Centipede

Centipede (Wu Gong)Centipede (Wu Gong)

Botanical Name: Scolopendra Subspinipes

Centipedes are considered a pest in the West, but in China, they are also a food and a powerful medicine. They are considered to be an important anticancer and antituberculosis medicine and blood moving herb. They are successfully used to treat tremors, seizures, hemiplegia due to stroke, tetanus, and snake bites.

Below is an overview of Centipede (Wu Gong), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Centipede (Wu Gong).

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Western

Western Name: Centipede

Also Known As: Scolopendra

Organs/Systems: Liver, Nervous System

Key Actions: Anti-inflammatory, Anticancer, Analgesic, Antifungal, Antibacterial

Medicinal Uses: Tuberculous pleuritis, tuberculosis, bone tuberculosis, mammary tuberculosis, lymphatic tuberculosis, esophageal cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, uterine cancer, lip cancer, herpes.

Eastern

Pin Yin: Wu Gong

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Liver

Key Actions: Calms Liver Wind, Stops Spasms, Relieves Toxicity, Reduces Nodules, Snake Bites, Unblocks the Collaterals, Stops Pain

Medicinal Uses: Spasms, tremors, convulsions in children, twitching, seizures, drooping corners of the mouth, lock jaw, hemiplegia due to stroke, tetanus, rheumatism, chronic arthralgia, scrofula, snake bites, tumors, toxic nodules, sores, carbuncles, neck lumps, snake bites, stubborn headaches, and painful obstructions.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Centipedes are arthropods belonging to the class Chilopoda. There are an estimated 8,000 species worldwide. They are elongated metameric creatures with one pair of legs per body segment. They are known to be highly venomous. They range from having 35-355 legs. All groups have a pair of venom claws or forcipules formed from a modified first appendage. They’re normally found in shades of brown and red.

Centipedes can be found in a wide variety of environments. Some are also cave-dwelling and prefer subterranean environments. They are found worldwide in tropical rainforests, deserts, and even the Arctic Circle. They like the inside of dead logs, leaf litter, and moist soil.

Centipede (Wu Gong)Parts Most Frequently Used: Dried Whole Body

Flavors/Temps: Acrid, Spicy, Warm, Toxic

Caution: Overdosing or allergic reactions include nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and slow heart beat. It is important to use this herb in conjunction with a licensed health care provider. Not recommended during pregnancy.

History/Folklore: The fossil record for centipedes dates back 430 million years ago.

The name “centipede” derives from the Latin prefix “centi-” for “hundred” and “pedis” meaning “foot.”

Centipedes are predominantly carnivorous. They are adapted to eat a variety of different available prey. Many larger animals prey upon centipedes, including mice, salamanders, beetles and snakes.

Water regulation is an important aspect of life for centipedes as they lose water rapidly in dry conditions and hence prefer moist environments.

Certain large centipedes are a food in China. They are skewered and grilled or deep fried, often sold by street vendors in large cities.

China, Thailand and Cambodia also use large centipedes steeped in liquor for long periods of time. The liquor is enjoyed as a special drink. This custom is based on healing principal’s from Traditional Chinese Medicine which uses the species as a medicine to reinvigorate Qi (Energy).

Centipedes are fast moving, agile and nocturnal. They are one of the “Five Deadly Venoms,” along with snakes, scorpions, gecko and toads.

Medicinal centipedes are captured in spring and summer, skewered with bamboo from head to tail and allowed to dry. Recommended dosage in powder form is from 0.06-0.1 grams. In decoction and teas, use 3-5 grams.

Centipede venom is used in Chinese Medicine to help treat incurable diseases. It is part of a principal to treat “deadly diseases with deadly poison.” Western science has confirmed  that its toxic poison contains a histamine-like substance and hemolytic protein.

Key Constituents:

(235)-hydroxylysine, Taurine and a Histamine-like substance.
Did you know?

Odd Legs

Centipedes always have an odd number of legs.
Facts

No Eyes

Most species of centipedes lack eyes. Their legs and antennae are used to sense their environments.
Fun fact!

Centipedes and Scorpions

Research has confirmed that combining centipedes and scorpions is a good treatment of hemiplegic paralysis caused by stroke.

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