Jun 2015

Boost Your Natural Healing Power with Settling Hwangchil

By Ilchi Lee Comment

Throughout my adult life, I've been studying how to increase our bodies' natural healing power on our own through practices such as meditation, training, or breathing—in other words, how to be a Solar Body. Recently, however, I've also turned to the plant world. For example, I've studied kawakawa in New Zealand and sage in the U.S. About three years ago, I met someone on Jeju Island, off the southern coast of South Korea, who had studied hwangchil for 35 years. After hearing about its long history as a medicinal herb, I began my own exploration of it. I'd like to share its amazing properties. 

The healing effects of hwangchil were recorded as far back as 259 BC. Hwangchil can only grow within very narrow environmental conditions, so it's only found in a few places, making it rare and valuable. Kings and emperors throughout history coveted it not only for its medicinal properties, but for the golden lacquer made from its sap. 

Hwangchil's scientific name is Dendropanax morbifera. Panax means "all heal" in Greek; it shares the same origin as panacea. Ginseng is Panax ginseng, and the appearance and fragrance of the roots are similar to hwangchil. However, hwangchil's effects are quite different. While ginseng and wild ginseng are revitalizing and fill up your energy levels, hwangchil balances nutrients and energy that are imbalanced or in excess.  

According to Five Element Theory in Asian Medicine, hwangchil has metal, earth, and water properties. Its metal and earth constitution is especially very high. Consequently, hwangchil acts on the metal-family organs, such as the lungs and large intestines; earth-family organs, such as the spleen and stomach; and water-family organs, such as the kidneys and bladder. It purges these organs of excess energy and calms their overactive functions. 

Metal and water are yin elements, and in the case of hwangchil, its metal, earth, and water elements are "negative," making them even more yin. It doesn't have any yang aspects to it, in fact. Based on this theory, then, hwangchil benefits those who have too much yang or yang symptoms. Being very yin, hwangchil is "cool" and has contracting, settling, collecting, or astricting energy.

I've given hwangchil to students around me, and they've experienced a variety of outcomes such as relief from gum disease, chronic migraines, and chronic constipation. Its settling properties also have mental and emotional effects. I recommend it to enhance your meditation. It can calm you if you're stressed, and its relaxing properties can bring you into a deeper meditative state. Your worries really disappear and even brain chatter stops. Your mind returns to the zero point. 

It does this because it collects excess energy from your head into the energy center in your lower abdomen, making the ideal Water Up, Fire Down energy condition. Your natural healing power is enhanced as a result; for example, things like insomnia go away. Even its fragrance, which is dominated by benzoin resin, puts the mind at ease and purifies various kinds of bad energy.

Furthermore, it has been confirmed that hwangchil is not addictive. In fact, it's not harmful at all, even if you take it regularly for prolonged periods of time. 
Hwangchil's leaves and stems, which break easily, can be dried or used fresh. You can boil them and use them in tea or a lot of other dishes. You can also ingest the extract from the sap, either in water or directly under the tongue.

What are your favorite plants for enhancing your natural healing power?