Tai Zi Shen
What is Tai Zi Shen?
Heterophylly Falsestarwort Root (tai zi shen, 太子参), also known as Pseudostellaria Root, refers to the roots of Pseudostellaria heterophylla, a plant in the carnation family, Caryophyllaceae. This plant grows throughout most of central China, including provinces such as Hebei, Liaoning, Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Hubei.
While Tai Zi Shen has a name that means ‘Prince’s Ginseng’ in Chinese, it is not related to Ginseng at all. Between two to four inches long, Tai Zi Shen is yellowish-white in appearance and somewhat horn-shaped. The herb is often harvested in summer when most of its leaves and stems have withered. After the removal of its fibrous roots, the herb is dried under the sun for medicinal usage.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Tai Zi Shen falls under the category of ‘Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency’. Such herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency to replenish one’s ‘Four Treasures’ (qi, blood, yin, yang). Neutral in nature, Tai Zi Shen does not affect the yin-yang balance in your body. Bitter and sweet in taste, the herb tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.
Tai Zi Shen can also slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, the herb targets the Spleen and the Lungs.
Functions and Benefits of Tai Zi Shen
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Tai Zi Shen has the following health benefits.
Tai Zi Shen can strengthen the Spleen and tonify qi. This makes the herb an effective treatment for Spleen and stomach Deficiencies such as fatigue and anorexia. It can also address Qi Deficiency in the Lungs, such as spontaneous sweating. Tai Zi Shen may also strengthen the Spleen to treat loose stools, enhance one’s appetite and address eczema caused by a weak Spleen.
Tai Zi Shen can promote the generation of body fluids and treat chronic febrile disorders. The herb can thus nourish yin to address symptoms of Yin Deficiency, such as unrelenting fever and summer Heat.
Due to its above abilities, Tai Zi Shen is also often prescribed for symptoms such as spontaneous sweating, dryness in mouth, cough with shortness of breath, little phlegm, palpitation and insomnia.
New compilation of materia medica (Ben Cao Cong Xin, 本草从新) reviews that Tai Zi Shen is a vital tonic for primordial energy. Although Tai Zi Shen is far weaker than Ginseng’s properties in tonifying qi and generating yin fluids, it has mild and stable healing properties. This means that Tai Zi Shen is ideal for patients who are suffering from chronic diseases and require long-term treatment. More importantly, large doses of Tai Zi Shen have much less side effects than large doses of Ginseng.
Modern studies suggest that Tai Zi Shen is rich in saponins and fructose, which can help to slow down ageing, relieve fatigue and enhance the body’s immune system. Tai Zi Shen is beneficial to the physically weak and patients who have just recently recovered from their illnesses as it can improve physical health and promote disease recovery.
Tai Zi Shen may help to regulate blood sugar levels and aid in the management of diabetes as well. Tai Zi Shen may also improve one’s sleep quality as it can promote sound sleep and improve the symptoms of neurasthenia. In addition, Tai Zi Shen may help to enhance children’s physical fitness and promote children’s growth and development.
How to Use Tai Zi Shen
The recommended daily dosage of Tai Zi Shen is 10 – 30g, when ground into powder and stepped in hot water as tea.
Tai Zi Shen may also be applied topically to reduce bleeding and promote wound healing.
Dried, whole, or sliced Tai Zi Shen is available at some herbal shops and some specialty food stores. Some companies also sell Tai Zi Shen powder. Traditionally, the herb is stored in a lime pot.
Cautions and Side Effects of Tai Zi Shen
Tai Zi Shen should not be used together with Li Lu (Veratri).
Also, individuals who are experiencing syndromes caused by Excess of the Exterior or dominating pathogenic factors should avoid this herb too.
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Tai Zi Shen to your healthcare routine!
Here is a summary for Tai Zi Shen:
- Herb name (Chinese): 太子参
- Herb name (Pin Yin): tài zǐ shēn
- Herb name (English): Heterophylly Falsestarwort Root
- Herb name (Botanical): Radix Pseudostellariae
- Origin of species: Pseudostellaria heterophylla (Miq.) Pax ex pax et Hoffm.
- Part(s) of herb used: Root tuber
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong
- Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet, Slightly bitter; Administrates the Spleen and Lung Meridians
- Actions: Help to improve the digestive and respiratory functions
Hu, D. J., Shakerian, F., Zhao, J., & Li, S. P. (2019). Chemistry, pharmacology and analysis of Pseudostellaria heterophylla: a mini-review. Chinese Medicine, 14(1), 21.[Accessed on 17th January 2023]
Reinecke, M. G., & Zhao, Y. Y. (1988). Phytochemical studies of the Chinese herb tai-zi-shen, Pseudostellaria heterophylla. Journal of Natural Products, 51(6), 1236-1240. [Accessed on 17th January 2023]
Wong, C. K., Leung, K. N., Fung, K. P., & Choy, Y. M. (1994). The immunostimulating activities of anti-tumor polysaccharides from Pseudostellaria heterophylla. Immunopharmacology, 28(1), 47-54. [Accessed on 17th January 2023]
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