Ku Lian Pi
What is Ku Lian Pi?
Szechwan Chinaberry Bark (ku lian pi, 苦楝皮), also known as Cortex Meliae, refers to the dry bark and root cortex of Melia azedarach L. or M. toosendan Sieb. et. Zucc. , which are trees that belong to the Meliaceae family. The former plant is found in most areas of China, while the latter is usually found in China provinces such as Sichuan, Hubei and Guizhou.
High-quality Ku Lian Pi has a dry, thick and large root cortex, as well as a bark that is smooth, tender with holes and difficult to peel off.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ku Lian Pi falls under the category of ‘Herbs that expel parasites’. Such herbs can treat roundworms, tapeworm, hookworm and other intestinal parasites. These herbs are usually combined with other herbs to assist its functions. As they tend to possess toxicity, these herbs are typically prescribed for short periods.
Cold in nature, Ku Lian Pi can help individuals with too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a yin deficiency or a yang excess, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance. Bitter in taste, Ku Lian Pi can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. In particular, Ku Lian Pi targets the Spleen, the stomach and the Liver.
Functions and Benefits of Ku Lian Pi
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Ku Lian Pi has the following health benefits.
Ku Lian Pi can expel parasites and treat various intestinal parasitic worms, especially roundworms. This herb is often used in decoctions, pills, tablets and syrup to treat symptoms such as ascariasis, a type of roundworm infection.
For enterobiasis (pinworm infection), Ku Lian Pi can be decocted with Stemona Root (Bai Bu) and Smoked Plum (Wu Mei) to be used as an enema for two to four consecutive days. Other intestinal parasites that Ku Lian Pi can tackle include threadworms, hookworms and vaginal trichomonas infections.
By clearing Heat and drying Dampness, Ku Lian Pi can kill worms and relieve itching, which makes it an effective treatment for itching caused by scabies, tinea capitis and eczema. The herb can be ground into powder, mixed with vinegar and pig fat, and applied on the affected area.
How to Use Ku Lian Pi
The recommended daily dosage of Ku Lian Pi is 4.5g – 9g, when used as a decoction. Alternatively, you may use the fresh herb with a dosage of 15 – 30g. For external application, it is best to consult your healthcare provider on the recommended dosage for your condition.
Ku Lian Pi and its supplements, such as pills and powder, can be found in herbal shops and Asian specialty markets.
Cautions and Side Effects of Ku Lian Pi
Ku Lian Pi should not be used by individuals experiencing Liver or Heart diseases, pregnancy, peptic ulcers, weak constitutions, or Spleen and stomach deficiency-Cold. Also, do not consume Ku Lian Pi in large doses or over a long period of time.
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Ku Lian Pi to your healthcare routine!
Here is a summary for Ku Lian Pi:
- Herb name (Chinese): 苦楝皮
- Herb name (Pin Yin): kǔ liàn pí
- Herb name (English): Szechwan Chinaberry Bark
- Herb name (Botanical): Cortex Meliae
- Origin of species: Melia toosendan Sieb. et Zucc.; Melia azedarach L.
- Part(s) of herb used: Stem or root bark
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Sichuan, Hubei, Guizhou, Henan
- Taste(s) & Properties: Bitter; Cold; Administrates the Spleen, Stomach and Liver Meridians
- Actions: Eases skin irritations; Relieves infections of intestinal parasites
Khan, S. A., & Lee, T. K. W. (2023). Identifying potential pharmacological targets and molecular pathways of Meliae cortex for COVID-19 therapy. Frontiers in immunology, 14, 1128164. [Accessed on 8th August 2023]
Liu, Q., Luyten, W., Pellens, K., Wang, Y., Wang, W., Thevissen, K., … & Luo, G. (2012). Antifungal activity in plants from Chinese traditional and folk medicine. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 143(3), 772-778.[Accessed on 8th August 2023]
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