Dan Nan Xing – Prepared Arisaema rhizome – Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Nature: bitter, cold

Enters: Lung, Liver, Spleen

Actions: Strongly resolves phlegm and dries dampness; disperses swelling, relieves pain; disperses wind-phlegm in the channels; eliminates both internal and external wind, relieves convulsions.

• Wind-phlegm obstructing channels: numbness, paralysis, convulsions, tremors, seizures, stroke, opisthotonos, lockjaw.
• Stubborn phlegm: cough, distended sensation in the chest.
• Good for stubborn phlegm. Treats phlegm over the whole body.
• Topical: for swelling and pain, deep-rooted sores, injuries, ulcers, carbuncles.
• Often used in pediatrics.
• Extremely drying in nature.
Dan nan xing is prepared by soaking Tian nan xing in Ming fan (alum), Sheng jiang (ginger), and ox/pig bile.
• I chose to list Dan nan xing, rather than Tian nan xing, as the primary herb here (with Tian nan xing below), because in the U.S., Tian nan xing is rarely used. However, it is usually presented as subordinate to Tian nan xing.
Li: Dan nan xing is one of the best herbs for phlegm-heat throughout the whole body.
MLT: Stimulant, expectorant, diaphoretic, irritant (Tian/raw).
Hsu: Sedative, antispasmodic, expectorant, antitumor activity (inhibits growth).
DY: With Xuan fu hua to clear heat, transform phlegm, stop cough, calm asthma, extinguish wind, and wash away phlegm in the channels and network vessels. For indications such as:
– 1. Cough, asthma, and chest oppression due to phlegm-damp obstruction, phlegm-heat, or stubborn phlegm in the Lungs.
– 2. Numbness in the limbs due to (wind) phlegm in the channels and network vessels.
– In the absence of heat, and in the presence of cold or damp patterns, processed Tian nan xing may be favorably prescribed instead of Dan nan xing.

Dose: 3-9g

Tian Nan Xing:

Nature: bitter, acrid, warm, toxic

Enters: Liver, Lung, Spleen
• In its raw, unprepared form, is very toxic and is mainly used as a topical application for yin-type abscesses, trauma-induced swelling and pain, and swelling of the joints. When used internally, it is always treated (usually with fresh ginger) which greatly reduces its toxicity. If numbness of the tongue is experienced after ingestion, granulated sugar can be taken as an antidote.
Zhi nan xing, the treated form (not Dan nan xing), is somewhat less toxic than raw. It is used mainly for wind-stroke (also see indications of Dan nan xing above). If one simply asks for Tian nan xing, Zhi nan xing is the form that will be given at a pharmacy. It is not to be used internally if it still has its outer skin.

Dose: 4.5-9g (treated); 0.3-1g (untreated, in pills and powders only)

3 comments on “Dan Nan Xing – Prepared Arisaema rhizome – Jack-in-the-Pulpit

  1. MJ says:

    Why is Tian Nan Xing treated with bile?

    • Peter Borten says:

      Treating Tian Nan Xing with bile renders it energetically cold instead of hot and neutralizes its toxicity. The resulting herb is Dan Nan Xing, which is used a lot more, and is more appropriate for hot (yellow) phlegm conditions.

  2. kismetputman@gmail.com says:

    Thank you for explaining the herb from China in such detail.

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