Silkworm (Jiang Can)
Botanical Name: Bombyx Mori
Not commonly used in the west, in China, street vendors sell roasted silkworm pupae as a snack. Silkworms have even been proposed for cultivation by astronauts as a space food for long-term missions. Used medicinally, silkworms are used for treating infant convulsions, preventing the signs of aging skin, treating sore throats and are highly effective for treating facial paralysis caused by stroke.
Below is an overview of Silkworm (Jiang Can), 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 Silkworm (Jiang Can).
Western Name: Silkworm
Also Known As: N/A
Organs/Systems: Nervous System, Skin, Face, Throat
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Analgesic, Antispasmodic, Detoxicant, Astringent, Tonic, Sedative, Aphrodisiac, Anti-inflammatory. Abdominal distension, Bells Palsy, infantile convulsions, sore throat, facial paralysis.
Pin Yin: Jiang Can
Also Known As: Bai Jiang Can, Can Sha (silkworm feces)
Meridians: Liver, Lung, Stomach
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Expels Wind: headache, red eyes, sore throat, loss of voice, itchy skin. Expels Liver Wind/Stops Spasms: convulsions, spasms, sore throat, toothache, facial paralysis (including facial paralysis and slurred speech caused by stroke), tetanus. Eliminates Phlegm/Resolves Masses: Facial paralysis caused by stroke, Damp or Wind Damp, scrofula.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Powdered Insect
Flavors/Temps: Acrid, Sweet, Salty, Neutral
Caution: It can cause allergic reactions (an acne-like rash, dry mouth or nausea) As silkworm has anticoagulant properties use with care if you have pre-existing bleeding disorders. Not recommended for pregnant women.
History/Folklore: Silkworm is a classic herb and has been used for centuries in Oriental medicine. It is noted in the oldest existing Chinese pharmacopoeia for treating infantile convulsions, submandibular lymphadenitis, skin itching, sore throat and more.
It is often used to help clear skin conditions making skin look younger by helping to reduce age spots. Silkworms contain an active element of mercerization, which helps adjust hormone secretion, scavenge free radicals and remove the melasma caused by endocrine disorders and aging pigments due to anti-lipid peroxidation.
Extracts made from silkworm have strong anticoagulant properties and an alcohol extract made from the worms inhibits the breathing of human hepatoma cells making the worms a treatment for rectal-tumor type polyps.
Combined with fresh ginger the combination is used to treat swollen body and clenched teeth due to tetanus.
The name Bai Jiang Can (translates as white stiff silkworm) derives from the surface of the worms being covered in white mycelium and conidia. This powdering substance is known for have a good hypoglycemic effect.
Typical dosage is 3-10 grams, in powdered form the dosage is 1-3 grams and in tincture 2-4 ml. Good quality is thick, stiff, and white.
The herb Can Sha (silkworm feces) is also used to dispel Wind and Damp. It is more often used to help harmonize the stomach and prevent vomiting, diarrhea and cramping due to Damp in the Middle Jiao.
Silk was so valuable and protected by the Chinese producers that legends claim that a Chinese princess hid silkworms in her hair as part of her dowry, helping to smuggle them out of China. It is also said that Christian monks smuggled the silkworms out of China in the the first century AD and sold them to the Byzantine Empire.
Silkworm – Lipids, Protein, Organic acids, Amino acids, Vitamin E, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Chromium. The white powder on the surface of the silkworm – Ammonium oxalate.
Bombyx mori (silkworm) is the primary producer of silk.
Mahatma Gandhi was critical of silk production because of his belief in “do no harm to any living thing,” including the moths. His belief prompted him to promote cotton spinning machines as an alternate choice to silk
The silkworms preferred food is white mulberry leaves.
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