Ting Li Zi – Pepperweed Seed – Semen Descurainiae seu Lepidii

Ting Li Zi

English Name: descurainia seed, lepidium seed, pepperweed seed

Pharmaceutical Name: Semen Descurainiae seu Lepidii

Medica Category: Cough- and Wheezing- Relieving Herbs

Properties: Ting Li Zi enters the Lung and Urinary Bladder channels; it is acrid and bitter in nature and very cold in temperature.

What is Ting Li Zi?:

The Chinese Herb Ting Li Zi is the dried seeds of one of two species of plants/weeds in the Brassicaceae (mustard/cabbage) family:

  • Descurainia sophia (L.) Webb. Ex. Prantl.—known as Nan Ting Li and grows in Jiangsu, Anhui and Zhejiang provinces; and
  • Lepidium apetalum Willd.— known as Bei Ting Li and grows in Hebei and Liaoning provinces and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.


Considered invasive weeds in many contexts, these plants grow in disturbed areas and along roadsides. They produce little yellow flowerings in the spring and summer which are followed by seed pods. The seeds are harvested in late summer and dried for use as medicine. It can be used unprocessed but is often dry-fried (to increase its warmth and tone down its side effects).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Ting Li Zi:

Ting Li Zi eliminates phlegm in the Lung—both visible phlegm (i.e. sputum) as well as invisible phlegm (i.e. phlegm obstructions that cause chest congestion and feelings of oppression/stifling sensations). Resolving phlegm obstruction in the Lung relieves wheezing (with gurgling sounds in the throat) and cough. In the modern practice of TCM in China, this herb is used address pleurisy, water retention in the thoracic cavity, and congestive heart failure with edema and dyspnea.

Ting Li Zi resolves phlegm obstructions in the Lung that create qi stagnation. This Lung qi stagnation blocks the flow of water through the passages, and edema and dysuria can result.

–safety notes:

Contraindicated during pregnancy.

Ting Li Zi is very cold in nature and should only be used for excess conditions (i.e. phlegm accumulation/stagnation)) and not for deficiency conditions; also, it should be used with other qi-tonic herbs in formula for persons with constitutional weakness.