English Name: tetrapanax, rice paper pith plant
Literal Translation: “unblocking herb”
Pharmaceutical Name: Medulla Tetrapanacis
Medica Category: Water-Regulating and Damp-Resolving Herbs
Properties: Tong Cao enters the Lung and Stomach channels; it is sweet and bland in nature and cool in temperature.
The Chinese Herb Tong Cao comes from the plant that is the source of rice paper, a deciduous shrub in the ginseng family with the botanical name (Tetrapanax papyriferus (Hook.) K. Koch) which can grow to a height of 12-15 ft. The hollow stems of this shrub are harvested in the autumn and cut into smaller pieces after which the outer bark is removed, revealing the pith. This pith is then sun-dried and cut into slices for use as medicine.
Tong Cao is used in formula as an assistant to promote urination and clear damp-heat to treat lin zheng (dysuria syndrome) with painful, burning sensations when urinating, turbid or cloudy urine, and/or dribbling urination.
Tong Cao promotes lactation in nursing mothers.