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What is Cuttlebone?

Cuttlebone (hai piao xiao, 路路通海螵蛸), also known as Os Sepiae or Endoconcha Sepiae, refers to the internal shell of Sepiella maindroni de Rochebrune or Sepia esculenta Hoyle, which belong to the Sepiidae family. 

Also known as cuttlefish, these animals have bones that are full of gas, which helps to control their buoyancy in water. For years, people have collected and used these bones for different purposes, such as making food supplements and crafting toys for birds. As cuttlefish is commonly found along coastlines, its bones are easy to spot on the shore after storms.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Cuttlebone falls under the category of ‘Herbs that stabilise and bind’. Such herbs are used to treat abnormal discharges and displacement of organs, including conditions such as diarrhoea, abnormal discharges from the vagina, penis or rectum, as well as prolapse of the uterus or rectum.

Warm in nature, Cuttlebone 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.

Pungent and salty in taste, Cuttlebone can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids, and it has a draining effect on the body by clearing accumulations, removing Phlegm and softening hard lumps. In particular, Cuttlebone targets the Spleen and the Kidneys.

Functions and Benefits of Cuttlebone

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

Cuttlebone can secure essence (jing) and stop leukorrhagia. For leukorrhagia caused by Kidney deficiency and insecurity of belt vessels, Cuttlebone can be combined with herbs that tonify one’s Kidneys and astringe to enhance its treatment effects. For abnormal vaginal discharge, Cuttlebone can be combined with other leukorrhagia-stopping herbs to enhance its effects. As for seminal emission and spermatorrhea caused by insecurity of one’s Kidneys, Cuttlebone can be combined with other Kidney-tonifying and essence-securing herbs to enhance its effects.

By astringing, Cuttlebone can stop bleeding as well, and it is thus indicated for many different types of bleeding syndromes. For example, to treat metrorrhagia and metrostaxis, Cuttlebone can be combined with other herbs that can stop bleeding to enhance its effects. 

A great herb to relieve stomach ache and acid regurgitation, Cuttlebone can restrain acidity and alleviate pain. Also, Cuttlebone can dry Dampness and cure sores and ulcers when used externally. For example, when treating eczema, sores and ulcers, Cuttlebone can be smashed into powder singly or combined with other herbs for external application.

How to Use Cuttlebone

The recommended daily dosage of Cuttlebone is 6 – 20g, when used as a decoction. For external application, do consult your healthcare provider on the appropriate dosage and method to be applied to the desired area for your condition.

Cuttlebone and its supplements, such as powder and extracts, can be found in herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Cuttlebone

Cuttlebone should not be used by individuals experiencing Heat with yin deficiency. Also, do note that extended usage of Cuttlebone may cause constipation.

Do note that Cuttlebone should not be used together with Prepared Aconite Root (Zhi Fu Zi). 

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


Here is a summary for Cuttlebone:

  • Herb name (Chinese): 海螵蛸
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): hǎi piāo xiāo
  • Herb name (English): Cuttlebone
  • Herb name (Botanical): Endoconcha Sepiae
  • Origin of species: Sepiella maindroni de Rochebrune; Sepia esculenta Hoyle
  • Part(s) of herb used: Inner shell
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Liaoning, Jiangsu, Zhejiang
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Salty, astringent; Slightly warm; Administrates the Kidney and Liver Meridians
  • Actions: Eases symptoms of premature ejaculation and excessive vaginal discharge; Relieves bleeding symptoms; Soothes stomach or abdominal discomforts, and heartburn due to excessive gastric acid and skin rashes

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