The A to Z of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Part 2)

We previously wrote a post on traditional Chinese medicine that covered A to M. Click here if you missed part one! Here’s part two that covers N to Z!

N for Nu Zhen Zi

Nu zhen zi, meaning “female chastity seed” in Chinese, is more commonly known as ligustrum seed or privet fruit. The glossy black fruit looks quite like blackcurrant when it’s fresh from the trees, but it’s mostly used dried in TCM. Privet fruit is “sweet,” “slightly bitter” and “cool.” It’s believed to improve eyesight, prevent hair from turning gray and nourish the body’s “yin,” liver and kidneys. Refer to part one for the “five flavors” in TCM and “Y for Yin Yang” in this article for the hot and cold properties.

O for Oatmeal

Being “sweet” and “neutral,” oatmeal encourages peristalsis and nourishes the spleen, liver and “qi” while reducing sweating. Oatmeal is not a major TCM ingredient, but scientific research has proven its efficacy in lowering cholesterol levels when taken orally and in soothing eczema when applied topically.
Try: The Saem – Natural Oatmeal Mask Sheet

P for Purslane

Nicknamed “longevity grass” in TCM, purslane is a “sour” and “cold” herb that quenches thirst, removes heat from the liver, and drains toxins from the body. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it also minimizes ulcers and insect bites when applied topically.
Try: Mediheal – Tea Tree Care Cleansing Foam

Q for Qi

Literally meaning “air,” “qi” or “chi” refers to the vital life force that makes up and binds together all things in the universe. According to TCM, most human ailments are caused by imbalances or interruptions of the flow of “qi” within the human body.

R for Rice

Rice is a “bland” and “neutral” cereal in TCM, and different types of rice serve different purposes. Black rice nurtures the body’s “yin” and the kidney, improves eyesight and promotes blood circulation. Glutinous rice is best for detoxifying and warming up the body. White rice nourishes the stomach and strengthens the body, while brown rice encourages peristalsis. Rice water is perfect for toning up the skin and the body as a whole.
Try: THE FACE SHOP – Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil

S for Soy Bean

The “sweet” and “neutral” soy bean is good for draining away excess body fluids and toxins. It can be applied externally to treat ulcers.
Try: SANA – Soy Milk Whitening Cream

T for Turmeric

Considered “spicy,” “bitter” and “cold,” turmeric is used in TCM to treat rheumatism and inflammation. It’s also a potent antioxidant, and has anticoagulant and pain-relieving properties.
Try: Andalou Naturals – Vitamin C Turmeric + C Enlighten Serum

U for Ube

Ube is classified as “spicy,” “sweet” and “cold.” It helps to detoxify the body and warm up the stomach. It can also be used to treat tinea corporis, boils and insect bites.
Try: Four Elements – Moisture Cream (Wild Yam)

V for Vinegar

Vinegar is “sour,” “bitter” and “warm.” It helps to reduce swelling, promote blood circulation, heal bruises and detoxify.
Try: A’PIEU – Fruit Vinegar Sheet Mask (Lemon)

W for Witch Hazel

TCM practitioners use the “sweet” and “neutral” root of witch hazel to treat fatigue, ease strain and promote the circulation of “qi.” The resin from witch hazel is used to clear phlegm and refresh the senses.
Try: THAYERS – Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel With Aloe Vera Toner

X for Xi Gua (Watermelon)

The “sweet” and “cold” watermelon quenches thirst, drives away heat from the body, drains excess body fluid and eases hangovers. It can be used to treat aphthous, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Try: Holika Holika – Watermelon Mask Sheet

Y for Yin Yang

Yin and yang is a fundamental concept in TCM, with yin being the dark, female or cold and yang being the light, male or hot. The two are opposites but interdependent. An imbalance of yin and yang results in sickness. Food can be classified into “hot,” “warm,” “neutral,” “cool” and “cold” based on this concept.

Z for Zi Su (Perilla)

The “spicy” and “warm” perilla can be used to treat flu symptoms such as fever, stuffy nose and sore throat. Bathing in perilla leaf water promotes perspiration and detoxification. Perilla also helps to lower blood pressure and encourage peristalsis when taken orally.
Try: Dr. Althea – Premium Squalane Silk Mask