Cang Zhu (Atractylodes)
Cang Zhu Herb, Atractylodes Herb, Atractylodes lancea, Rhizoma Atracylodis
Acrid, Aromatic, Bitter, Warm
Heart, Spleen, Stomach
Transforms Dampness, Calms Middle, Aids Vision
Atractylodes herbs are commonly found in China and grow throughout Asia. They are an aromatic herb that has a tall, wooden stem. When used in traditional medicine, the Cang Zhu herb is often consumed as a powdered herb, extract, tincture, or even brewed as a tea. Black Atractylodes has the nickname "Grey Essence".
By tonifying the spleen, the Cang Zhu herb restores functions that were obstructed by dampness in the Middle Jiao by relieving symptoms of diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, anorexia, vomiting, and gastrointestinal pressure. By expelling Wind-Dampness, the Cang Zhu herb also relieves pain associated with head and body aches, as well as fever and chills.
Atractylodes herbs are also said to improve vision and sensation in the eyes. This is because Cang Zhu is naturally high in Vitamin A, which is essential to good vision. This property is enhanced when Atractylodes herbs are cooked with goat or pig liver and taken daily.
As with all traditional Chinese herbs, use caution when taking Cang Zhu. It should not be used with symptoms such as water or dry stools are present, or if there is Qi or Yin Deficiency. Traditionally, it was warned not to mix with pheasant meat, watermelon, honeydew, or peaches. More caution should be used with patients who take insulin, sulfonylureas, or other modifications for diabetes, as it can cause extreme elimination of electrolytes and water from the body.
The Cang Zhu herb is most often combined with Xiang Fu, Chen Pi, and Gan Jiang. These combinations improve Cang Zhu's effect on chest and abdominal pain, epigastric distinction, and infantile diarrhea. While it is effective on its own at drying Dampness, these and other combinations are used generally for Damp-Heat disorders because of Cang Zhu's warm properties.
Cang Zhu can also help reduce weight when it is combined with other herbs and is beneficial for those attempting to manage food allergies.
In comparison to Bai Zhu, Cang Zhu better eases Middle instead of tonifying and creates sweat instead of eliminating dampness. As well, Bai Zhu is traditionally cultivated where Cang Zhu is wild harvested.