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Huo Ma Ren

English Name: hemp seed, cannabis seed, linum

Pharmaceutical Name: Fructus Cannabis

Medica Category: Downward Draining Herbs—Moist Laxatives

Properties: Huo Ma Ren enters the Spleen, Stomach, and Large Intestine channels; it is sweet in nature and neutral in temperature.

What is Huo Ma Ren?:

The Chinese Herb Huo Ma Ren is dried seeds of Cannabis sativa L. that have been processed to render them inert (i.e. unable to propagate). It should also be noted in passing that the seeds do not have any psychoactive properties associated with the cannabis plant.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Huo Ma Ren:

Huo Ma Ren is rich in oil and so lubricates the intestine to relieve constipation in the elderly, in the aftermath of febrile conditions, and in cases of blood deficiency. It also mildly tonifies yin and thus is indicated for constipation that comes along with yin deficiency.

Huo Ma Ren moistens dryness and is used topically to promote the healing of sores and ulcerations and on the scalp to promote hair growth/treat dry hair.

–safety/clinical notes:

Because Huo Ma Ren has been processed, they cannot germinate and are not considered a controlled substance.

Contraindicated for those with loose stools.

Overdose or long-term use may result in vaginal discharge or spermatorrhea.

Over consumption can lead to impotence.

Excessive consumption can lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Avoid use of the unprocessed herb as it is slightly toxic.

This herb and Yu Li Ren (bush cherry seed, prunus seed) have similar effects; however, Huo Ma Ren is gentler and nourishing, and is indicated for deficiency conditions whereas Yu Li Ren is stronger, promotes urination, treats edema, and is more effective at addressing excess disorders. The two herbs can be used together in formula (along with other purgatives herbs such as Xing Ren (apricot seed) and Bai Zi Ren (biota seed)) to address more complex patterns involving constipation.

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