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Da Feng Zi

English Name: chaulmoogra seeds

Pharmaceutical Name: Semen Hydnocarpi

Medica Category: Substances for Topical Application

Properties: Da Feng Zi enters the Liver, Spleen, and Kidney channels; it is acrid in nature, hot in temperature, and considered extremely toxic in TCM theory.

What is Da Feng Zi?:

The Chinese Herb Da Feng Zi is dried seeds from the chaulmoogra tree (Hydrocarpus anthelmintica Pier.) that have been separated from the fruit pulp and sun-dried. The seeds can then be ground into powder, made into a paste, or pressed to obtain the oil within for use as medicine. This herb has been used in China to treat leprosy since the 14th century, and this use has carried over into the modern practice of TCM. It is, however, a highly toxic herb and should only be used externally (see safety/clinical notes below).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Da Feng Zi:

Da Feng Zi dries dampness, expels wind, eliminates toxins, and kills parasites and is used topically to address leprosy, scabies, tinea, and rosacea.

–safety/clinical notes:

General comments about TCM substances for topical application: these substances are categorized differently because many of them are toxic and so should not be used internally; nor should they be used for prolonged periods or at large dosages. This word of caution extends to using these substances over damaged or broken skin, or near sensory orifices through which they can be absorbed and do damage to sensitive/specialized tissues and mucosa. Furthermore, many of these substances are no longer used in TCM and have been added to this glossary for informational and academic purposes.

Da Feng Zi is extremely toxic and should only be used externally. It should not be given as an intramuscular injection as this is very painful and leads to necrosis of the tissues. Intravenous or subcutaneous administration may lead to hemolytic anemia, hematuria, and proteinuria. Other adverse effects of internal use include headache, chest pain, insomnia, nephritis, and fatty liver.

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