What is Chun Pi?
Tree-of-Heaven Bark (chun pi, 椿皮), also known as Cortex Ailanthi, refers to the root bark or stem bark of Ailanthus altissima (Mil.) Swingle. This plant is often found in the China provinces of Shandong, Liaoning, Henan and Anhui. It was introduced to the United States as an ornamental plant in the late 1700s, and has become one of the most prevalent invasive trees in North Carolina.
This plant is typically a small tree, but is able to grow up to 80 feet tall. It has very large leaves, which can measure up to two to four feet long. Its leaves and other parts can release a strong, unpleasant odour that is somewhat similar to burnt peanut butter.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chun Pi falls under the category of ‘Herbs that stabilise and bind’. Such herbs can treat abnormal discharges and displacement of organs, including conditions such as diarrhoea, abnormal discharges from the vagina, penis or rectum, and prolapse of the uterus or rectum.
Cold in nature, Chun Pi can help individuals with too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a yang excess or a yin deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance. Bitter and pungent in taste, Chun Pi can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, Chun Pi can promote circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, Chun Pi targets the stomach and the large intestines.
Functions and Benefits of Chun Pi
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Chun Pi has the following health benefits.
Chun Pi can clear Heat, astringe intestines, dry Dampness, stop diarrhoea and stop bleeding. Due to the above properties, Chun Pi is often indicated for diarrhoea or dysentery caused by Damp-Heat, especially if there is hemafecia.
Also, Chun Pi can help to relieve chronic vaginal discharge caused by Damp-Heat, spermatorrhea, hematochezia,
With the ability to kill parasites, Chun Pi is frequently indicated for symptoms such as roundworms. This herb can also be applied topically to pruritic tinea-like rashes.
How to Use Chun Pi
The recommended daily dosage of Chun Pi is 6 – 15g, when used as decoctions, pills or powder. You may also pound the herb into powder or decoct it into paste for topical application. For external application, do consult your healthcare provider on the appropriate dosage for your condition.
You may find Chun Pi and its supplements, such as pills and powder, in herbal stores and Asian specialty stores.
Cautions and Side Effects of Chun Pi
Chun Pi should not be used by individuals experiencing Spleen or stomach deficiency-Cold or Kidney yin deficiency. Also, Chun Pi should not be used with other anti-parasitics or in large doses. Some side effects associated with overconsumption of Chun Pi include nausea and vomiting.
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Chun Pi to your healthcare routine!
Here is a summary for Chun Pi:
- Herb name (Chinese): 椿皮
- Herb name (Pin Yin): chūn pí
- Herb name (English): Tree-of-heaven Bark
- Herb name (Botanical): Cortex Ailanthi
- Origin of species: Ailanthus altissima (Mil.) Swingle
- Part(s) of herb used: Root bark or stem bark
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Shandong, Liaoning, Henan, Anhui
- Taste(s) & Properties: Bitter, astringent; Cold; Administrates the Liver and Large Intestine Meridians
- Actions: Eases excessive vaginal or menstrual discharge; Relieves chronic gastrointestinal discomforts, e.g. diarrhoea
Mao, P., Liu, S., Xue, J., Wu, Y., & Wang, C. (2018). Clinical research on the comprehensive curative effect of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine for pelvic inflammatory sequelae. Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research, 24, 2928. [Accessed on 12th August 2023]
Shao, Q., Li, T. Y., Quan, W., Wang, H., Yan, K. Y., Qiu, P. C., … & Lu, Y. Y. (2022). The alkaloids with neuroprotective effect from the root bark of Ailanthus altissima. Natural Product Research, 1-7.[Accessed on 12th August 2023]
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