A member of the sunflower family, Bai Zhu (Atractylodes Macrocephala) grows naturally in the southeastern provinces of China. For thousands of years, it is highly respected by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, often referred to as “The First Herb of Invigorating Qi and Strengthening Spleen.”
A key ingredient in many Chinese herbal medicine formulas including both DAO Labs Immunity Support and Emotional Balance, the root of the Bai Zhu has garnered a powerful reputation over many centuries - for helping strengthen one's immunity, to helping calm one's nerves and emotions.
Quite the powerful punch for one herb.
An Equal of Ginseng
Harvested when the temperature cools slightly in its native habitat, the lightly sweet, lightly bitter Bai Zhu root is grown in the Zhejiang, Hubei and Hunan provinces. Specifically, Bai Zhu that is grown in warm, forested climates around Lin'an City in Zhejiang Province is especially prized within the larger Chinese medicine community.
Bai Zhu ranks high in the pantheon of Chinese herbs and is actually considered by some to be an equal of ginseng (or Ren Shen), easily the most famous Chinese herb in the Western world. An old Traditional Chinese Medicine aphorism states “Ren Shen in the north and Bai Zhu in the south,” showcasing how important both of these powerful herbs are viewed.
The Power of the Spleen
Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists believe Bai Zhu is useful for strengthening the spleen, but this definition of “spleen” differs from the actual spleen in the human body that regulates the production of red blood cells. Instead, according to Chinese medicine theory, "spleen" refers to, in broad terms, the digestive system. Moreover, a key pillar of Chinese medicine theory is that "digesting" does not just apply to food - as a person is thought to "digest" all information provided by the senses as well. Subsequently, Bai Zhu is thought to not just strengthen the spleen, but help strengthen digestion as well.
Xiao Yao San & Emotional Balance
One of the most popular Chinese herbal medicine formulas that utilizes Bai Zhu is called Xiao Yao San, which among numerous benefits helps reduce stress, calm the mind, and relax the body (it's also great during the PMS phase of one's menstrual cycle). In fact, the term “Xiao Yao” is related to ideas of wandering or rambling – activities that seem like a beacon of calm in our often overstimulated and stressful world.
“Known as Xiao Yao 'Powder' in Chinese, this formula has a uniquely evocative name that means to wander freely, to ramble, to move unimpeded and unfettered,” notes Dr. Eric Karchmer, Chief Chinese Medicine Officer and DAO Labs Co-Founder. "I use this formula frequently in my personal practice, and find the results incredible from several vantage points - from reducing stress to helping with digestion."
Chinese herbal medicine theory strongly links Bai Zhu with its consistent ability to invigorate a person’s “Qi”, a crucial element of Chinese medicine that is often loosely translated to “energy” in English, but really encapsulates a whole lot more.
“Qi is more properly a way for speaking about the constant movement and motion that constitutes life,” Dr. Karchmer continues. “If that movement is impeded, then one’s flow of Qi is constrained, leading to a wide range of symptoms.”
A stifled Qi can manifest itself in emotional volatility, according to Chinese medicine theory, meaning that emotions can be exaggerated or unexpectedly unstable. Combined with other herbs in Xiao Yao powder, Bai Zhu is thought to help calm these frayed nerves by letting the Qi loose.
Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations from a healthcare provider. This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease. That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options. If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.