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Bamboo Stem (Zhu Ru)

Close up of Bamboo Shavings, also known as Bamboo Stem (Zhu Ru) TCM Herb

What is Bamboo Stem (Zhu Ru)?

Bamboo Stem (zhu ru, 竹茹), also known as Bamboo Shavings, refer to the long, thin slices taken directly from the culm, the middle layer of a Bamboo’s stem. Bamboo is a tall, tree-like grass that grows throughout the Southern part of China and Southeast Asia. It has a hollow wooden stem (the culm) which usually grows in a branching cluster. Due to its rigidity, Bamboo can grow up to a height of more than 120 feet.

The fastest growing plant in the world, some varieties of Bamboo can grow up to 2 inches per hour. Its culms are often used to make objects, such as walking sticks, fishing poles, and some types of furniture. Also, Bamboo Stem is extracted from the culm with a carving instrument after the removal of the outer green skin of the Bamboo Stalk.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Zhu Ru falls under the category of ‘Cool herbs that transform phlegm and stop cough’. Such herbs can help to treat the later stages of Fluid Stagnation in the body and resolve phlegm. Cool in nature, Bamboo Stem can help individuals who have too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a Yang Excess or a Yin Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance.

Sweet in taste, Bamboo Stem can slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. The herb also has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, the herb targets the gallbladder, the stomach and the Lungs.

Functions and Benefits of Bamboo Stem (Zhu Ru)

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

Bamboo Stem can clear and resolve Heat-Phlegm, which helps to purify Lung-qi and stop coughing. For coughing caused by Lung-Heat and yellow, sticky phlegm, Bamboo Stem can be combined with other Heat-clearing or phlegm-resolving herbs to enhance its effectiveness.  For chest oppression, profuse phlegm, restlessness and insomnia caused by the stirring up of phlegm-fire, Bamboo Stem can be combined with other phlegm-resolving and tranquilizing herbs to enhance its effects. Other symptoms caused by yin and qi deficiencies that Bamboo Stem may help to relieve include memory loss and hand tremors.

Bamboo Stem can also clear stomach Heat to check the adverse rising of qi and relieve vomiting, belching, bad breath and morning sickness. Its ability to cool blood also makes it a great herb to stop bleeding. When combined with Heat-clearing and blood-cooling herbs, it is indicated for hematemesis, epistaxis, metrorrhagia, and metrostaxis.

Modern studies have also suggested that Bamboo Stem may be able to increase your appetite and energy levels. The high concentrations of cellulose in Bamboo Stem have been shown to stimulate your appetite, prevent constipation and improve digestion. This makes it a great herb for individuals who are suffering from digestive disorders and pregnancy-related nausea.

Containing very few calories, this herb may also help to support a low-carbohydrate diet by providing plenty of nutrients with very few carbohydrates. Low carbohydrate diets have been shown to help prevent or improve some medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.

Close up of Bamboo Shavings, also known as Bamboo Stem (Zhu Ru) on wooden table
The Bamboo Stem (Zhu Ru) is a TCM herb that can help to relieve Heat and dry mouth.

How to Use Bamboo Stem (Zhu Ru)

The recommended daily dosage of Bamboo Stem is 6 – 10g, but the exact dosage depends on the condition being treated. To treat phlegm-related conditions, it is best to consume Bamboo Stem in its unprocessed form. To treat vomiting, you can consume Bamboo Stem after they are fried with ginger juice.

Fresh and powdered Bamboo Stems can be found at some herbal shops and Asian markets. 

Cautions and Side Effects of Bamboo Stem (Zhu Ru)

Bamboo Stem should not be consumed by patients who are suffering from Spleen Deficiency or cough caused by Cold.

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with Bamboo Stem. However, we strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before adding Bamboo Stem to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Bamboo Stem (Zhu Ru):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 竹茹
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): zhú rú
  • Herb name (English): Bamboo Shavings
  • Herb name (Botanical): Caulis Bambusae in Taenia
  • Origin of species: Bambusa tuldoides Munro; Sinocalamus beecheyanus (Munro) McClure var. pubescens P. F. Li; Phyllostachys nigra (Lodd.) Munro var. henonis (Mitf.) Staphf ex Rendle
  • Part(s) of herb used: Middle shavings of stem
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Southern part of China, Along Yangtze river basin
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Slightly cold; Administrates the Lung and Stomach, Heart and Gallbladder Meridians
  • Actions: Eases coughs with yellow oral discharge; Relieves dry mouth, bad breath, nausea and vomiting; Relieves heat and restlessness; Eases bleeding symptoms

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