Turmeric as a Chinese Herb

Turmeric, which is also known as Yu Jin in Chinese herbology, has been widely used across the globe for the past 4,000 years. During that time, this herb has gained popularity as a medicinal herb as well as an herb that can be used in cooking. Many studies have been conducted—revealing that turmeric has the ability to alleviate a variety of symptoms and ailments.

From the Chinese perspective, Yu Jin falls into the blood-invigorator category, as it helps to internally regulate blood and can break up stasis.   This herb can also be applied topically for pain due to trauma and has the ability to increase the speed of the healing process of chronic sores.

When viewing this herb through the eyes of a Chinese herbologist, there are certain aspects that are important to note. The channels to which the herb travels, the taste and the temperature are critical pieces of information and will help lead an herbalist to either include or exclude it from a formula. With that being said, there are three main meridians that Yu Jin focuses on: the Heart, Lung and Liver. The two tastes associated with this herb are spicy and bitter, and the temperature quality of Yu Jin is cold.

There are four main functions of Yu Jin in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The first function of this herb is to help invigorate the blood, stop pain and promote the movement of Qi while resolving/alleviating constraint. The second function is to clear heat and cool the blood. The third function is to clear the Heart and open the orifices. And the fourth function is to benefit the Gallbladder and reduce jaundice.

Yu Jin can be used for a multitude of symptoms. Some of the conditions for which it’s indicated are anxiety, agitation, seizures, abdominal/flank/menstrual pain, nosebleeds, vomiting of blood, blood in the urine, gallbladder disorders and jaundice.

There is only one main caution and contra-indication for this herb, which is pregnancy. Using this herb is forbidden for women who are in any stage of pregnancy. It is also important to note that the herb Ding Xiang antagonizes Yu Jin and therefore the two should not be combined.

From an Eastern perspective, Yu Jin serves an important role as an herb that can be used both internally and externally for a variety of ailments. While the Traditional Chinese Medical view of this herb does differ slightly from the Western view, it shares a common stance in that it is extremely useful at clearing heat/inflammation. For this one role alone it should be considered essential for any herbal pharmacy.


Bensky, Dan. 2004. Chinese Herbal Medicine – MateriaMedica – 3rd Edition. Eastland Press, Seattle, USA.

Paul Kerzner, L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist and owner of Above & Beyond Acupuncture in Scottsdale, AZ. He graduated from the Arizona School of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine with a master’s degree in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine. For more information visit: www.aboveandbeyondacupuncture.com