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Agarwood (Chen Xiang)

Close up of Agarwood (Chen Xiang)

What is Agarwood (Chen Xiang)?

Agarwood (chen xiang, 沉香), also known as Chinese Eaglewood or Lignum Aquilariae Resinatum, refers to the resinous wood of Aquilaria sinensis (Lour.) Gilg. Aquilaria sinensis and Aquilaria agallocha Roxb. The heart of the tree wood produces dark aromatic resin over time as part of its natural defence mechanism when infected with fungus. This resin can be produced either through natural causes of the wild or through the artificial means of inoculating it with resin-inducing substances.

Rare and precious, Agarwood is of high economic value, and its price can be as expensive as gold. Used to make a variety of items, from incense ingredients, beads, tea to essential oil and more, Agarwood has many commercial and medical uses. Extensively available in Malaysia, Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia, Agarwood is also cultivated in other countries to meet international demands.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Agarwood falls under the category of ‘Herbs that regulate qi’. Such herbs can treat qi stagnation to relieve symptoms such as depression, irritability, mood swings, menopausal symptoms, the development of breast swellings and various digestive disorders.

Warm in nature, Agarwood can help individuals with too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance. Bitter and pungent in taste, Agarwood can help to cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, Agarwood can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, Agarwood targets the Spleen, the Kidneys, the Lungs and the stomach.

Functions and Benefits of Agarwood (Chen Xiang)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Agarwood has the following health benefits.

Agarwood can promote the movement of qi and disperse Cold to alleviate pain. This herb is thus indicated for various syndromes of congealing Cold and Qi Stagnation. For example, Agarwood can relieve distending pain in chest and abdomen, gastric and abdominal pain due to Deficiency-Cold of the Spleen and the stomach, congealing cold in viscera due to Qi Deficiency in the middle jiao manifested as Heart and abdomen pain and loose stools.

Also, Agarwood can warm one’s middle energizer and check the adverse rise of qi, which makes it a great herb to arrest vomiting. For vomiting caused by the invasion of Cold in the stomach, Agarwood can be combined with other middle-energizer-warming and vomiting-arresting herbs to enhance its effectiveness. For chronic vomiting and hiccup caused by deficiency-cold in the Spleen and the stomach, Agarwood can be combined with other Spleen-invigorating, middle-energizer-warming and vomiting-arresting herbs to enhance its effectiveness.

In addition, Agarwood can stop dyspnea, and is thus indicated for Deficiency of Kidney yang and failure of the Kidneys to receive qi. Also, Agarwood is used to reduce bad breath and mouth odour.

Modern studies have shown that Agarwood may contain sedative and anti-asthmatic effects too.

Close up of Agarwood (Chen Xiang)
Agarwood (Chen Xiang) can help to relieve abdominal discomforts.

How to Use Agarwood (Chen Xiang)

The recommended daily dosage of Chen Xiang is 1 – 3g. It can be decocted or pounded into juice. If used in powdered form, it is recommended to use 0.5 – 1g of powder for oral consumption.

Chen Xiang can be found in many herbal stores and Asian specialty markets. We strongly encourage you to consult a professional before purchasing it, as Chen Xiang can be costly and it comes in different qualities. To make sure that you spend your money for what it’s worth, pick your Chen Xiang wisely.

Cautions and Side Effects of Agarwood (Chen Xiang)

Agarwood should not be used by individuals with prolapsed organs caused by Qi Deficiency or Yin Deficiency with Heat signs.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Agarwood to your healthcare routine!

Summary

Here is a summary for Agarwood (Chen Xiang):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 沉香
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): chén xiāng
  • Herb name (English): Chinese Eaglewood Wood
  • Herb name (Botanical): Lignum Aquilariae Resinatum
  • Origin of species: Aquilaria sinensis (Lour.) Gilg
  • Part(s) of herb used: Resin containing wood
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Hainan, Guangdong, Yunnan, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, India
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, bitter; Slightly warm; Administrates the Spleen, Stomach and Kidney Meridians
  • Actions: Relieves abdominal and gastrointestinal discomforts; Eases mild symptoms of asthmatic conditions due to deficiencies

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