Friday, January 9, 2009

Meet the Herbs: Bai Zhu

Chinese: 白术
Pin Yin: Bai Zhu
Pharmaceutical: Actractylodes Macrocephalae Rhizoma
English: white atractylodes rhizome

Bai Zhu is bitter, sweet, and warm, and travels to the Spleen and Stomach meridians. The photo above shows the flower, and inset, the prepared pharmaceutical product. Chinese herb preparation generally involves washing, slicing and drying, with various other steps along the way. Once the herb has been prepared in this way it can be stored for quite awhile at room temperature.

Bai Zhu is classified as a qi tonic, which generally means that it increases the amount of usable energy in the body. Because it primarily affects the Spleen and Stomach, it raises the digestive energy.

Bai Zhu is one of the four herbs in 四君子汤 Si Jun Zi Tang (Four Gentlemen Decoction) - the other three being 人参 Ren Shen, 茯苓 Fu Ling, and 炙甘草 Zhi Gan Cao (ginger, poria, and honey-fried licorice root). Si Jun Zi Tang is an important building block for many other tonic formulas, such as 八珍汤 Ba Zhen Tang, 十全大补汤 Shi Quan Da Bu Tang, 参苓白术散 Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, and 补中益气汤 Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. Therefore Bai Zhu is used frequently in a safe and effective way in many Chinese herbal formulas.

Bai Zhu is available in raw and granule powder format from Fat Turtle Herb Company.

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