English Name: cattle gallstone, bezoar
Pharmaceutical Name: Calculus Bovis
Medica Category: Heat-Clearing and Toxin-Eliminating Herbs
Properties: Niu Huang enters the Liver and Heart channels; it is bitter in nature and cool in temperature.
The Chinese Herb Niu Huang is the ground-up gallstones of cattle. Since this substance is quite expensive and can be difficult to obtain naturally, Ren Gong Niu Huang (Calculus Bovis Syntheticum), a synthetic substitute (made by artificially inducing stone production in cattle or pigs) can be used as clinical research has shown the pharmacological and therapeutic effects to be comparable to naturally occurring Niu Huang.
Niu Huang clears accumulations of heat-toxins to treat hot, painful swellings in the throat, mouth and tongue ulcers, and conditions of the skin marked by redness and swelling (e.g. infected boils, sores, carbuncles, and abscesses).
The use of Niu Huang is also associated with its sedative effects—that is, when extreme heat (fever) has transformed the body fluids to phlegm, and this phlegm (and heat) combine to “block the sensory orifices”. The result of this is that the Shen (Spirit) cannot reside peacefully in the Heart where it belongs. This condition presents as unconsciousness and delirium (along with the aforementioned high fever).
Niu Huang also has anticonvulsive effects and is used to address such conditions as convulsions, stroke, tremors, lockjaw, and other clinical manifestations of Liver wind.