Common Selfheal Fruit Spike (Xia Ku Cao)
What is Common Selfheal Fruit Spike (Xia Ku Cao)?
Common Selfheal Fruit Spike (xia ku cao, 夏枯草), also known as Spica Prunellae, refers to the spikes of Prunella vulgaris, a small and hearty herb found in North America, Europe, Asia and other temperate regions. A member of the mint family, this plant has purple flowers, and its spikes are harvested when they turn reddish-brown in summer. After being harvested, the impurities of Common Selfheal Fruit Spike are removed and the herb is dried for medicinal usage.
Common Selfheal Fruit Spike is a key ingredient of the famous Sang Ju drink, a herbal drink handed down from the Qing dynasty that can relieve tired eyes, dizziness and ailments by removing Heat from the Liver. In Europe, Common Selfheal Fruit Spike is also used as a remedy for illnesses such as diarrhoea, hemorrhage and gynecological disorders.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Xia Ku Cao falls under the category of ‘Herbs that clear Heat, purge fire and clear summer Heat’. Such herbs are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as Internal Heat in TCM. Most of the herbs in this category possess both antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Cold in nature, Xia Ku Cao 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, Xia Ku Cao can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, this herb can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, the herb targets the gallbladder and the Liver.
Functions and Benefits of Common Selfheal Fruit Spike (Xia Ku Cao)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Common Selfheal Fruit Spike has the following health benefits.
Common Selfheal Fruit Spike can clear and purge fire in the Liver to relieve symptoms caused by Liver fire, such as blood-shot and swollen eyes, red eye infection, watery eyes and poor vision. For example, Common Selfheal Fruit Spike can be soaked in granulated sugar water to relieve painful eyes. For yin deficiency with hyperactivity of yang, Common Selfheal Fruit Spike can be combined with other yin-nourishing and yang-subduing herbs to enhance its effectiveness.
Common Selfheal Fruit Spike can also be used to relieve sores and abscesses caused by Heat toxins, such as scrofula, goiter, and hyperplasia of mammary glands caused by the Stagnation of Liver Qi transformed into fire. By clearing Heat and relieving toxicity, Common Selfheal Fruit Spike can dissipate nodulation, mumps, swollen glands, swollen thyroid, neck swelling, breast cyst and sore throat. This herb is often combined with other Heat-clearing and toxicity-relieving herbs to strengthen its effects.
Modern research has also shown that Common Selfheal Fruit Spike can treat hypertension by lowering blood pressure levels. The herb is used to treat Liver-Heat hypertension manifested as headache, dizziness and irritability. Common Selfheal Fruit Spike may possess cancer-fighting properties as well, as it contains specific carbohydrates that may prevent tumour growth and induce the death of cancer cells.
Common Selfheal Fruit Spike may also help to prevent complications associated with diabetes. Some studies have suggested that the herb contains compounds that may inhibit enzymes that break down carbohydrates in your body, which then lead to lower blood sugar levels. Common Selfheal Fruit Spike may even protect your body against atherosclerosis, the hardening of arteries that increase the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases.
Common Selfheal Fruit Spike is often cited as a possible treatment for herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is a disease marked by contagious sores around your mouth or genitals. In test-tube studies, Common Selfheal Fruit Spike has been shown to block the replication of HSV cells. The herb may also protect against herpes by stimulating the activity of immune cells such as macrophages, which helps your body to fight infections.
In addition, Common Selfheal Fruit Spike may help to fight inflammation in your body and relieve inflammatory diseases, such as colitis.
How to Use Common Selfheal Fruit Spike (Xia Ku Cao)
The recommended daily dosage of Common Selfheal Fruit Spike is 10 -15g, when consumed as a decoction. Common Selfheal Fruit Spike is also available in other supplement forms such as pills, liquid-extract, balms and ointments. Common Selfheal Fruit Spike can be found as either a fresh cut or a dried herb too.
Common Selfheal Fruit Spike can be found in many herbal stores and Asian specialty stores.
Cautions and Side Effects of Common Selfheal Fruit Spike (Xia Ku Cao)
Common Selfheal Fruit Spike should not be used by individuals who have a weak Stomach or Spleen, poor gastrointestinal functions or rheumatic diseases. If not, the herb may worsen your condition and cause diarrhea. Pregnant or breast-feeding individuals should refrain from this herb for the time being too.
Common Selfheal Fruit Spike may cause allergic reactions such as nausea, vomiting, itching and skin rashes.
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Common Selfheal Fruit Spike to your healthcare routine.
Here is a summary for Common Selfheal Fruit Spike (Xia Ku Cao):
- Herb name (Chinese): 夏枯草
- Herb name (Pin Yin): xià kū cǎo
- Herb name (English): Common Selfheal Fruit-Spike
- Herb name (Botanical): Spica Prunellae
- Origin of species: Prunella vulgaris L.
- Part(s) of herb used: Fruit spike
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Henan
- Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, bitter; Cold: Administrates the Liver and Gall Bladder Meridians
- Actions: Eases eye discomforts, headaches and dizziness; Relieves swollen mammary glands; Helps to dissolve phlegm, and relieves symptoms of glandular swellings
Lin, L. M., Gao, H. M., & Zhu, J. J. (2015). Prunella vulgaris L. 夏枯草 (Xiakucao, Common Selfheal). Dietary Chinese Herbs: Chemistry, Pharmacology and Clinical Evidence, 469-475.[Accessed on 10th February 2023]
Pan, J., Wang, H., & Chen, Y. (2022). Prunella vulgaris L.–A Review of its Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemistry, Quality Control and Pharmacological Effects. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 13, 903171. [Accessed on 10th February 2023]
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