Allergic-Causing Chinese Herbs

This article made me remember that herbs are food and how vital it is to know what a person’s eating if they have food allergies. An allergy is the inordinate self-defensive reaction of the body over a specific foreign substance. Through our interaction with the world around us, we can be potentially exposed to allergy-inducing objects: by the contact of allergens with mucus membranes and the skin, by ingesting foods, and by breathing. Light to moderate allergic reaction may result in the symptoms of wheezing, shortness of breath, swallowing difficulty, throat, tongue, and/or lip swelling; as hives, eczema, redness of the skin, itchy throat and mouth; runny nose or nasal congestion, eye irritation, or a runny nose. Extreme allergic reactions may involve obstructive swelling of the throat, tongue, and/or lips. Some allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis are emergency-level and immediate and are potentially life-threatening and serious that requires prompt treatment.

Important classification of food allergies include wheat, soybeans, tree nuts, peanuts, crustacean shellfish, fish, eggs, and milk. Collectively, they account for almost all (more than 90 percent) of food allergies, according to the FDA or Food and Drug Administration. Moreover, CDC or the Centers for Disease Control stated that food allergies affect 4 percent of adults and four to six percent of children.

The following is a list of Chinese herbs based on allergen classification:

Chinese Herbs That Are Shellfish Mollusk:
• Concha Margaritiferae
• Margarita
• Concha ostreae
• Ge Chiao (Concha Meretricis seu Cyclinae)
• Hai Piao Hsiao (Endoconcha Sepiae)
• Mu Li
• Shi Chue Ming (Concha Ostreae)
• Zhen Shu (Margarita)
• Zhen Shu Mu

Tree Nuts and Peanuts

A peanut is not a tree nut cut is a legume (same family as lentils, peas, and soybeans). Tree nuts have their own come in many shapes and sizes. Though delicious, tree nuts may also be linked to anaphylaxis. Tree nut allergies often last a lifetime, and the chances of outgrowing tree nut allergies is less than 10 percent. Tree nuts associated with high risk of food allergy including: beech nuts, almonds, butternuts, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, coconut, chinquapins, gingko nuts, hazelnuts, lichee nuts, hickory nuts, , pecans, macadamia nuts, pili nuts, pine nuts, walnuts., pistachios, and shea nuts

Tree nuts and Chinese herbs that are known to be high risk allergy triggers include lichee nuts and ginkgo nuts. Chinese herbs that are poorly associated with risk of tree nut allergies include bitter apricot seeds, Chinese dwarf cherry seeds,, Chinese arborvitae seed and peach seeds.

Tree Nut –Containing Chinese Herbs with High Risk of Allergy:
• Semen Ginkgo (Bai Guo)
• Wheat
• Semen Litchi (Lishi He)

Tree Nuts that are Chinese Herbs with low risk of allergy

• Semen Armeniacae Amarum (Ku hsing Re)
• Semen Platycladi (Bai shi ren)
• Semen Pruni (Yu Li Ren)
• Massa Fermenta (Shen Chiu)
• Semen Persicae (Tao Ren)


Gluten is found in rye protein, barley and wheat and is a protein. Gluten hypersensitivity may lead to the following signs and symptoms:

• Celiac disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged
• Fatigue
• Stomach pain
• Constipation
• Diarrhea

Gluten-containing Chinese Herbs:

• Fructi Triticus Levis (Fu Hsiao Mai)
• Rhizoma Pinellia Massae Fermentata (Ban Chia Chiu)
• Maltosum (Yi Tang)
• Fructus Triticus (Hsiao Mai)
• Massae Fermentata (Shen Chiu)
• Fructus Hordei Germinati (Mai Ya)


Allergies to wheat occur when the immune system of the body overreacts and becomes sensitized to wheat protein. Sevberal parts of the body, including the skin may develop allergic reactions (i.e., eczema or rash), lung (i.e., asthma), and nose (i.e., runny nose, stuffy nose,). Certain Chinese herbs or are made from wheat.

Chinese Herbs containing Wheat derivatives or wheat or:

• Maltosum (Yi Tang)
• Fructus Triticus (Hsiao Mai)
• Massae Fermentata (Shen Chiu)
• Fructi Triticus Levis (Fu Hsiao Mai)
• Rhizoma Pinellia Massae Fermentata (Ban Chia Chiu)
• Fructi Triticus Levis (Fu Hsiao Mai)

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The Different Classifications of Chinese Herbs

Chinese herbology or Chinese herbal medicine is a means of therapy that has been practiced for thousands of years. This procedure has been used to address a wide range of diseases over the years. Most of the Chinese herbs that are used today have been tested over time and are derived from various fruits, roots, and plants. These days, modern science is borrowing a lot from these herbs to create new drugs for many health conditions that they had no answer to before.

Five Tastes

The herbs under this classification are further categorized according to taste. They include salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and pungent. Sweet herbs are utilized to bring about harmony in the body while bitter herbs aid in the elimination of excessive body heat. Pungent herbs are known to raise vitality by boosting metabolism. Each specific taste influences a specific bodily function and therefore can stimulate a unique healing effect on the body.

Four Natural

Chinese herbs have four natural classifications. They include hot, warm, cool, and cold. Under this classification, the herbs are designed to bring back natural temperature in the body by modifying internal temperature. The four natural classifications are further classified as ‘yin’ (cold) and ‘yang’ (hot). For example a person with colds, will be treated with herbs that have yang (warming) properties.


The energy channel of the herb is associated with the organ system of the body that the herb is designed to affect. Some herbs are used to target the blood vessels, some the kidneys, lungs, heart, etc. A practitioner will use an herbal formula that specifically targets an affected organ system.

Herbal practitioners strive to utilize the various classifications to optimally treat the patient. They may either use the herbs that have the appropriate meridian, nature, and taste or mix the herbs together to address the specific needs of the patient. Chinese medicine still uses various ancient Chinese herbs that are now borrowed heavily and oftentimes synthesized by modern Western medicine. Listed below are some of these ancient Chinese herbs:

1. Cinnamon – In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), cinnamon is called ‘gui shi.’ It is an herb that helps add warmth in the body and thus is classified as a yang herb. Cinnamon also affects the blood system and is believed to help resolve many blood related conditions. It also treats allergies conditions basically associated with the circulatory system.

2. Mushrooms – Mushrooms have wide medicinal applications and is used in many communities all over the world. Western modern medicine has discovered that mushrooms possess immunity boosting qualities and is presently used in the creation of various new drugs.

3. Ginseng – Having been used for millennia, ginseng is classified as sweet and is utilized to significantly raise the energy of people who have been weakened by illness. This herb has an active ingredient known as ginsenosides that is known to help alleviate stress. There are different species of Ginseng. The Red Panax Ginseng is quite common while wild Ginseng is quite rare and a bit expensive. They all are used to address many types of illnesses including hot flashes, sweating problems, fever, and constipation.

Dr. Vickery is a licensed acupuncturist in Tarzana, CA., and the founder and clinical director of Vickery Health and Wellness.