Bamboo (Zhu)Bamboo (Zhu)

Botanical Name: Phyllostachys nigra (Black Bamboo), Bambusa breiflora, B. tuldoides, B. texlis, Lopatherum gracile, Pleioblastus amarus.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the leaves of the bamboo plant are most commonly used medicinally. However, there are five parts of bamboo that are used and each has its own unique medicinal properties. They are bamboo shavings, dried sap, liquid sap, bland leaves and bitter leaves. While they can all overlap in function, they each have varying strengths and applications including the treatment of febrile diseases, depression and urinary dysfunction.

Below is an overview of Bamboo (Zhu), 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 Bamboo (Zhu).

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Western Name: Bamboo

Also Known As: Bamboo Shavings, Bamboo Sap/Dried Resin, Bamboo Sap/Liquid, Bamboo Leaves Bland or Bitter

Organs/Systems: Lungs, Nervous System, Circulation, Immunity

Key Actions: Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Febrifuge, Tonic, Promote Circulation, Inhibit Allergy Reactions, Astringing, Antispasmodic. Bamboo sap/dried resin (Tian Zhu Huang/AKA Tabasheer/B. texlis): Stimulating, Astringing, Febrifuge, Tonic, Antispasmodic, Aphrodisiac.

Medicinal Uses: Febrile diseases, epilepsy, depression, insomnia, coughs.


Pin Yin: Zhu

Also Known As: Zhu Ru (Bamboo Shavings), Tian Zhu Huang (Bamboo sap/dried resin), Zhu Li (Bamboo sap/liquid), Dan Zhu Ye (Bamboo leaves/Lopatherum gracile), Ku Zhu Ye (Bitter bamboo leaves/Pleioblastus amarus)

Meridians: Zhu Ru (Bamboo Shavings): Lung, Stomach, Gallbladder. Tian Zhu Huang (Bamboo sap/dried resin/AKA Tabasheer/B. texlis): Heart, Liver. Zhu Li (Bamboo sap/liquid): Heart, Lung, Stomach. Dan Zhu Ye (Bamboo leaves/Lopatherum gracile): Heart, Lung
Ku Zhu Ye (Bitter bamboo leaves/Pleioblastus amarus): Heart, Lung.

Key Actions: In general all varieties are Cooling, Calming and Resolve Phlegm.

Zhu Ru (Bamboo Shavings) – Clears Heat, Transforms Phlegm, Disperses Stagnant Qi

Tian Zhu Huang (Bamboo sap/dried resin/AKA Tabasheer/B. texlis) – Dislodges Phlegm, Clears Heat, Cools the Heart.

Zhu Li (Bamboo sap/liquid) – Clears Heat, Transforms Phlegm.

Dan Zhu Ye (Bamboo leaves/Lopatherum gracile) – This bland form of bamboo relieves Stomach Heat, perverse the flow of Qi (switching the normal flow of Qi from downward to upward): This form is less strong in clearing Heat than the bitter leaves, but it is good for promoting urination thereby clearing Heat from the Heart and Small Intestine. Treats urinary dysfunction especially in stressful situations and urinary retention with blood in the urine. It is also good for treating eczema due to Damp Heat.

Ku Zhu Ye (Bitter bamboo leaves/Pleioblastus amarus) – Clears Heat, especially effective for reducing Heat in the chest and eliminating irritability. It’s strength is treating febrile diseases with Heat in the Heart, Lung, or chest.

Medicinal Uses:
Zhu Ru (Bamboo Shavings) – Acute fevers, convulsions, bleeding due to heat, vomiting, eliminates irritability, restless sleep, and depression especially after a febrile disease.

Tian Zhu Huang (Bamboo sap/dried resin/AKA Tabasheer/B. texlis) – It is often used for children with high fevers, shortness of breath, coughs, common colds, sore throats, pneumonia, and sinus congestion.

Zhu Li (Bamboo sap/liquid) – Hemiplegia, facial paralysis, numbness, tingling or cramping in the legs. Cough due to Lung Heat with profuse expectoration and loss of consciousness.

Dan Zhu Ye (Bamboo leaves/Lopatherum gracile) – Promoting urination, Treats urinary dysfunction, eczema.

Ku Zhu Ye (Bitter bamboo leaves/Pleioblastus amarus) – It treats febrile conditions with fidgeting and lung inflammation.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Bamboo is the largest member of the grass family. It is an evergreen perennial flowering plant.

Bamboo is native to warm, moist, tropical temperate climates that occur across East Asia to Northern Australia, as well as from West India to the Himalayas. In the Americas, bamboo is native in Southern Argentina, central Chile, Mexico, and the Southeastern United States.


Bamboo (Zhu)Parts Most Frequently Used: Shaved Young Shoots, Resin (Dried and Liquid), Leaf

Flavors/Temps: In general, Sweet, Cold, Slightly Bitter.

Caution: Considered safe. Be sure to follow proper dosing for each variety of bamboo and bamboo preparation.

History/Folklore: Bamboo leaves are often used in formulas to treat febrile diseases. Bamboo shavings are commonly used to treat nausea and vomiting. Bamboo shavings combined with dried sap (AKA tabasheer) is commonly used to treat insomnia, coma, epilepsy, and convulsions. Bamboo shavings and liquid sap combined are used to treat coughs with excess sputum.

The liquid resin (Zhu Li) is not typically available outside China. Is the coldest of the bamboo herbs with a lubricating nature and a strongly eliminating phlegm-heat. Especially for phlegm-heat blocking the collaterals and meridians. The dried sap (Tian Zhu Huang) or the shaved stem (Zhu Ru) are used as substitutes. All bamboo substances have a mild sweet taste and all parts but the leaves are used to resolve phlegm.

Bamboo is especially popular for treating hot phlegm that obstructs the “orifices of the heart” affecting brain functions which includes such ailments as epilepsy, fainting, loss of consciousness from high fevers, and mental disorders associated with aging.

Tian Zhu Huang (Bamboo sap/dried resin/AKA Tabasheer/B. texlis) is the dried sap of bamboo and is commonly used in Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine. It is sometimes called bamboo silica as it is rich in silica. It is secreted from the joints and has a yellowish appearance. The high silica levels found in the dried sap supports nail and hair health. The leaves are also high in silica. Silica is known for strengthening all the cells in the body.

Dan Zhu Ye (Bamboo leaves/Lopatherum gracile) is very good for treating stomach disorders and respiratory disorders. Drinking bamboo leaf tea or eating the bamboo shoots can help lower cholesterol.

The leaves are also said to stimulate male infertility and influence thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These compounds are anticancer as they are full of nutrients and substances that help prevent the damage caused by free radicals that cause cancer. The high fiber levels in the leaves also help balance blood sugar, preventing diabetes and assisting weight loss.

Young bamboo stalks, known as shoots, are white in color and used in Asian cuisine. They are known to contain valuable enzymes, such as nuclease, deamidase and amylase that help digestive processes. The shoots are particularly useful for treating stomach and respiratory disorders and are easy to add to recipes and side dishes. They are mixed with other herbs to facilitate labor and easing the expulsion of the placenta.

The roots have been used for centuries as a cure for rabies.

Bamboo leaves help prevent maternal hypothyroxinema which takes place during a stage of fetal neuronal cell migration in a developing fetus. This function helps to combat autism and other birth defects while promoting healthy neural development.

The leaves are most frequently used as a general tonic, stimulant and aromatic properties.

The stems and leaves (Bland Bamboo Leaves/Zhu Ye) are especially useful for Heat in the Small Intestine with irritability and a dark red tip of the tongue.

Black bamboo is used as a diuretic, to lower fevers and as an expectorant. It is primarily used to treat coughs, sore throats, lung inflammation, respiratory infections and phlegm buildup in children.

Bamboo shavings and sap also treat lung infections and have a sedating effect. The shavings are especially good at stopping vomiting, including morning sickness. The outer surface of the bamboo rod is shaved off into long thin slices. It has a white-greenish appearance. It is only slightly cold.

The roots are used to stop bleeding including nosebleeds. The leaves and roots combined are used for fevers and convulsions, especially in babies.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, with some varieties growing up to 2 inches per hour. It grows without the use of chemicals and pesticides making it a wonderful plant for gardens and harvesting for food and medicines.

The plants stems are incredibly strong and can be used to make homes and structures several stories tall. China has an estimated 300 species of bamboo. India is second to China in bamboo harvesting, but has larger bamboo forests making up 13% of the country’s forest area compared to China’s 5%.

Key Constituents:

Flavonoids, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Proteins, Vitamin C, Minerals (including Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron) and Amino acids. Bamboo shavings: High levels of Acetylcholine (neurotransmitter).

Did you know?


Bamboo dried sap (AKA Tabasheer) is full of silica which is know to support nail, hair, bone, and dental health.



Bamboo leaves are being studied for their ability to help prevent asthma caused by inflammation of the lungs.

Fun fact!


A juice made from the leaves has been used to make a bamboo flavored beer.

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