Tu bie chong is a powerful herb in Chinese herbalism for moving blood and helping the bones and sinews heal after traumatic damage. This is an incredible herb that has a strong action on invigorating blood flow which when taken internally can help resolve long-standing stasis issues and when used externally helps heal the tissues in the sequlae of trauma. It’s one of the secret weapons in our Eagle Claw Liniment and plays an important role in decreasing swelling and pain. This is not an herb for the faint hearted! It's one of my favorite insect allies, offering us powerful chong medicine!
Tu bie chong is commonly called the wingless cockroach, but it’s not the kind of cockroach you’re thinking of! These are the females of the genus Eupolyphaga, family Coridiidae (the cockroaches that are found in many urban living environments are of the family Carabidae). In China these insects are caught in the summer and reared throughout the year. They’re prepared for medicine a bit like lobsters, popped in a pot of boiling water then dried in the sun. These wingless cockroaches inhabit dark, damp places and are usually found in humus rich loose soil and (this has totally endeared me to these sweet insects) play dead when they think they’ve been detected!
They are salty and cold in nature and go to the Liver, Heart, and Spleen channels; they are also slightly toxic and thus should not be used during pregnancy. Chemically they contain 17 amino acids, several trace elements, alkaloids and glycerin ethers. A common pairing is to use them in conjunction with Shui zhi, or leaches (seriously, the stuff my childhood nightmares were made of). Together they are even stronger at breaking and moving blood to disperse masses and unblocking menstrual problems related to stasis.
While it might seem a little weird to use insects as medicine they are incredible at doing what they do, which is getting into and influencing the small spaces of our bodies, and their actions are so unique that it’s hard to find vegetative substitutes for them that act as powerfully. I have used a lot of insects both topically and internally and they are amazing to work with. I love getting to know them as herbs and hope you are excited about them too!! Check out our Eagle Claw Liniment here! It's our best selling liniment and an amazing training or conditioning aid for rock climbers, massage therapists, body workers, farmers, construction workers.....you get the point, right?!
1. Ground Beetles, Chinese Herbs Healing http://www.chineseherbshealing.com/ground-beetles/
3. Materia Medica, Bensky et al.
4. Materia Medica class, SIOM, Summer 2015