Posted by Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc.
Have you heard the latest buzz? There are signs of some periodic visitors that usually show up every 13 or 17 years for one of the biggest mating parties around. In fact, you might have noticed some of their clothes left behind, either clinging to the side of trees or lying on the ground.
The metaphorical clothes scattered about are the dried shells of cicadas. And guess what? Those shells have been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine as an herb; and are still used today.
In Chinese, the dried carcass shells are called Chan Tui (蟬蛻), and they’re part of a category of herbs that release the exterior of the body.
According to classical texts, the perfect specimen has a thin – unfragmented shell, and is clean with no sand or dirt.
As an herb, Chan Tui has the properties of being sweet, salty, slightly cold, and has an affinity for the Liver and Lung meridians, which can be cooled down by the herb's cold temperature; particularly in cases of toxic heat brought on by a viral / bacterial invasion.
The main functions are:
The main indications are:
Disclaimer: I do not recommend going out and collecting cicada shells and consuming them for any reason. Herbs are mother nature's drugs and they can interact with other herbs, prescription medications, vitamins, minerals and supplements. You should always consult with a licensed & board certified practitioner and follow their recommendations. The Internet is not a substitute for an experienced practitioner.
For further reading:
Bensky, Dan, Steven Clavey, Erich Stöger, and Andrew Gamble. Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica. 3rd ed. Seattle: Eastland, 2003. Print.
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