English Name: melia, Sichuan chinaberry fruit, toosendan fruit
Medica Category: Qi-Regulating Herbs
Properties: Chuan Lian Zi enters the Liver, Small Intestines, Stomach, and Urinary Bladder channels; it is bitter in nature and cold in temperature.
The Chinese Herb Chuan Lian Zi is the dried, cracked fruit of the Sicuhan chinaberry (Melia tossendan Sieb. et. Zucc.), a species of deciduous tree in the Meliaceae (mahogany) family that grows in the mountain valleys of South-Central China. The berries (which are considered toxic—6 to 8 fresh berries consumed can provoke adverse reactions—see **safety note below) from this tree are harvested in the fall, sun-dried, and then cracked open for use as medicine.
Chuan Lian Zi moves stagnant Liver qi and relieves pain. In addition, it is cold in temperature, which makes it a good choice for addressing abdominal and hypochondriac pain with heat signs (e.g. irritability and insomnia). Salt-fried Chuan Lian Zi goes to the lower jiao to address hernial pain with heat signs (as in the formula Dao Qi Tang).
Chuan Lian Zi kills parasites—especially roundworms and hookworms—and relieves pain. It can also be used topically to address fungal infections of the scalp by grinding it into a powder and mixing it with sesame oil.
**safety note—Chuan Lian Zi in its raw form is slightly toxic and should only be used in small doses and under the supervision of a trained TCM practitioner. (n.b. dry-frying it reduces its irritating effect on the gastrointestinal system). A full discussion of adverse reactions and TCM formulations for treating overdose can be found on pp. 503-4 of Chen & Chen.