulty, leg qi edema.
• Blood stasis, fire toxicity: carbuncles, sores, furuncles.
• Damp-heat: jaundice.
• Topical: combine with egg white, vinegar, and honey, and apply to carbuncles and boils due to damp-heat.

Dose: 9-30g

Deng Xin Cao – Rush pith – Juncus – “Lamp Wick Herb”

Nature: sweet, bland, slightly cold

Enters: Heart, Lung, Stomach

Actions: Drains dampness by promoting urination; clears heat from the heart channel – descends heart heat to the small intestine.

• Hot, painful or dark, scanty urine.
• Pediatric sleep disorders with dark, scanty urine and irritability, especially at night.
• Heart and kidney not communicating (due to heart fire with kidney Yin deficiency): insomnia or restless sleep.
MLT: Specific for urinary tract infections, sore throat, damp-heat, incessant crying of babies.

Dose: 1.5-4.5g

Di Fu Zi – Kochia fruit – “Earth Skin Seeds”

Nature:  bitter, cold

Enters: Bladder

Actions: Stops itching; clears heat; drains dampness, promotes urination.

• Damp-heat: skin disorders such as eczema, scabies and other dermatological problems where itching is a major symptom. Also for damp-heat in the external genitalia. Good with Huang bai. Can be used both internally and topically for skin problems.
• Damp-heat in the lower Jiao: painful urination, dark, burning, scanty urine.
• Not to be used in combination with Hai piao xiao.

Dose: 6-15g

Dong Gua Ren – Benincasa seed – Winter Melon seed – Wax Gourd seed

Nature: sweet, slightly cold

Enters: Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach, Small Intestine

Actions: Clears heat; expels phlegm; promotes discharge of pus; promotes urination; drains dampness.

• Heat in the Lungs or intestines: expectoration of thick, yellow sputum, etc.
• Damp-heat with phlegm obstruction in the upper or lower Jiao: intestinal abscess, Lung abscess – when the patient is exhausted easily, scar tissue surrounds the abscess and antibiotics cannot get through.
• Especially useful in the treatment of damp-heat vaginal discharge.
• Topical: grind and use the powder as sunscreen.

Dose: 3-12g

Dong Kui Zi – Dong Kui Guo – Muskmallow seed – Malva verticalla or Abutilon seed / Velvetleaf seed

Nature: sweet, cold

Enters: Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Bladder

Actions: Promotes lactation, benefits the breasts; moistens the intestines; drains dampness and heat; promotes urination, unblocks painful urinary dysfunction.

• Damp-heat in the lower Jiao: painful, hot, bloody, or stony urination.
• Retention of harmful body fluid: edema.
• Insufficient fluids in the intestines: constipation with dry and hard stool.
• Insufficient lactation, painful swollen breasts, early stages of breast abscess.
• Especially useful for urinary/edema disorders accompanied by constipation.
MLT: Similar to Western Althea/Marshmallow [mainly used for its soothing mucilaginous properties] – for irritated urination from dryness.
• Milder than Hua shi.
• Demulcent; increases richness of mother’s milk.

Dose: 6-15g

Fu Ling – Poria sclerotium (mushroom) – Hoelen – Tuckahoe – Includes Fu Shen, Fu Ling Pi, Chi Fu Ling, Fu Shen Xin

Nature: sweet, bland, neutral

Enters: Heart, Spleen, Kidney, Lung

Actions: Drains dampness and harmful body fluid by promoting urination; tonifies spleen Qi; calms the Shen; transforms phlegm; harmonizes the middle Jiao.

• Spleen Qi deficiency with dampness: loose stool, fatigue, poor appetite.
• Stagnation of fluids or dampness: edema, scanty urination, difficult urination, diarrhea.
• Retention of harmful body fluid in the spleen: dizziness, palpitations, cough, headache (The spleen Qi is prevented from lifting to the head: dizziness, headache; from lifting to the heart: palpitations; and from lifting to the Lungs: cough.)
• Shen disturbance: insomnia, palpitations, forgetfulness (Fu shen may be preferable).
• Said to promote longevity.
• Reduces blood sugar.
• Drains without harming the Qi or Yin.
• Weight loss: can be powdered and mixed 50/50 with powdered rice, then dry fried into a “cookie” with small amount of sweetener, eaten as main food.
• Compared to Yi yi ren, Fu ling’s tonic effect is much stronger. But unlike Yi yi ren, Fu ling does not treat wind-dampness.
PFGC: Balances earth; transforms stomach phlegm-rheum into useful body fluids; can bank earth and engender metal – beneficial to both the stomach/spleen and Lungs; stops excessive sweat loss.
• “The Qi of the pine tree enters the earth, where, after a long time, it forms hoelen. the material quality of hoelen is formed by Yin Qi, while it has been conceived by Yang.”
• Purely benevolent, always tonifying.
• Key herb for excessive sweats causing palpitations causing insomnia.
• Hoelen settles kidney water rushing up to fill the void of depleted heart fluid (use a large dose in critical situations).
Li: Commonly uses up to 30g/day for severe dampness. Combines large doses of Fu ling with non-greasy Yin tonics (such as Huang jing) when there is both dampness and Yin deficiency.
MLT: High in potassium salts, which may be responsible for its fluid regulating properties.
Frees interstitial fluid for excretion and regulates intercellular fluid – unlike most diuretics, it does not cause thirst.
PCBDP: Contains several acids shown to be cytotoxic to hepatoma in vitro.
DY: With Bai zhu, the two herbs reinforce each other to effectively supplement the spleen and dry dampness, percolate dampness, and disinhibit urination. For such indications as:
– 1. Edema due to accumulation of dampness, due in turn to spleen deficiency. (Bai Zhu San)
– 2. Fatigue, weakness in the limbs, lack of appetite, loose stools or diarrhea caused by spleen deficiency with accumulation of dampness. (Shen Ling Bai Zhu San)
– 3. Vertigo, blurred vision, and/or heart palpitations due to phlegm-dampness. (Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang)
– 4. Chronic cough due to phlegm-dampness and spleen deficiency. (Liu Jun Zi Tang)
• With Yi zhi ren to fortify the spleen, secure the kidneys, reduce urination, and stop diarrhea. For indications such as:
– 1. Strangury with chyluria, milky, turbid urine, and dysuria due to deficiency cold in the kidneys or kidney Qi not securing with imbalance in the function of transformation of the bladder. (Use salt mix-fried Yi zhi ren)
– 2. Diarrhea due to deficiency cold of the spleen and kidneys. Particularly watery diarrhea. Use Yi zhi ren which has been stir-fried until scorched.

Dose: 9-15g (up to 60g for acute facial edema)

Fu Ling is the generic term for the entire mushroom, which consists of:
• Fu Ling Pi: the blackish “bark.”
– More diuretic, slightly tonic.
– Frees urination without affecting the Qi.
– Disperses swelling, treats edema and oliguria caused by severe accumulation of dampness due to spleen deficiency.
Dose: 15-30g.

• Chi Fu Ling: the pinkish flesh just beneath the blackish bark.
– Drains heat, frees urination.
– For strangury, oliguria, and red or dark urine due to damp-heat.
Dose: 5-15g

(Bai) Fu Ling: the white flesh which comprises most of the mushroom.
– Tonic and moderately draining.
– Frees urination, tonifies the spleen, quiets the Shen.
– For edema, oliguria, and phlegm due to spleen deficiency.
– For nausea and vomiting due to damp stagnation in the middle Jiao.
– For loss of appetite due to spleen deficiency.
Dose: 5-15g

Fu Shen: the flesh which surrounds the parasitized root.
– Stronger at quieting the Shen than Fu ling. Calms the heart, quiets the spirit.
– For insomnia, disturbed sleep, palpitations, loss of memory.
HF: (Fu Shen) An An Shen (spirit calming) herb, important in Gu Zheng (Gu parasite) formulas because emotional disturbance is common in patients with Gu.
Dose: 5-15g

Fu Shen Xin: the parasitized pine root at the heart of the mushroom.
– Strongest at quieting the Shen.
– Tranquilizes the heart, calms the liver, drains wind and dampness.
– For insomnia, cardiac pain, spasms of the sinews.
Dose: 5-10g

Hai Jin Sha – Japanese Fern spores – Lygodium – “Sea Gold Sand”

Nature: sweet, cold

Enters: Bladder, Small Intestine

Actions: Drains dampness and heat by promoting urination.

• Damp-heat and/or stones in the lower Jiao: painful urination with blood or turbidity.
• This herb is superior for pain relief (urinary).
• Often cooked in a bag to keep from floating to the surface.
DY: Frees strangury; clears heat from the small intestine, bladder, and blood division.
• With Ji nei jin to free strangury, transform stones, and, therefore, treat stone strangury. For stone strangury and urinary lithiasis due to damp-heat. This combination can be reinforced by combining it with Jin qian cao, Hua shi, Qu mai, and Che qian zi.
• With Jin qian cao for mutual enhancement, to strongly clear heat and eliminate dampness, disinhibit urination, free strangury, and expel stones. For indications such as:
– 1. Stone and/or sand strangury, renal lithiasis, bladder lithiasis. For these indications, the combination can be enhanced by adding Ji nei jin, Che qian zi, Dong gua ren, and Qu mai.
– 2. Gallstones due to damp-heat in the gallbladder. For this indication, the combination can be reinforced by adding Yin chen hao, Yu jin, Jiang huang, Qing pi, and Hu zhang.

Dose: 6-15g

Jin Sha Teng: the herb – “Gold Sand Vine”
• Sweet, cold.
• Clears heat; promotes urination; relieves fire toxicity.
• Damp-heat: painful urinary dysfunction, especially with stones or blood.
• Painful, swollen throat or mumps.
• Bensky/Gamble: clear heat and relieve toxicity category.

Hua Shi – Talcum – “Slippery Stone”

Nature: sweet, bland, cold

Enters: Stomach, Bladder

Actions: Drains dampness and heat by promoting urination; clears heat and releases summer-heat; absorbs dampness.

• Damp-heat in the lower Jiao: scanty, dark, burning and painful urination; diarrhea.
• Summer-heat: restlessness, thirst, fever, urinary difficulty.
• Damp-heat: diarrhea, distention of the chest.
• Qi level heat with dampness: unremitting fever, a heavy feeling in the body, thirst, yellow tongue coat.
• Topical: for damp skin lesions, eczema, boils, itching.
• Doctrine of signatures: Use stone for stones. Hua shi’s slippery quality frees the orifices and also helps kidney stones “slip” out of the body.
• Contraindicated for spermatorrhea due to kidney deficiency – this herb is too slippery and may exacerbate the problem.
• Place in a tea bag when decocting.
NOTE: This herb should probably be made obsolete, since it likely contains asbestos and is a known cause of gastric cancer, and – when inhaled – of lung cancer.
DY: Above, it clears the origin of water (i.e. the Lungs) and downbears Lung Qi; below, it frees the flow of the water passages and opens the bladder; eliminates evil heat in the six bowels.
• Since it is heavy and slippery and therefore favors descent, is not advisable in pregnancy (it might cause the fetus to slip), except to hasten delivery.
• With Gan cao: Gan cao can moderate the cold nature of Hua shi and protect the middle jiao, while Hua shi can prevent stasis due to the sweet flavor of Gan cao. As a pair, they clear heat, eliminate summer-heat, disinhibit urination without damaging the middle burner, and free strangury. For such indications as:
– 1. Fever, vexation, agitation, thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, and dysuria due to attack of summer-heat with internal and external heat. (Liu Yi San)
– 2. Turbid strangury.
– 3. Stone and/or sand strangury.

Dose: 9-18g

Jin Qian Cao – Lysimachia* – “Gold Money Herb”

Nature: sweet, bland, neutral

Enters: Kidney, Bladder, Liver, Gallbladder

Actions: Dissolves stones and discharges them; eliminates dampness; clears damp-heat from the liver and gallbladder, relieves jaundice; eliminates toxicity; relieves swelling; drains dampness and heat by promoting urination; unblocks painful urinary dysfunction.

• Damp-heat and/or bladder stones, kidney stones, or gall stones: painful urination.
• Liver/gallbladder damp-heat: jaundice and/or red, swollen eyes.
• Topical and/or internal: for carbuncles, boils, snake bite, abscess, traumatic injury.
• Very effective for acute mastitis.
• Often used alone as an infusion for stones.
*A diverse array of herbs that have similar functions are used as Jin qian cao. Besides Lysimachia christinae, these include:
Desdemodium styracifolium – known as Guang Jin Qian Cao, since it comes from Guangdong.
Glechoma longituba – (Ground Ivy) known as Lian Qian Cao, “Linking Gold Money Herb.”
Dichondra repens – known as Xi Jin Qian Cao, as it comes from Jiangxi.
Hydrocotyle sibthorpiodes – known as Xiao Jin Qian Cao, “Little Gold Money Herb.”
Hsu: Helps dissolve and excrete urinary calculi, stimulates bile production.
DY: Very effective in cases of biliary or renal lithiasis and may be used alone at a dose of 200-250g. Even when combined with other herbs, it should still be prescribed in relatively high doses of 50-150g daily.
• With Hai jin sha for mutual enhancement, to strongly clear heat and eliminate dampness, disinhibit urination, free strangury, and expel stones. See Hai jin sha in this category for specific indications and notes.
SD: May help antidote mercury and lead poisoning.

Dose: 15-60g (or much more for stones)

Mu Tong – Akebia* – “Open-ended Wood”

Nature: bitter, cold

Enters: Bladder, Heart, Small Intestine

Actions: Drains dampness and heat by promoting urination; clears heart heat – conducts heart heat out through the small intestine and the bladder to the urine; promotes lactation (by opening the channels); unblocks the blood vessels, promotes blood circulation.

• Heart fire pouring downward to the small intestine: irritability, mouth and tongue sores, restlessness, scanty, concentrated urine.
• Bladder damp-heat: scanty, yellow, painful urination, edema, leg qi.
• Damp-heat obstruction: Bi syndrome, joint pain, stiffness, amenorrhea.
• Insufficient lactation after childbirth.
• Regarding its ability to promote lactation, this refers to an ability to enhance the flow of milk, but not to produce it. In cases of insufficient lactation due to blood deficiency (milk is a product of the blood), you must nourish blood.
• This herb can easily injure the body fluids/Yin.
• Doctrine of signatures: this herb’s highly porous form – a dense vascular network like pipes – is suggestive of its ability to conduct fluids (milk, urine).
* Though Akebia species were most commonly listed in classical pharmacopeias as this herb, this plant is rarely used in China today. Instead, Aristolochia manshuriensis and Clematis armandi or C. montana are used. Given the recent warnings about aristolochic acid as a possible cause of kidney damage, it is advisable to choose a reputable supplier to ensure you do not get Aristolochia.
MLT: For urinary dysfunction associated with or caused by irritability and emotional stress.

Dose: 3-9g

Ba Yue Zha: Akebia fruit – “Eighth-Month Sticker”
• Bitter, neutral; liver, stomach.
• Frees the liver Qi; dissipates clumps; promotes urination.
• Used mostly for hypochondriac or hernial pain, most commonly associated with liver/spleen disharmony.
• Scrofula and other nodular disorders.
• Urinary difficulty and stony, painful urination.
• Recent use: for tumors of the breasts and digestive tract.

Dose: 6-12g

Qu Mai – Dianthus – Pinks

Nature: bitter, cold

Enters: Bladder, Heart, Small Intestine

Actions: Clears damp-heat, promotes urination, unblocks painful urinary dysfunction; breaks up blood stasis; unblocks the bowels.

• Any type of painful urinary dysfunction, especially when bloody.
• Blood stasis: amenorrhea (an auxiliary herb).
• Constipation.
• In cases of damp-heat induced painful urinary dysfunction, this herb is most appropriate when heat is predominant.
• The flowers are the most diuretic part of the plant. (Not potassium sparing: in animal experiments, the herb had a more significant effect on potassium excretion than on that of sodium.)
MLT: Strong diuretic, also stimulates intestinal peristalsis.
Hsu: Increases intestinal peristalsis, hypotensive, anthelmintic.

Dose: 6-12g (up to 24g)

Shi Wei – Pyrossia leaf – “Stone Reed”

Nature: bitter, sweet, slightly cold

Enters: Lung, Bladder

Actions: Clears the Lungs, expels phlegm, stops coughing; drains dampness and heat by promoting urination; clears heat, stops bleeding.

• Damp-heat or stones in the lower Jiao: hot, stony, or painful urination with blood.
• Retention of harmful body fluid: edema.
• Heat in the blood: hematemesis, uterine bleeding, hematuria.
• Heat in the Lungs: cough, difficulty breathing, wheezing.
Hsu: Antibacterial; strong antitussive, expectorant, and antispasmodic.

Dose: 3-9g (up to 30g)

Tong Cao – Tetrapanax – Rice Paper Pith – “Unblocking Herb”

Nature: sweet, bland, slightly cold

Enters: Stomach, Lung

Actions: Clears heat and mildly drains dampness by promoting urination; promotes lactation; conducts Lung heat out through the bladder.

• Damp-heat or damp warm-febrile disease affecting the lower Jiao: scanty, painful urination. Usually prescribed as an assistant or envoy.
• Insufficient or absent lactation.

Dose: 3-6g

Yi Yi Ren – Coix seed – Job’s tears

Nature: sweet, bland, slightly cold

Enters: Spleen, Stomach, Lung, Kidney

Actions: Drains dampness and harmful body fluid by promoting urination; expels wind-dampness, eliminates dampness from the channels; mildly tonifies spleen Qi, stops diarrhea; clears heat; drains pus; clears the eyes; expels phlegm, stops coughing.

• Retention of dampness and harmful body fluid, especially when due to spleen Qi deficiency: scanty urination, edema, diarrhea, damp leg qi.
• Damp-heat: any damp-heat disorder at any level characterized by a greasy tongue coating and digestive problems.
• Wind-damp: Bi syndrome with tendon spasms. Especially effective for increasing joint mobility and reducing spasms in chronic cases.
• Lung or large intestine heat: Lung abscess or appendicitis
• Soft, pustulated carbuncles.
• Lung phlegm-heat, cough.
• Can also be used for problems due to liver or kidney deficiency or liver channel heat.
• Despite its slightly cold nature, it does not hurt the stomach, and despite its sweet flavor, it does not block the Qi
• Weaker than Fu ling at tonifying the spleen. Milder at draining than Ze xie.
• Liu: Best herb for damp-heat with spleen Qi deficiency.
• For chronic spleen Qi deficiency with dampness, can be cooked into a porridge with rice, Da zao, Bai bian dou, etc.
• It is reported that Yi yi ren has an inhibitory effect on the growth of cancer cells.
• Should be cooked at least 30 minutes.
• Dry-fry to tonify the spleen.
• Note: although some sources refer to this herb as “pearl barley,” this is not barley and does not contain gluten.
Li: Good for generalized body aches due to damp accumulation.
MLT: Regulates fluid metabolism – drains dampness while it moistens the skin.
• Also for warts and fatty tumors, rheumatoid arthritis.
• Research shows anti-cancer properties.
Hsu: Hypoglycemiant.
Eric Brand: Yi Yi Ren, by its ability to clear damp-heat and expel pus, is also often used for acne and to generally enhance the treatment of skin conditions. For this purpose it can be liberally added to soups and congees.  In Japanese Kampo, it is also added to Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan to make an empirical formula for stubborn cases of acne.

Dose: 9-30g

Yin Chen Hao – Capillaris – Artemisia capillaris (or A. scoparia)

Nature: bitter, slightly cold

Enters: Spleen, Stomach, Liver, Gallbladder

Actions: Drains dampness and mildly clears heat to relieve jaundice; descends stomach and gallbladder Qi; frees the liver Qi; helps the liver Qi and spleen Qi lift; clears heat and releases the exterior.

• Damp-heat or damp-cold in the liver and gallbladder: jaundice. Can be used alone for this. For damp-cold jaundice (greyer/duller color), add herbs such as Fu zi, Gan jiang.
• Heat patterns: intermittent fever and chills, bitter taste in the mouth, stifling sensation in the chest, flank pain, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite.
• Also and important herb for hepatitis, especially icteric, including acute hepatitis B. In one study, subjects were effectively treated with administration of 30-45g of Yin chen hao 3 times a day.
Liu: Vents heat from Ying/Xue to Qi level, good for lurking heat.
• Promotes bile secretion.
• Lowers blood pressure.
• This herb is picked in early spring and contains the energy of the wood element.
• Bensky/Gamble: Compared to Chai hu, Yin chen hao is less drying and is “softer.” It is especially useful when a patient with a Yin deficient or excessive fire constitution needs the heat-clearing action of Chai hu but is unable to tolerate its dry nature.
• In disorders of the anatomical liver, this herb may be more effective when combined with Da huang and Zhi zi.
Hsu: Antipyretic; lowers serum cholesterol and β-lipoprotein; antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal.

Dose: 9-15g (up to 30g in very severe cases)

Yu Mi Xu Cornsilk – “Jade Rice Whiskers”

Nature: sweet, neutral

Enters: Bladder, Gallbladder, Liver

Actions: Promotes urination; benefits the gallbladder, alleviates jaundice.

• Hot or stony, painful urinary dysfunction or edema.
• Can be used for either yin- or yang-type jaundice (depending on the other herbs with which it is combined).
• Wasting and thirsting disorder.
• For many disorders of the biliary system. Cholagogue.
• Relatively weak and safe diuretic.
• Reduces clotting time and increases prothrombin concentration in the blood.
• Intravenous administration of the infusion has been used for its marked hypotensive effect (which is not seen with oral administration, even over long periods of time).
K&R: Diuretic (volumetric, azoturic, uricosuric, natriuric), choleretic, cholagogue, TSH inhibitor, hypocholesterolemiant, hypoglycemiant.
• Earth excess and deficiency, water excess and deficiency.
• Extracts are diuretic and are used to relieve the pain of rheumatism and gout; as a diuretic, it treats: nephritis, cardiac insufficiency, edema
• Also for obesity, high cholesterol, arterial hypertension.
• Germ oil: inhibits development of arterial plaque, strong influence on pancreatic-duodenal junction, and is used to treat hepatitis and cholecystitis.
Hall: Mucilaginous, soothing demulcent. Acts especially on the urinary tract and kidneys.
• For cystitis, burning on intercourse.
MLT: Helps dispel and expel stones.
PCBDP: Also useful for prostatitis.
Hsu: Hypotensive, hypoglycemiant, cholagogue, decreases bile viscosity – good for chronic cholecystitis and difficulty in bile secretion due to cholangitis.
• Hemostatic – increases platelet count and prothrombin.

Dose: 15-30g

Ze Xie – Alisma rhizome – Water Plantain – “Marsh Drain”

Nature: sweet, bland, cool

Enters: Kidney, Bladder

Actions: Drains dampness and harmful body fluid by promoting urination; clears (excess and deficient) heat, including kidney fire.

• Retention of dampness and harmful body fluid, especially damp-heat in the lower Jiao: scanty urination, urinary difficulty, edema, diarrhea, leukorrhea, dizziness.
• Kidney Yin deficiency heat: dizziness, tinnitus.
• Classically: for wasting and thirsting disorder.
• In terms of strength at draining dampness, Ze xie is second to Zhu ling in this category.
• Doctrine of signatures: some say this herb resembles a kidney.
Ze xie’s diuretic strength varies according to when it is harvested. Winter yields the most potent herb, and spring the least. The salt-prepared form is not an effective diuretic. Ze xie’s diuretic effect causes an increase in the excretion of sodium and urea. The herb has a high concentration of potassium, which may be a factor in its diuretic effect.
Ze xie seems to lower serum glucose.
• Compared to other herbs which promote urination, Ze xie has less of a tendency to damage the Yin.
Li: Does not damage the Yin.
Liu: Must be combined with Shu di huang to avoid damage to the Yin.
Li Dong Yuan: Leads Yang Qi back down to its lower source.
Jin: Good for draining fluid from the ear.
MLT: Make into congee (stir fry the herb, powder it, add it to rice) and take for inhibited urination, edema, leukorrhea, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, chronic liver disease.
DY: Drains fire from the liver, kidney, and bladder channels; clears damp-heat from the lower burner; clears heat from the Qi division.
With Huang bai to clear and drain fire due to Yin deficiency, and clear and eliminate dampness and heat. For indications such as:
– 1. Steaming bones, night sweats, and seminal emission due to deficiency fire. (Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan) Both herbs should be salt mix-fried.
– 2. Inhibited urination and pricking, painful urination due to damp-heat in the lower burner. (Salt mix-fried Huang bai and either unprepared or salt mix-fried Ze xie should be used.)
Hsu: Hypotensive, hypoglycemiant, antibiotic (TB).

Dose: 6-15g

Zhu Ling – Polyporus umbellatus sclerotium (mushroom) – Grifola umbellatus

Nature: sweet, bland, neutral

Enters: Kidney, Bladder, Spleen

Actions: Strongly drains dampness and harmful body fluid by promoting urination.

• Retention of dampness and harmful body fluid: edema, scanty urination, diarrhea, vaginal discharge, cloudy, painful urination, jaundice.
• May be useful in hepatitis B. However, be cautious of damaging the Yin.
• Possible benefit in cancer.
• Much stronger at draining dampness than Fu ling. No tonic effect.
• Caution with Yin deficiency: may cause damage to the Yin (and, as a result, the vision).
• In normal dosage, Zhu ling has shown no significant diuretic effect. In slightly higher dosage, and increase in urine production of up to 62% has been shown. Its effect is thought to take place at the level of the glomeruli.
Hsu: 5g will cause a 62% increase in urine volume in 6 hours.
• Antibacterial.
• Polysaccharides extracted from the mycelial culture of P. umbellatus and administered intraperitoneally into white mice at a dosage of 300 mg/kg inhibited the growth of Sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich solid cancers by 70% and 80%, respectively (Ohtsuka et al., 1973).
• P. umbellatus was later reported to have antitumor effects in a Japanese study (Ito et al., 1976).
• From the crude drug Chorei, seven components named polyporusterone A, B, C, D, E, F and G, have been isolated. These compounds were cytotoxic to leukemia cells (Ohsawa et al., 1992).
• When combined with the chemotherapeutic agent mitomycin C, Zhuling was shown to increase the lifespan of mice with tumors (You et al., 1994).
• Zhuling was also shown to be useful in reducing the postoperative recurrence rate of bladder cancer. Recurrence rates were 34.9%, compared to 41.7% in the mitomycin C group, and 64.7% in the control group (Yang et al., 1999). Similar results were reported in Yang et al. (1994) and Yang (1991).
• P. umbellatus polysaccharides can offset the immunosuppression of the supernatant from S180 cell culture, which may be mediated by down-regulating the synthesis and/or secretion of immunosuppressive substance by S180 cells (Yang et al., 2004).
• Ergone (ergosta-4,6,8(14),22-tetraen-3-one), an ergosterol derivative isolated from an alcohol extract of P. umbellatus, was shown to be effective in killing various human cancer cell lines. The cytotoxic effects were greatest against the cervical and gastric carcinoma cell lines, but less so against colon and stomach cancer (Lee et al., 2005).
• Cachexia, characterized by loss of weight, muscle atrophy, fatigue, weakness and loss of , is a common condition arising in many human cancer patients, especially those with gastrointestinal or lung cancer. Cachexia is thought to be the most frequent cause of eventual death in such patients. The tumor secretes a compound that breaks down fatty acid tissue in the host, and uses these breakdown products to help grow new cancerous cells. One of these compounds, toxohormone-L, is a protein that also suppresses food and water intake, promoting anorexia in these patients. P. umbellatus polysaccharides were shown to inhibit the cachexia induced by toxohormone-L (Wu et al., 1997).
• Zhuling was originally described in Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica Classic) as having diuretic action and was used mainly for edema and dysuria (Wang et al., 1964). Clinical studies have confirmed that Polyporus umbellatus is an effective diuretic, without side effects, for the treatment of pyelonephritis, nephritis and urologic calculi (Wang et al., 1964).
• Aldosterone is a steroid hormone produced by the the adrenal gland, and it regulates sodium and potassium balance in the blood. Ergone has also been shown to have an anti-aldosteronic diuretic effect (Yuan et al., 2004).
• Polyporus umbellatus has been cited a number of times herbal drug used to prevent kidney stones (urolithiasis) (Satish et al., 2006).
• In one study, it was demonstrated that Zhuling in vitro protects red blood cells from 2,2-azo-bis(2-amidinopropane)dihydrochloride (AAPH)-induced hemolysis. The inhibitory effect was dose-dependent at concentrations of 50 to 1000 µg/ml. The main free-radical scavengers involved, the triterpene carboxylic acids isolated from the methanol extract, polyporusterone A and polyporusterone B, were found to have inhibitory activities against AAPH-induced lysis of red blood cells. The anti-hemolytic effect was significantly stronger in polyporusterone B compared with polyporusterone A. Furthermore, the ingestion of 150 mg of Chuling was associated with a significant increase in free-radical scavenging effect of plasma in rats (Sekiya et al., 2005).
• It was shown that the polysaccharide extract from P. umbellatus had superoxide and hydroxyl radical scavenging activities. This same report concluded that there was no antioxidative activity in the polysaccharide extract (Liu et al., 1997).
• P. umbellatus was shown to have mitogenic activity on murine lymphocytes in vitro (Yadomae et al., 1979).
• Polyporus umbellatus polysaccharides were found to improve the cellular immunity of normal mice and the mice with liver lesions (Zhang et al., 1991).
• Zhuling, together with mitomycin C, was found to increase the life span of tumor-bearing mice (You et al., 1994).
• A Chinese study found that P. umbellatus polysaccharides can offset the immunosuppression of the supernatant from S180 cell culture, possibly by down-regulating the synthesis and/or secretion of immunosuppressive substance by S180 cells (Yang et al., 2004).
• P. umbellatus extract was shown to promote hair growth in mice, and 3,4-dihydroxybenzaldehyde was isolated as an active component (Inaoka et al., 1994). A later study isolated three hair regrowth substances, acetosyringe and polyporusterone A and B (Ishida et al., 1999). The latter two compounds have been isolated and characterized (Zheng et al., 2004).
• One study investigated the effect of various Chinese herbs, including P. umbellatus, on human scalp hair growth in vitro, using organ culture of human scalp hair follicles. It was found that low doses of extracts (1.28 and 6.4 µg/ml) markedly enhanced the hair growth and lengthened the period of hair growth, while high doses of mixture extracts (4 and 20 mg/ml) sharply inhibited hair growth and shortened the period of hair growth (Sun et al., 2005).
• A group of researchers evaluated various reports about the use of P. umbellatus to treat chronic hepatitis B infection, concluding that the evidence in favor is too weak to recommend using this herb, and that further properly-designed clinical studies are required (Liu et al., 2001).
• Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease. Worldwide there are estimated to be 50 million new cases of Chlamydia trachomatis infection annually (Black C.M. (1997) Current methods of Laboratory Diagnosis of Chlamydia trachomatis Infections: Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 10(1), 160-184). P. umbellatus, along with several other diuretic traditional Chinese medicines, was found to possess inhibitory activity for urogenital chlamydia trachomatis (Li et al., 2000).

Dose: 6-15g