Chinese Herbs: U to Z
Wu Bei Zi

Rhus chinensis, Wu Bei Zi (五倍子) in Chinese, also known as the Chinese sumac or nutgall tree, is a plant species in the genus Rhus. The species is used to produce galls, called Chinese galls, which are rich in gallotannins, a type of hydrolysable tannins. Chinese galls are used in Chinese medicine to treat coughs, diarrhea, night sweats, dysentry and to stop intestinal and uterine bleeding. Wu Bei Zi compounds possess strong antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer, hepatoprotective, antidiarrheal and antioxidant activities; the herb has long been considered to possess many medicinal properties. Gallic acid (3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid), isolated from Wu Bei Zi, induces apoptosis in human monocytic lymphoma cell line U937 and may be a potential chemotherapeutic agent against lymphoma. The gall of Rhus chinensis inhibits alpha-glucosidase activity.

Wu Mei

Wu Mei, or Mume fruit, has five main indications: It inhibits leakage of lung qi – lung deficiency cough. It Binds intestines – chronic diarrhea or dysentery. 

It Generates fluids – alleviates thirst due to heat from deficiency or qi and yin deficiency, xiao ke. 

It expels roundworm – alleviates abdominal pain. Finally, it stops bleeding – blood in the stool, uterine bleeding with blood deficiency signs (dryness, thirst, parched mouth).

Wu Wei Zi

Schisandra chinensis or Wǔ Wèi Zi, (五味子 in Chinese), literally “five flavor berry” is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Schisandra berries are most often used in dried form, and boiled to make a tea. 

Chemical constituents include the lignans schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin, which are found in the seeds of the fruit. In traditional Chinese medicine, Schisandra chinensis is believed to: Astringe Lung Qi and nourish the Kidneys; Restrain the essence and stop Diarrhea–astringent Kidneys; Arrest excessive sweating from Yin or Yang deficiency; Calm the Spirit by tonification of Heart and Kidney; Generate body fluids and alleviate thirst.

Wu Zhu Yu

Wu Zhu Yu is a powerful herb in the Chinese herbal pharmacopoeia. It is the small, reddish-brown fruit from the Evodia tree, which is native to parts of China and Korea. Traditionally, Wu Zhu Yu is used for its warming effects, its pain-relieving effects, and its qi-lowering capability. It warms the middle, disperses cold, and descends rebellious Stomach Qi. Many formulas containing Wu Zhu Yu relieve headache, menstrual pain, and a wide variety of digestive problems. Some common formulas containing Wu Zhu Yu are: Wu Zhu Yu Tang, Si Shen Wan, and Zuo Jin Wan. The pharmacologic properties of this fruit are: analgesic, anthelmintic, astringent, carminative, decongestant, diuretic, stimulant, stomachic, and uterotonic.

Xi Xin

Xixin is the pungent in flavour, warm in nature and acts on the heart, lung and Kinney channels. 

Pungent for dispersion, warm for removing blockage, aromatic for moving from exterior to interior, it can disperse cold from exterior, dispel cold from interior, warm the lung, clear passages and relieve pain with good effect. 

It is an important herb for treatment of Yang insufficiency caused by exopathogens, headache due to pathogenic wind, cold fluid retention, cough and asthma.

Xia Ku Cao

Xia Ku Cao is the spike or whole plant of the perennial herb, Prunella vulgaris L. (Family Labiaceae), grown in the regions throughout China, mainly produced when its spikes become withered, and dried in the sunlight. Bitterness and pungent in flavour, coldness in nature, it acts  liver and gallbladder  channels. Its bitter flavour and cold property clear the heat and fire, and the pungency resolves the hard lumps. The herb can clear the excessive fire from liver and gallbladder to improve vision, and reduce the phlegm- fire stasis to remove scrofula. It is an important herb for treating conjunctival congestion, headache, and scrofula caused by phlegm-fire stasis.

Xiang Fu

Xian Fu, also known as Cyperus, Nut-grass, or Purple Nutsedge Moves and regulates Liver qi, regulates menstruation and alleviates pain.

For medicinal use, the rhizomes are harvested and cleaned. Large, hard rhizomes with intense fragrance are considered the best quality. 

Small, lightweight, wrinkled rhizomes are poor quality.

Xin Yi

Xin Yi (Hua) is the chinese equivalent of Magnolia flower, Lily tree. In TCM, it expels wind-cold and unblocks nasal passages. Native to East Asia, Magnolia denudata still grows wild in east-central China. It has been cultivated in Chinese gardens for over 1000 years, at least since the Tang dynasty. It bears creamy white flowers on bare branches in the early spring and is commonly depicted in traditional Chinese painting, regarded as a symbol of purity, feminine sweetness and beauty.

Xue Yu Tan

Xue Yu Tan is bitter and astringent. It is used in charcoal form. It can astringe and stop bleeding with the combining action of resolving stasis. It has the feature of stopping bleeding without remaining stasis and is indicated for all kinds of bleeding. 

It is used both externally and internally. For nasal bleeding and gum bleeding, it is used alone externally. For hemoptysis or hematemesis, it is usually combined with stasis-resolving hemostatics. 

For instance it is combined with Hua Rui Shi and San Qi in Hua Xue Dan from Yi Xue Zhong Zhong Can Xi Lu. For hematochezia due to fire of large intestine, it is combined with herbs that can clear fire of intestine and cool blood to stop bleeding. For instance it is combined with Di Yu and Huai Hua in San Hui San from Lei Zheng Zhi Cai.

Yin Qiao

The fragrant yellow flowers of the honeysuckle vine are used in herbal medicine around the world for cleansing, consuming, and digesting and the flowers of Lonicera japonica, or Japanese honeysuckle, have the added property of stimulating circulation to remove inflammation. The fragrance is said to induce dreams of passion and love. One of the most enduring folk tales is that if one brings a honeysuckle in bloom into their home, a wedding will follow within a year. Used in Asia medicinally for thousands of years, honeysuckle is an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, diuretic, and used to reduce blood pressure. The buds and flowers are made into puddings and syrups, and the stems and flowers, used together, are made into an infusion for help with upper respiratory tract infections.

Yu Jin

In Chinese medicine, Yu Jin (or Tumeric Tuber) has the following clinical Usage and Indications: Invigorate blood, break up stasis – used topically and internally for traumatic pain, and to speed healing process of chronic sores.

It also promotes movement of Qi – liver qi stagnation, menstrual pain, chest, flank pain. 

It is used to clear body heat, cool the blood or hot phlegm obstruction of heart orifices with symptoms like anxiety, agitation, seizures. 

It can also benefit gallbladder affected by jaundice.

Yu Zhu

Yu Zhu (or Polygonatum odoratum) is classified as a Fragrant Solomonseal Rhizome; it has the following properties: Nourishes Yin; Moistens the Lungs; Promotes generation of Body Fluids; Nourishes the Stomach. The rhizomes are collected in summer and autumn, removed from the fibrous root, washed clean, dried in the sun to soften, rubbed repeatly and dried in the air until the drug is devoid of hard core, and then dried in the sun thoroughly. Or after washing steamed thoroughly, or rubbed to translucent after thoroughly steaming, and dried in the sun. The rhizomes can also be processed with honey.

Yuan Hu

Yuan Hu unblocks blood vessels, dissolves blood stasis and alleviates pain as a miraculous herb of activating blood, moving qi and relieving pain. It is indicated for all kinds of pain through combinations, especially good at various pain of internal Zang. For intolerable stomachache, it is used as powder singly and taken with wine. For stomachache of cold pattern, it is combined with interior-warming analgesics such as Gui Zhi, Hua Jiao and Gao Liang Jiang, etc. For stomachache due to qi stagnation, it is combined with qi-moving analgesics such as Xiang Fu, Mu Xiang and Sha Ren, etc. For stomachache due to blood stasis, it is combined with blood-activating analgesics such as Dan Shen and Wu Ling Zhi.

Yuan Zhi

Yuan Zhi (Bot: Radix Polygalae Tenuifoliae) is collected in spring and autumn, removed from rootlet and soil, and dried in the sun. 

It has the following properties:Calms the Heart; Calms the Mind; Transforms Phlegm; Opens the orifices; Resolves furuncle and edemas.

Zhe Bei Man

Zhe Bei Man (or Mu) has similar action to Chuan Bei Mu but bitterer and colder with strong action of clearing fire especially clearing and resolving heat-phlegm as well as directing downward and purging lung qi. It is mostly suitable for the cough caused by external wind-heat invasion and phlegm-heat accumulation of lung. For external wind-heat invasion, lung heat and exuberant phlegm, it is usually combined with wind-heat dispersing herbs and lung-clearing and cough-stopping herbs such as Sang Ye, Niu Bang Zi and Qian Hu. For cough of phlegm-heat, it is also combined with heat-clearing and phlegm-heat-resolving herbs such as Gua Lou, Zhi Mu and Zhu Ru.

Zhen Zhu Mu

Zhen Zhu Mu is the shell of Hyriopsis cumingii (Lea), Cristaria plicata ( Leach) of family Unionidae or the shell of Pteria martensii (Dunker) of family Pteriidae. The unionidae is from rivers and lakes in China, and the Pteria martensii is from the coast area of Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan provinces in China.

It is similar to Shi Jue Ming in pacifying liver, subduing yang and clearing liver heat, but its action is weaker than that of Shi Jue Ming. It is good at calming heart and inducing tranquilization to enter heart meridian. So it is mutually reinforced by Shi Jue Ming

Zhi Mu

Being bitter and sweet in flavor and cold in nature, Zhi Mu is good for clearing heat and has the actions of moistening and clearing heat and purging fire by entering lung and stomach meridians. It works the same as Shi Gao in the light of clearing excess heat at qi system. As a common used herb for treating the hyperactivity of pathogenic heat manifested as the lingering high fever, sweat, irritability and thirst, with surging and big pulse, Zhi Mu is often combined with Shi Gao for mutual reinforcement. For instance, Shi Gao and Zhi Mu are combined for mutual reinforcement in Bai Hu Tang from Shang Han Lun. For Zhi Mu has the actions of nourishing stomach yin and generating fluids to quench the thirst, it is used to treat thirst and over drinking caused by exuberant heat consuming clear fluids.

Zhi Zi

Zhi Zi is also known as Gardenia fruit, or Cape jasmine fruit. In TCM, It resolves constrained heat, soothes irritability, clears damp heat downwards, and cools blood. Gardenia fruits are harvested when they begin to turn yellow, usually after a frost in October. 

The fruit is then dried in the sun for several days, and then dried completely in shade with good air circulation. 

The best quality Zhi Zi for medicinal use consists of small, unbroken fruits with a thin pericarp, having a reddish yellow in color inside and out.


Zhu Ling

Zhu Ling is known as Polyporus, or ‘Pig’s fungus’. In TCM, it promotes urination, leeches dampness, and facilitates fluid metabolism. For medicinal use, good quality Zhu Ling is heavy and solid. 

The surface should be smooth and black while the inside should be white and without holes. 

In Chinese medicine, the herb is generally used in its raw, dried form, without special preparation.

Zhu Ru

Zhu Ru is sweet and cold and good at clearing and resolving heat-phlegm. When phlegm-heat removed, lung qi is purified and cough is stopped. When phlegm-fire is cleared, heart spirit is calmed and restlessness and insomnia will disappear. For cough due to lung heat and yellow and sticky phlegm, it is usually combined with other heat-clearing and phlegm-resolving antitussives such as Gua Lou, Sang Bai Pi and Huang Qin. For phlegm-fire stirring up manifested by chest oppression, profuse phlegm, restlessness and insomnia, it is combined with phlegm-resolving and tranquilization herbs so as to obtain the action of clearing and resolving heat-phlegm as well as tranquilization and removing restlessness.

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