Agrimony, scientifically known as Agrimonia eupatoria and also known as Xianhecao or Red-Crowned Crane's Herb, is a perennial herb widely used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for its versatile therapeutic properties. Its various medicinal benefits range from stopping bleeding to killing parasites. This article provides a comprehensive overview of agrimony's characteristics, therapeutic principles, and its significance in TCM, along with a fascinating legend about the herb's discovery.
The Legend of Agrimony (Xianhecao)
Agrimony's name in Chinese, Xianhecao, or Red-Crowned Crane's Herb, is associated with an ancient legend. The story begins with two Chinese officials traveling to Beijing to take a national examination for promotion. Time was running out, so they hastened their journey and found themselves stranded in a vast desert with no water, food, or shelter in sight.
One of the officials suddenly experienced a nosebleed that wouldn't stop. In desperation, his companion used a sheet of paper to try to halt the bleeding, but it was in vain. Just when they were about to give up hope, a red-crowned crane flew past them, and one of the officials asked the bird for help. In response, the crane dropped a blade of grass from its beak.
The official with the nosebleed placed the grass in his mouth, and miraculously, the bleeding stopped. They attributed their salvation to the bird's magical grass. Eventually, both officials made it to the examination hall in time, passed the exam, and received promotions.
Intrigued by the miraculous grass, the officials searched for years before finally finding the herb growing on hillsides. Since it had no known name, they named it Xianhecao in honor of the red-crowned crane that saved them.
Therapeutic Principles and Properties
Agrimony belongs to the 'Regulate the Blood' chapter in TCM's materia medica, where it is primarily used to stop bleeding. Its properties are neutral, bitter, and astringent, and it influences the lung, liver, and spleen channels. Key treatment principles include stopping bleeding, alleviating diarrhea, stopping dysenteric disorders, and killing parasites.
Scientific studies have supported the herb's legendary properties, revealing that agrimony can increase and protect blood platelets, effectively acting as a coagulant and hemostatic agent to arrest bleeding.
Agrimony, or Xianhecao, is a versatile and therapeutic herb in traditional Chinese medicine with a rich history rooted in a captivating legend. Its wide range of medicinal benefits, including its ability to stop bleeding, have been supported by scientific research. Incorporating agrimony into a holistic healing approach can provide numerous health benefits and contribute to overall well-being, while its legendary origins remind us of the fascinating connections between nature, history, and human resilience.