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Centipeda minima (E Bu Shi Cao)

Close up of Centipeda minima (E Bu Shi Cao)

What is Centipeda minima (E Bu Shi Cao)?

Centipeda minima (e bu shi cao, 鹅不食草), also known as Herba Centipedae or Small Centipeda Herb, is an annual herb that belongs to the Asteraceae family. A common weed distributed in tropical areas of East Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania, E Bu Shi Cao thrives in humid environments, and often grows on the sides of aquatic vegetables, rice and soybean fields.

E Bu Shi Cao is usually collected from May to June every year, where people will gather all parts of the herb, remove sediments and wash the herb with water, dry it under the sun, and use it for medicinal purposes. E Bu Shi Cao has been used in Chinese herbal medicine since the Tang Dynasty, as recorded in the Food Properties Materia Medica, which is thought to be written around 937 – 957 AD.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), E Bu Shi Cao falls under the category of ‘Warm/Acrid herbs that release the exterior’. Such herbs can treat early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, eyes, ears, nose, throat or skin. It is believed that E Bu Shi Cao can induce sweating by increasing the flow of sweat to our capillary pores, which can expel external diseases from the body and prevent them from invading further.

Warm in nature, E Bu Shi Cao 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. Sweet in taste, E Bu Shi Cao can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body, and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, E Bu Shi Cao targets the Lungs and Liver.

Functions and Benefits of Centipeda minima (E Bu Shi Cao)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Centipeda minima (E Bu Shi Cao) has the following health benefits.

E Bu Shi Cao can disperse Wind-Cold and unblock nasal passages. The herb is used for acute nasal and sinus obstructive patterns, both internally and topically, especially when accompanied by red and dry eyes. E Bu Shi Cao is also effective in treating runny nose, stuffy nose, acute rhinitis, chronic simple rhinitis, hypertrophic rhinitis, allergic rhinitis, and chronic bronchitis. With the ability to resolve phlegm and stop cough, E Bu Shi Cao is used for cold phlegm stagnation syndromes too.

E Bu Shi Cao can disperse Wind-Dampness and pathogens as well. It can resolve toxicity, reduce swelling, benefit one’s joints and relieve pain. Thus, E Bu Shi Cao can be used topically for toxic and traumatic swellings, as well as localised Bi (痹) pain. The herb is also said to be good for insect bites and snake bites.

Today, not only are there about 50 kinds of TCM prescriptions that contain E Bu Shi Cao, this herb has also been used as an important ingredient in many patent medicines for allergic rhinitis. 

Close up of Centipeda minima (E Bu Shi Cao)
Centipeda minima (E Bu Shi Cao) can help to relieve nasal congestions.

How to Use Centipeda minima (E Bu Shi Cao)

The recommended daily dosage of E Bu Shi Cao is 5 – 9g, when used as a decoction or pounded into juice.

Other than consuming E Bu Shi Cao, the herb may be applied topically too as nose drops or being puffed into the nose to help clear nasal congestion.

E Bu Shi Cao and its supplements, such as pills and powder, may be found in herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Centipeda minima (E Bu Shi Cao)

E Bu Shi Cao should not be used by individuals experiencing Wind-Heat. Individuals who have weak digestive systems or are experiencing gastric problems, especially peptic ulcers and gastritis, should use this herb with caution too.

Do note that over-consumption of E Bu Shi Cao should be strictly avoided. Overdose of this herb may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, acute abdominal pain, gastric discomfort and other adverse reactions. Also, avoid taking this herb on an empty stomach. It is best to consume this herb within an hour after a meal.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add E Bu Shi Cao to your healthcare routine!

Summary

Here is a summary for Centipeda minima (E Bu Shi Cao):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 鹅不食草
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): é bú shí cǎo
  • Herb name (English): Small Centipeda Herb
  • Herb name (Botanical): Herba Centipedae
  • Origin of species: Centripeda minima (L.) A. Br. et Aschers.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Whole plant
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Most parts of China
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent; Warm; Administrates the Lung Meridians
  • Actions: Relieves nasal congestion, coughs and influenza-related headaches

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