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Clam Shell

What is Clam Shell?

Clam Shell (ge qio, 蛤壳), also known as Concha Meretricis seu Cyclinae, refers to the shell of Meretrix meretrix Linnaeus or Cyclina sinensis Gmelin, which belong to the Veneridae family.

Clams are shellfish that make up an important part of the web of life that keeps the seas functioning, both as filter feeders and as a food source for many different animals. Clams are often used in culinary dishes, such as clam chowder, miso soup and vongole. Also, the shells of clams can be used medicinally in some cultures.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Clam Shell falls under the category of ‘Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop cough’. Such herbs can treat Phlegm, which is caused by the accumulation of stagnation of fluids. Cold in nature, Clam Shell 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 in taste, Clam Shell can help to cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. In particular, Clam Shell targets the stomach, the Kidneys and the Lungs.

Functions and Benefits of Clam Shell

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

Clam Shell can clear Lung Heat and resolve sticky Phlegm. For the accumulation of Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs manifested as cough, wheezing, dyspnea, chest pain, yellow and sticky Phlegm, Clam Shell can be combined with other Lung-clearing and Phlegm-resolving herbs, antitussives and anti-asthmatics to enhance its effectiveness. Other symptoms that Clam Shell may be able to relieve include asthma and bronchitis.

Also, Clam Shell can soften hardness and dissipate nodulation. For goitre and scrofula caused by the congealing of Phlegm-fire, Clam Shell can be combined with other Phlegm-removing, hardness-softening and nodulation-dissipating herbs to enhance its effectiveness.

In addition, when calcined and powdered, Clam Shell can restrain acidity and alleviate pain, which is why it is often indicated for syndromes such as acid regurgitation, epigastric pain with excess stomach acid, haemorrhoids, bloody dysentery, gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers. Also, Clam Shell can relieve symptoms of water retention, skin irritations and scalds.

By promoting urination and expelling Dampness, Clam Shell can relieve painful urinary dysfunction, abnormal vaginal discharge and edema.

How to Use Clam Shell

The recommended daily dosage of Clam Shell is 10 – 15g, when used as a decoction. Alternatively, you can grind Clam Shell into powder for external application. 

To clear Heat and resolve Phlegm, Clam Shell is best used unprocessed. To restrain acidity and enhance its astringent properties, Clam Shell is best used in its calcined form.

Clam Shell and its supplements may be found in herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Clam Shell

Clam Shell should not be used by individuals experiencing Lung qi deficiency with Cold or yang deficiency.

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


Here is a summary for Clam Shell:

  • Herb name (Chinese): 蛤壳
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): gě qiào
  • Herb name (English): Clam Shell
  • Herb name (Botanical): Concha Meretricis seu Cyclinae
  • Origin of species: Meretrix meretrix Linnaeus; Cyclina sinensis Gmelin
  • Part(s) of herb used: Shell
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Along the coastal regions of China, including Liaoning and Hainan
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Bitter, Salty; Slightly cold; Administrates the Lung, Kidney and Stomach Meridians
  • Actions: Eases coughs with yellow oral discharge; Relieves symptoms of water retention in the body and skin irritations; Scalds

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Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.