Herbs & Botanicals
Ark Shell (wa leng zi)
What is ark shell? What is it used for?
The ark shell comes from a marine bivalve animal, arca granosa L., which is related to the clam, and is found predominantly along the coasts of Europe and the eastern part of the United States. Unlike most bivalves, the animal's blood and tissues contain hemoglobin, which give it a reddish appearance and has earned it the nickname of "sea ham."
The animal's shell is small and heart-shaped, with straight-lined striations that give the shell a ruffled, or ridged, appearance. The shells can vary in color from white to yellowish-white to gray, depending on the environment in which the animal lives. The shells are prepared by cleaning and boiling them, then grounding the shells into a fine powder for use in herbal remedies.
In traditional Chinese medicine, ark shell is considered sweet and salty in taste, and mild in nature. It is associated with the Lung, Stomach, Liver and Spleen meridians. Its functions are to remove blood stasis, eliminate phlegm, and soften hard masses. Ark shell has been used to treat conditions such as scrofula, abdominal pain and distension, and acid reflux disease.
How much ark shell should I take?
Ark shell is often used as a decoction; the recommended dose varies between 9 and 30 grams of crushed ark shell, decocted in water for oral administration. Some practitioners may also recommend ark shell powder, which can be taken in doses of 3 to 6 grams, two to three times daily.
What forms of ark shell are available?
Ark shells can be purchased at some Asian markets and specialty stores. Some herbal shops sell ark shell powders, which are available as tablets, pills and capsules.
What can happen if I take too much ark shell? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
Raw ark shell should be used to treat nodules and abdominal masses, while baked ark shell should be used to treat acidic conditions and pain. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions or side-effects associated with ark shell. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking ark shell or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.