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HoloSapiens - the TCM "Food as Medicine" Project


Introduction to the disharmony


Major symptoms:

  • coughing
  • wheezing


Coughing and wheezing are symptoms with various underlying conditions. There could be cough, provoked by runny nose from an externally contracted disease (common cold), there could be cough due to phlegm in the Lung, cough due to dryness in the Lung, etc. Therefore the herbs in this class should always be combined with the applicable herbs that address the underlying condition of the cough. Their function is to relieve the symptom (the cough) but the root of the disease needs to be examined and addressed.


 Major Chinese herbs


Apricot seed – Xing Ren (Prunus armeniaca) – is maybe the most commonly used herb to relieve cough, yet it is more suitable for “dry” coughs. It also calms wheezing. Another seed that stops coughing and wheezing is Su Zi (Perilla frutescens). This one is more beneficial for cough with copious phlegm. Being seeds, i.e. having moistening effect, both herbs also benefit constipation. (2)


There are two kinds of Xing Ren - Tian Xing Ren (sweet apricot seed) and Ku Xing Ren (bitter apricot seed). Sun Su Mao, a famous Chinese doctor, who lived 101 years, used Tian Xing Ren in a longevity formula, called "sweet apricot mixture". " You fry 5kg of sweet apricot kernel quickly over low heat until dry, grind it into powder and immerse it in rice wine. Next, you strain it and mix the liquid with 2.5kg of honey to make a 7.5kg mixture, which you boil over low heat again, until it becomes as thick as jelly. Then you put it in a container and seal it tightly. Take 20 to 35g of this liquid per dosage to recover from illness and achieve longevity. (pg. 148) (3)




Zi Wan (Radix Asteris Tatarici) – is an herb used for cough with many underlying conditions, especially chronic cough. Meng Shi (Lapis Micae seu Chloriti) addresses persistent difficult to settle phlegm, that has build up and clogged the Lung. Kuan Dong Hua (Flos Tussilaginis Farfarae) is a “warm flower” that benefits cough due to cold. Pi Pa Ye (Folium Eribotryae) is a “cold leaf” that treats cough due to heat. Bai Bu (Radix Stemonae) is a root with moistening quality and is used for both chronic and acute cough. It is also used topically for lice and fleas. Sang Bai Pi (Cortex Mori Albae Radicis) is a root bark with diuretic effect, used in cases when the water metabolism is impaired due to Lung Heat. Another herb with draining quality is Ting Li Zi (Semen Descurainiae seu Lepidii) which drains phlegm, moves water and reduces edema. Ma Dou Ling (Fructus Aristolochiae) stops coughing and wheezing and also benefits hypertension, etc. (2)


Healing foods


The Lung benefits from substances with white color.  


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Food Therapy


Food therapy is the most economical and non-toxic biochemical approach to health and disease. Food is something we continuously use to sustain our lives. Learning what foods are healing (and what disruptive) for each condition has the potential to convert every meal into a form of therapy.   


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(1) Pitchford, Paul (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books

(2) Benski, Dan & Gamble, Andrew (1993). Materia Medica, Revised Edition. Seatle: Eastland Press, Incorporated

(3) Lu, Henry (2005). Chinese Natural Cures. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.

(4) Holmes, Peter (1998). The Energetics of Western Herbs. Boulder: Snow Lotus Press, Inc.


Related Articles:

The Lung in Chinese Medicine

Wind Invasion and the Lung

Phlegm in the Lung

Dryness in the Lung

Deficiency of Lung Qi



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