English Name: litharge, galena
Literal Translation: “elusive reclusive monk”
Pharmaceutical Name: Lithargyum
Medica Category: Substances for Topical Application
Properties: Mi Tuo Seng enters the Liver and Spleen channels; it is salty and acrid in nature, neutral in temperature, and considered toxic according to TCM theory.
The Chinese Herb Mi Tuo Seng is powdered litharge or galena (which is a mineral form of lead oxide). Its use in TCM can be dated back to the 5th century. In modern times it is primarily used only topically for dermatological applications.
Mi Tuo Seng is made into an ointment or paste and used topically to treat chronic (skin) ulcers and sores with suppuration and fungal infections.
Mi Tuo Seng has a mild action to kill parasitic infections and can be combined with other herbs in formula to address tinea versicolor, vitiligo, scabies, and rosacea.
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.
Oral ingestion of Mi Tuo Seng is associated with overdose and toxicity and so long-term use and large doses should be avoided.
Contraindicated for pregnancy and for deficiency patterns.