Friday, November 21, 2008

Meet The Herbs: Da Suan

Chinese: 大蒜
Pin Yin: Da Suan
Pharmaceutical: Allii sativi Bulbus
English: Garlic Bulb
Vietnamese: Củ Tỏi

In yesterday's post we learned that garlic can lower blood glucose levels. In Chinese medicine, garlic has been used for thousands of years to treat colds, skin rashes, fungal infections, and parasites. It warms the body and moves the qi, unblocking stagnations and accumulations. Garlic is especially effective in the treatment of intestinal parasites, killing hookworms and pinworms, and can be combined with other herbs to treat other kinds of parasites.

From the Commentary on the Divine Husbandman's Classic of Materia Medica:
Acrid and warm, it travels and pierces, reaching everywhere, including the five yin organs... In summary, its actions are best at unblocking and thrusting out the orifices, expelling cold-dampness, clearing away noxious pathogens, dispersing swollen sores, transforming gathered accumulations, warming the Spleen and Stomach, and promoting the flow of all qi.

Here's a little something from the great Li Shi-Zhen on the use of garlic with moxabustion:
To treat emerging large and deep sores, applying moxa is superior to using herbs, as the heat and toxicity are separated and the upper and lower [layers of the sore] are blocked [from communicating]. The toxic qi must be drained before it can be released and dispersed. Within the first day of its emergence, use a large clove sliced as thin as a coin, place it on the sore and moxa it, changing the garlic every three cones. Generally, one-hundred cones is the number needed. First, this will make the sore remain small; second, it will prevent putrefaction; and third, the perforation of the sore will readily close. In one application, three benefits. However, this definitely must not be used on the head or neck, for fear that it will lead the qi upward, causing even more problems.

And other notable topical uses of garlic from the Grand Materia Medica:
Ground into paste and applied to the umbilicus, it reaches the lower burner to eliminate edema and facilitate the movement of stool and urine. Bandaged to the middle of the sole, it guides heat downward to treat diarrhea, sudden dysenteric disorder, and both dry and damp-type sudden turmoil disorders; it also stops nosebleeds. Held in the rectum, it unblocks the pylorus and treats plugged and rejecting disorder.

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