The aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg are often telling of the Holiday Season. We often hear, “Hmmm… smells like Christmas.” The aromas of the holidays are even nicer on a cold and wintery night next to the crackling fireplace.

Did you know that several of these holiday spices are also used in Chinese herbal formulas to treat illnesses? Below are six commonly used Chinese herbs that are also popular Holiday spices.


1. Cinnamon

  • Chinese Name: Guì Zhī 桂枝
  • Properties: Acrid, Sweet, Warm
  • Channels Entered: Heart, Lung, Bladder
  • Harmonizes the defensive and nutritive qi
  • Warms the channels and collaterals
  • Unblocks the yang qi of the chest
  • Promotes blood circulation
Cinnamon is widely used in traditional Chinese herbal formulas to treat the common cold, warm up the body, clear up phlegm and relieve pain. It is a major medicinal to use when a person has contracted an “external wind cold” or when there is pathology as the body’s surface. It is also commonly used in formulas that can improve blood circulation and treat painful obstructive disorders.
2. Cloves
  • Chinese Name: Dīng Xiāng 丁香
  • Properties: Acrid, Warm
  • Channels Entered: Kidney, Spleen, Stomach
  • Warms the middle burner, relieves pain and descends qi
  • Warms the kidneys and assists yang
Cloves are used to warm the stomach and are often used to alleviate abdominal pain. They also are used to relax and settle the stomach in order to alleviate nausea.

3. Ginger

  • Chinese Name: Shēng Jiāng 生薑
  • Properties: Acrid, Slightly Warm
  • Channels Entered: Lung, Spleen, Stomach
  • Release the exterior and warms the middle burner
  • Disperses lung cold and stops cough
  • Harmonize the Defensive and Nutritive Qi
  • Reduce toxicity and seafood poisoning
Ginger can be used either fresh to promote sweating and warm up the body or dried to warm up the stomach and lungs. It used in many herbal formulas because it works well with some other herbs to improve the digestion in order to improve the assimilation of the herbal medicine being taken. Ginger is also commonly used to prevent and treat nausea.

4. Mint

  • Chinese Name: Bò He 薄荷
  • Properties: Acrid, Aromatic, Cool
  • Channels Entered: Lung, Liver
  • Disperses wind-heat, cools and clears the head and eyes and benefits the
  • throat
  • Vents rashes
  • Relieves stagnation
Mint is an herb that can help sooth a sore throat. It is also used to improve digestion and relax the stomach when it is congested, sluggish and irritated. Mint is also used to promote the circulation of qi in the interior of the body in order to treat symptoms of stagnation.

5. Nutmeg

  • Chinese Name: Ròu Dòu Kòu 肉豆蔻
  • Properties: Acrid, Warm
  • Channels Entered: Large Intestine, Spleen, Stomach
  • Astringes the intestines and stops diarrhea
  • Warms the middle burner, regulates qi and alleviates pain

cold feeling in the abdomen, pain, discomfort, indigestion and bloating.
6. Orange Peel

  • Chinese Name: Chén Pí 陳皮
  • Properties: Acrid, Bitter, Warm
  • Channels Entered: Lung, Spleen
  • Regulates qi and harmonizes the middle burner
  • Dries dampness and dissolves phlegm
  • Dissolves phlegm and stops cough
  • Descends qi