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Hemp Seed in TCM:
Explore the properties of Hemp Seed according to Chinese
Nutrition and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):
Channels: LI, ST, SP
In terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Hemp Seed is known for its ability to tonify yin.
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Pinyin: Huǒ Má Rén
Parts used: Dried ripe fruit
TCM nature: Neutral
TCM taste(s): Sweet
Scientific name: Cannabis sativa
Other names: Cannabis seeds, Marijuana seeds
Use of hemp seeds (Huo Ma Ren) in TCM
Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.
Preparation: Harvest when the fruit is mature, remove impurities and dry
Dosage: 10 to 15g.
Main actions according to TCM*: Moistens the Intestines and unblocks Food Stagnation caused by Dryness. Nourishes the Yin and relieves constipation caused by Yin Deficiency. Cools Heat and aids healing of sores.
Primary conditions or symptoms for which hemp seeds may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Constipation Sores
Contraindications*: It contains muscarine and choline. Do not take in large amounts (60 -120g).
Common TCM formulas in which hemp seeds are used*:
- For Yin and Blood Deficiency with constipation caused by a lack of fluids combine hemp seeds with dong quai (Dang Gui) and prepared rehmannia (Shu Di huang).
- For coronary heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, myocarditis, arrhythmia, hyperthyroidism or neurasthenia combine hemp seeds with jujube dates (Da Zao), ginseng (Ren Shen), liquorice (Gan Cao), unprepared rehmannia (Di Huang), dwarf lilyturf roots (Mai Dong), cinnamon twigs (Gui Zhi) and fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang).
- For constipation caused by Dryness of the Intestines combine hemp seeds with mulberry fruits (Sang Shen), black sesame seeds (Hei Zhi M?) and fleeceflower roots (He Shou Wu).
- For chronic constipation due to dryness or Qi deficiency combine hemp seeds with bush cherry pits (Yu Li Ren) and apricot seeds (Xing Ren).
Key TCM concepts behind hemp seeds (Huo Ma Ren)’s properties
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), hemp seeds are plants that belong to the ‘Laxative herbs that drain downward’ category. The herbs in this category are those whose main purpose is to treat constipation. They’re called ‘laxative’ because they’re often rich in oils. This allows them to lubricate the Intestines in order to help it remove the stools from the body.
Furthermore hemp seeds are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that hemp seeds typically don’t affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many “Hot” (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang excess. The inverse is true as well: too many “Cold” (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin excess. The Neutral nature of hemp seeds means that you don’t have to worry about that!
Hemp seeds also taste Sweet. The so-called “five elements” theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like hemp seeds tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.
The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such hemp seeds are thought to target the Spleen, the Stomach and the Large intestine. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. The Large Intestine receives the “impure” parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces.
Research on hemp seeds(Huo Ma Ren)
Hemp Seed Pill is safe and effective for alleviating functional constipation. 1
1. Cheng CW, Bian ZX, Zhu LX, Wu JC, Sung JJ. (2011). Efficacy of a Chinese herbal proprietary medicine (Hemp Seed Pill) for functional constipation. Am J Gastroenterol. , 106(1):120-9. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2010.305. Epub 2010 Nov 2.
Use of hemp seeds (Huo Ma Ren) as food
Hemp seeds are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Hemp seed tabbouleh or Hempseed hummus.
Hemp seeds Chinese: 火麻仁 Pinyin: Huǒ Má Rén Parts used: Dried ripe fruit TCM nature: Neutral TCM taste(s): Sweet Scientific name: Cannabis sativa Other names: