Another Herb Story – Why Cnidium Monnieri is called snake-bed seed in Chinese?

February 8, 2010 Trisha Han Oriental Herbal Medicine

Cnidium Monieri is an herb that is effective for the following problems: chronic tinea and scabies; eczema involving scrotum; Itchy genitals in women; Impotence.

However, few western people know that this herb is called snake-bed seed in Chinese. Here is the story why.

There was a village where an unidentifiable disease was rampant. Patients with this disease had goose bumps and terrible itching all over their bodies. Even when they scratched till they bled, the itch could not be stopped.

All the villagers were afflicted with that disease. No matter what medicine they took or what salve they applied, they could not get rid of it.  “If we stew some medicinal seeds and drink the broth, the itch will be cured, but the herbs grow on a small isle 100 miles away from the village. ”  “The herbs have leaves shaped like feathers and flowers in the shape of umbrellas, but there are venomous snakes all over the isle. It is extremely dangerous. ”

There was a young man who, carrying some food, rowed off in a boat toward the isle, but for the longest time never returned.  Other young people one after another went to collect the herbs, but they all got lost.  “No matter what, I have to get back the herbs. ”   “What if you get bitten by the snakes ” .  “I will work out a way to drive away the snakes. Don’t worry. ”

The young man came to a big mountain by the sea, where there was a nunnery in which lived a 100-year-old nun.   This old nun had gone to the snake isle to collect the herbs when she was young. “As frightening as venomous snakes may be, it is not as if there is no way to deal with them. At noon, on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, bring xiong-huang wine to the isle. ”

“Upon seeing the snakes, splash the wine on them. The venomous snakes are afraid of that odor, and they will naturally run away. ”  The young man thanked the old nun and went to the isle with xiong-huang wine.  Whenever he saw snakes, he splashed them with xiong-huang wine while he marched forward. Smelling the aroma of the wine, the snakes curled into a coil and became motionless. The young man made use of the chance to dig out the herbs lying under the snakes.  Thus the young man brought back the herbal medicine to cure the skin disease.

After the patients bathed in the herbal broth several times, their skin infirmity gradually healed.  Therefore, people started planting this kind of medicinal plant to remedy rashes and eczema.   The villagers heard that above the herbs were all coiled venomous snakes, so they called this herb “snake bed, ” and its seeds were called “snake bed seeds. ”

Trisha Han – Mother Nature’s Acupuncture of Austin


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