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Qian Niu Zi

English Name: pharbitis seed, morning glory seed

Pharmaceutical Name: Semen Pharbitidis

Medica Category: Downward Draining Herbs—Harsh Expellants (Cathartics)

Properties: Qian Niu Zi enters the Lung, Kidney, and Large Intestine channels; it is bitter and acrid in nature, cold in temperature, and considered toxic according to TCM theory.

What is Qian Niu Zi?:

The Chinese Herb Qian Niu Zi is the dried seeds of pharbitis, a climbing vine commonly known as morning glory (Pharbitis nil (L.) Choisy; Pharbitis purpurea (L.) Voigt). Pharbitis is well known for its beautiful flowers and is widely cultivated around the world as an ornamental. The seeds (which are harvested when the plant’s fruit ripens in the late summer and fall) can be used unprocessed as medicine, but the preferred medicinal form for Qian Niu Zi is dry-fried, as this both moderates the severity of its purgative function and maximizes the availability its active constituents in decoction.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Qian Niu Zi:

Qian Niu Zi purges and expels accumulations of water in the stomach and intestines through both the urine and the stool. Clinical applications include ascites and edema for excess conditions (such as qi stagnation).

Qian Niu Zi purges accumulations of congested fluid in the chest to address acute cough and wheezing/labored breath with feelings of chest constriction and a “throttling sound” in the throat from the presence of excess sputum.

Qian Niu Zi unblocks the bowels and removes accumulation to treat constipation due to the accumulation of damp-heat in the intestines.

Qian Niu Zi kills and expels parasites such as roundworm and tapeworm.

–safety/clinical notes:

Contraindicated during pregnancy and in cases of Stomach qi deficiency.

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