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".
Cang Zhu is active in the spleen, and focuses on dampness in the Middle Jiao. These areas are impacted by diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, anorexia, vomiting, and gastrointestinal pressure. By expelling Wind-Dampness, the Cang Zhu herb was traditionally used to relieve pain associated with head and body aches, as well as fever and chills.
Atractylodes herbs are naturally high in Vitamin A - an important vitamin for good vision and eye sensation. 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 to target 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.
Some have found improved effects on food allergies and wait reduction with combined other herbs.
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.