English Name: styrax, storesin
Pharmaceutical Name: Styrax
Medica Category: Orifice-Opening Herbs
Properties: Su He Xiang enters the Heart and Spleen channels; it is acrid in nature and warm in temperature.
The Chinese Herb Su Hu Xiang is the dried, crystalized resin of the oriental sweetgum tree (Liquidambar orientalis Mill.) that has been ground down into powder for use as medicine.
Su He Xiang opens the orifices and disperses turbidity and (phlegm) stagnation. Aromatic in nature, it is effective for use with stroke patients who experience sudden unconsciousness from cold-type bi zheng (“cold disorder”).
Su He Xiang dispels phlegm to address chest or abdominal coldness and pain (with phlegm stagnation) and feelings of tightness/stifling sensations. It has been made into pills that primarily for angina pectoris and coronary artery disorders.
An Xi Xiang (Benzoinum) is similar to Su He Xiang, but derived from a different species (L. tokenensis). It is similar in strength and actions to Su He Xiang (in that it also opens orifices and treats loss of consciousness), but is not as warm. Additionally, it invigorates Blood and is used in formula to treat various forms of pain that arise from qi and blood stagnation: pain from trauma, Bi pain, and chest and abdominal pain, and postpartum coma.
Contraindicated in bi zheng (“closed disorder”) caused by heat or deficiency.
This herb has antiplatelet action and should be used with caution for those taking anticoagulants (e.g. heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and enoxaparin (Lovenox)) or antiplatelet medications (e.g. aspirin, dipyridamole (Persantine), and clopidogrel (Plavix)).
According to TCM theory (and knowledge gained from practical experience), a few things need to be said generally about the use of orifice-opening herbs in situations of loss-of-consciousness:
All of this is to say that discussion of this substance’s use in restoring consciousness is intended to be educational. Their practical use is complex/nuanced; furthermore, the situations for the use of these herbs are often serious and/or life-threatening and should therefore be left to trained TCM healthcare practitioners. See Chen and Chen, pp. 815-7 for a more complete discussion on this topic.