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Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia)

Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia) in a mortar with pestle

What is Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia)?

Pinellia Ternata (ban xia, 半夏), also known as Rhizoma Pinelliae, Pinellia Tuber or Crow-dipper rhizome, refers to the dry tuber of Pinellia ternata (Thunb.) Breit, a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the Araceae family. In China, this plant is commonly called ‘Green Dragon’ due to the colour and shape of its inflorescence, which has a green hooded spathe and a long tongue-like extension of the spadix.

After the plant blossoms in May, the tubers are then excavated from the ground for medicinal usage. The dried Pinellia Tuber is spherical, semi-orbicular or oblique, with a white or light yellow surface and a yellow spotted residual cortex. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Pinellia Ternata falls under the category of ‘Warm herbs that transform phlegm and stop cough’. Such herbs can treat the early stages of Stagnation of fluids, which can become phlegm when it over-accumulates. Warm in nature, Pinellia Ternata can help individuals who have 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 in taste, Pinellia Ternata can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, Pinellia Ternata targets the Lungs, the Spleen and the stomach.

Functions and Benefits of Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia) has the following health benefits.

Pinellia Ternata can dry Dampness, resolve phlegm and turbidity, and relieve cough. In particular, it excels in treating Damp-Phlegm. For Damp-Phlegm obstruction of Lungs, obstruction of Lung qi, cough and adverse qi flow, profuse white expectoration, Pinellia Ternata can be combined with qi-regulating, Dampness-drying and phlegm-resolving herbs to enhance its effectiveness. For headache, vertigo, vomiting of phlegm and sputum caused by Damp-Phlegm invasion of the upper clear yang, Pinellia Ternata can be combined with Dampness-drying herbs and analgesics to enhance its effectiveness. Pinellia Ternata can also treat insomnia due to excessive internal phlegm, retained fluid and disharmony of stomach qi.

By resolving phlegm and checking adverse rise of qi to harmonise the stomach, Pinellia Ternata can relieve vomiting. It is especially indicated for vomiting caused by phlegm, retained fluid and stomach Cold, but can also be used for all kinds of vomiting such as vomiting caused by Stomach Heat, vomiting during pregnancy and vomiting caused by Stomach Deficiency.

In addition, Pinellia Ternata can relieve epigastric stuffiness caused by Phlegm-Heat obstruction and dissipate nodulation. For example, Pinellia Ternata can treat goiter, tumour, phlegm nodule, abscess and deep rooted carbuncle. Powdered Pinellia Ternata can be combined with egg whites to enhance its effectiveness in healing such symptoms topically.

top view herb ShengBanXia or Pinelliae Rhizoma or raw Ternate Pinellia
Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia) can help to relieve nausea and dizziness.

How to Use Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia)

The recommended daily dosage of Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia) is 3 – 10g, when used as a decoction. 

There are different types of processed Pinellia Ternata. Jiang Ban Xia is good at checking the adverse rising of qi and relieving vomiting. Fa Ban Xia is good at drying Dampness. Qing Ban Xia is good at resolving phlegm. Ban Xia Qu can resolve phlegm, relieve cough, promote digestion and remove food stagnation.

When Ban Xia is processed with Dried Bamboo Sap (Zhu Li), the warm and dry property of the herb is weakened and the action of resolving phlegm is enhanced. 

Unprocessed Ban Xia is mostly used externally. The roots will be dried, powdered and blended with egg white or ginger juice for external application to treat ulcerations and skin sores.

Side view herb FaBanXia or Rhizoma Pinelliae Preparatum or processed Pinellia Tuber
Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia), in the form of Fa Ban Xia, can help with Dampness.

Cautions and Side Effects of Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia)

Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia) is toxic if unprocessed. Unprocessed herb may irritate the mouth and throat cavities, and the gastrointestinal tract, leading to loss of voice, nausea or vomiting and diarrhoea. It may also cause difficulty in breathing or coma in severe cases.

Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia) should not be used by individuals experiencing dry cough or bleeding caused by Yin Deficiency, sore throat caused by Heat, hot phlegm conditions, blood disorders or pregnancy.

Also, Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia) should not be used together with Aconite (Wu Tou).

We strongly encourage you to consult a healthcare provider before deciding to add Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia) to your healthcare routine.

Summary

Here is a summary for Pinellia Ternata (Ban Xia):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 半夏
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): bàn xià
  • Herb name (English): Pinellia Tuber
  • Herb name (Botanical): Rhizoma Pinelliae
  • Origin of species: Pinellia ternata (Thunb.) Breit.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Tuber
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Sichuan, Hubei, Jiangsu, Anhui
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent; Warm; Administrates the Spleen, Stomach and Lung Meridians
  • Actions: Reduces phlegm and improves circulation in the body; Relieves nausea and dizziness; Relieves symptoms of glandular swellings

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