Lu lu tong, or Liquidambaris fructus, is also the fruit from the Sweet Gum, those awesome spiky orbs that provide hours of fun and ammunition as a child! In Chinese medicine this herb is used to invigorate the Blood and free obstructions along channels that are causing stagnation; it's name actually means "All roads are Open". It is neutral in temperature and bitter in flavor.
This flavor profile is interesting as it primarily refers to the action of the herb, not the actual way it tastes. There are 5 categories of flavors in Chinese medicine: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and acrid (or spicy). Each taste also corresponds to a set of organs, called Zang Fu. Bitter herbs are associated with the Liver and often contain alkaloids that affect the nervous system and glycosides that affect the circulatory system. These herbs have the general actions of promoting the movement of either Qi or Blood and are usually also drying.
Lu lu tong is an important ingredient in the Tendon Lotion and the Trauma Liniment. In both of these preparations there is an action to move the Blood and either clear obstructions or prevent them from happening. Because of this strong action it, and both of these preparations, should be avoided during pregnancy as well as during times of bleeding.
This information is for educational purposes only. It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not meant to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.