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The Practical Herbalist


As write this article my fingers are purple from the juice of the mulberries I picked yesterday. The house I bought is blessed with a beautiful mature mulberry tree, a tree that holds a very special place in Chinese history and medicine.

The mulberry tree is more than a fruit bearing tree. Mulberry leaves are the one and only food of the silkworm. The production of silk in China has historically been one of the biggest industries. Herbalists have always looked to the plants that were close at hand for medicine. With large amounts of land being used to grow mulberry trees to support silkworms, it was inevitable that Herbalists would find medicinal uses for the mulberry tree. As it turns out just about every part of the mulberry tree can be used, including some of the things found around the mulberry tree.

Sang zhi, or mulberry twigs, are used to "expel wind and wind damp" and is used to treat edema, especially edema associated with pain in the upper extremities.

Sang ye, or mulberry leaf, is used to "expel wind from lungs". Medicinally it is used to fight the common cold, it can also be made into an eye wash to clear redness out of the eyes.

Sang bai pi or mulberry root bark, alleviates cough and wheezing as well as Lung infections. It also promotes urination.

Sang shen or bud of the mulberry fruit, "nourishes blood and yin" and is used to help many of the conditions of aging, such as ringing in the ears, dizziness, insomnia and premature graying of the hair.

Sang ji sheng, Loranthi seu Visci, is a parasite of the mulberry tree and is a type of mistletoe. It is used to tonify the functions of the body traditionally associated with the Liver and Kidneys. It expels "wind damp", nourishes the blood and calms the womb. It is used for pain in the low back and knees as well as for uterine bleeding during pregnancy. In modern times it is used to help treat high blood pressure.

Can sha, or silkworm feces, is used to "expel wind damp and harmonize the stomach". It is used in some types of rashes as well as for an upset stomach that is marked by vomiting and painful cramps.

Jiang can or dead sick silkworm, is used to "stop spasms (wind), expel wind, transform phlegm/nodules, clears throat". It is used for facial paralysis and seizures. It is also used swollen sore throat that results in a loss of voice, or where nodules are present in the throat.

It is rare to see these herbs in use here in the U.S.. In many cases there are other herbs that are considered more powerful or in the case of silkworm parts, just more marketable to the average American. It does remind us however that the power of herbs is not in what they are, but rather in the understanding of what can be done with the things that are close at hand.

David Bock

This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"

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David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066