English Name: pearl
Literal Translation: “precious ball”
Pharmaceutical Name: Margarita
Medica Category: Liver-Calming and Wind-Extinguishing Herbs
Properties: Zhen Zhu enters the Heart and Liver channels; it is sweet and salty in nature and cold in temperature.
The Chinese Herb Zhen Zhu is pearl, the precious gemstone that forms around a grain of sand or other foreign matter in the shells of oysters and other mollusks. They are primarily made up of calcium carbonate but also contain amino acids and other minerals as well (e.g. magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, selenium and silicon). For medicinal use they are generally ground up and used in pill or powder form (although they can be decocted as well).
Zhen Zhu sedates the Heart and treats both excess and deficiency based shen disturbances depending on the other herbs with which it is combined in formula. According to TCM theory, excess shen disturbance is caused by Liver wind and manifests as/with tremors, seizures, tremors, and childhood convulsions; deficient shen disturbance, on the other hand, is caused by lack of nourishment to the Heart and is characterized by such symptoms as neurasthenia, insomnia, palpitations, and being easily frightened.
Zhen Zhu clears the Liver channel and removes superficial visual obstructions (e.g. pterygium and blurred vision) caused by Liver heat or Liver deficiency. It is almost always combined with other herbs and used as eye drops for this purpose.
Zhen Zhu is used topically (as a paste w/Bing Pian and Ru Xiang) to promote the healing and generate flesh on non-healing skin ulcers. It can also be used singly (as a powder) to promote the healing when there is burns or eczema.
Zhen Zhu (pearls) and Zhen Zhu Mu (mother of pearl) have similar actions: Zhen Zhu has a better action to sedate the Heart/calm shen, and Zhen Zhu Mu more effectively calms the Liver to brighten the eyes.