Pinellia (Ban Xia)
Botanical Name: Pinellia ternata
The processed root of pinellia is one of the most important and frequently used herbs in Chinese Medicine to help transform phlegm and stop coughing. As the roots are toxic when raw, they are first soaked and often blended with ginger to further relieve any toxic side-effects. In China, pinellia is the primary herb for treating phlegm-damp syndromes including nausea, vomiting, insomnia and bloating. For all its abilities, it is a wonderfully gentle herb, able to treat the young and old alike.
Below is an overview of pinellia, 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 pinellia.
Western Name: Pinellia
Also Known As: N/A
Organs/Systems: Lung, Stomach
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Anti-inflammatory.
Pin Yin: Ban Xia
Also Known As: Green Dragons
Meridians: Lung, Spleen, Stomach
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Warms and Transforms Phlegm-Cold: causes rebellious Qi (Energy) to descend, easing nausea, vomiting, coughs with copious white sputum, fainting, dizziness, stroke, dyspnea, headache, insomnia. Harmonizes the Stomach/Stops Vomiting. Dissipates Nodules/Reduces Distension: bloating, phlegm in the chest, nodules in the neck, goiter, obstructions by phlegm anywhere in the body, focal distension in the chest and epigastrum. Externally: warts and carbuncles, snakebites, breast abscesses and ulcers.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Tuber
Flavors/Temps: Warm, Drying, Toxic
Caution: Because the herb is warming and drying it is not recommended for treating what the Chinese call Yin deficient conditions. It is never used in cases of bleeding or depleted Body Fluids.
History/Folklore: In China, pinellia, is commonly called “Green Dragons” due to the color and shape of the inflorescence, which possess a green, hooded spathe from which extends a long, tongue-like extension of the spadix, giving the plant a dragon-like appearance. The name also derives from the plant blossoming in the lunar month of May, when plants are green and blooming identifying the plant with “green” and “dragons” for its ability to lift the spirits and calm Qi (Energy) in the body.
The plant blossoms in May, after which the tubers are excavated from the ground for medicinal use. The dried tuber is spherical in shape with a white or light yellow surface. The best quality is bigger, clean white, solid and with a consistency that is described as “fine mealiness.”
The raw roots are soaked for seven days in water and then in ginger juice or boiled in ginger tea that contains a quantity of alum in order to remove any toxicities. The initial herbal material is opaque white and once processed becomes a translucent yellowish In color.
Tests have shown tincture of pinellia are useful in treating acute toothaches.
Typical dosing is 4.5-12g of the raw herb is ONLY used externally to treat ulcerations as the raw form is toxic.
The roots that have been deep fried with ginger and vinegar, or processed with licorice and lime (calcium carbonate) in order to remove toxicity are called “Fa Ban Xia,” and are the form most typically provided at pharmacies when “Ban Xia” is asked for. When the herb is treated with just ginger juice it is called “Ginger Pinellia” or “Jiang Ban Xia.”
Variations of Ban Xia (Pinellia): “Sheng Ban Xia” is unprocessed raw pinellia. “Qing Ban Xia” is soaked, boiled, or salted in alum solution (reducing the tingling effects in the throat due to the toxic aspects of raw pinellia.) “Jiang Ban Xia” is, as mentioned above, boiled and salted with ginger. “Fa Ban Xia” is the most commonly used form and is processed with lime (calcium carbonate). “Zhu Li Ban Xia” is processed with bamboo juice. “Qu Ban Xia” is fermented with flour and ginger juice and is used to stop cough and stop diarrhea.
Coniine, Homogentisic acid, Nicotine, Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid, Arginine, Alkaloids, Oxalates.
Slices of the herb can be used as a base for Traditional Chinese Medicine moxabustion treatments.
Raw Root is Toxic
The raw root is toxic and is soaked in water to remove the oxalates and other irritants in the plant’s roots.
Raw Root Used Externally Only
The raw root is only used externally in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
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