Chinese Mugwort (Ai Ye)
What is Chinese Mugwort (Ai Ye)?
Chinese Mugwort (艾叶, ai ye), also known as Argy Wormwood Leaf, comes from a common weed in China. The plant is often found along hillsides, grassy areas and the margins of forests. It resembles a shrub, reaching a height of more than three feet, with small greenish yellow flowers and grayish green leaves. These leaves are gathered in the spring and summer, and dried in a shady place before being used medicinally.
In Guangdong, the tender young Argy Wormwood Leaves are eaten as a vegetable during Winter and Spring. Also, in South China, Ai Ye is mixed with glutinous rice flour and fillings such as peanut, sesame and white sugar to make glutinous rice cakes. During Dragon Boat Festival, people also hang Ai Ye on the door of their houses, as they believe that it can fend off evil from their homes for the year.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chinese Mugwort falls under the category of ‘Herbs that invigorate the blood’. Such herbs can promote the circulation of blood, especially for individuals with cardiovascular conditions, Blood Stagnation or menstrual irregularities.
Warm in nature, the herb can help individuals who have too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance. Bitter and pungent in taste, Chinese Mugwort can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination and bowel movements. Also, the herb can promote the circulation of qi and body fluids.
Functions and Benefits of Chinese Mugwort (Ai Ye)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Chinese Mugwort has the following health benefits.
Chinese Mugwort can warm your meridians and stop bleeding. By dispelling Cold, warming qi and blood, the herb is indicated for bleeding symptoms, such as nosebleed, metrorrhagia and metrostaxis.
Also, by dispelling Cold and Dampness, the herb can alleviate pain caused by Cold, such as foot pain, period cramps, abdominal pain, and regulate menstruation. Chinese Mugwort is thus often used to treat gynecological diseases and infertility caused by Cold. By eliminating Dampness, the herb can also be decocted or applied externally as a wash for skin problems such as itching.
Chinese Mugwort can also calm a restless fetus and warm the uterus to help prevent miscarriage. In Zhou Hou Fang (A Hand Book of Prescriptions for Emergencies), the herb is decocted in wine to treat the risk of miscarriage caused by Cold in the Liver or Kidneys. In addition, Chinese Mugwort can resolve phlegm and relieve asthma and cough. When used as an extracted oil, it can relieve wheezing and coughing with profuse sputum.
Other than the above benefits, Chinese Mugwort can be used via moxibustion for tonification and to treat qi stagnation. Made into a moxa stick, moxa cone or used on top of an acupuncture needle, Chinese Mugwort can fumigate body acupoints to warm qi and blood, penetrate meridians, and treat various pain symptoms caused by Yang Deficiency, external Cold or Damp pathogens, or exuberant Cold.
Modern research has suggested that Chinese Mugwort may be able to treat gastrointestinal disorders by improving digestion and increasing appetite. A study showed that the bitter compounds in Chinese Mugwort can stimulate gastric juices and bile, improve blood flow in the digestive system and expel parasitic organisms from the digestive system.
Chinese Mugwort may also be beneficial for treating inflammatory conditions, such as inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease. The herb is also suggested to be effective for treating immune disorders, tuberculosis, intracellular viruses and bacterial infections.
Another review indicated that Chinese Mugwort may possess antidepressant effects and the ability to increase serotonin levels. It may benefit individuals who are suffering from neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
Other research has suggested that Chinese Mugwort may be beneficial for regulating blood sugar levels and insulin levels. The herb may also help to prevent the accumulation of lipids in the blood and reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes or hyperlipidemia.
How to Use Chinese Mugwort (Ai Ye)
The recommended daily dosage of Chinese Mugwort is 3-10g. The herb can be taken orally or used externally.
To be consumed, Chinese Mugwort can be boiled in water and used as a decoction, often mixed with other ingredients. Fresh Chinese Mugwort can also be crushed and blended to form juice. Chinese Mugwort is also available in other forms such as tea, powder, pills and extracts.
Dried Chinese Mugwort is also often available in cones or sticks for moxibustion. Moxa sticks are widely available in herbal stores and acupuncture suppliers. Alternatively, you may find the leaves in Asian markets and specialty stores.
Cautions and Side Effects of Chinese Mugwort (Ai Ye)
Chinese Mugwort should not be used by individuals who are experiencing excess Heat in the blood, Yin Deficiency, or pregnancy.
For external usage, it is important to note that Chinese Mugwort may cause allergic reactions in individuals with sensitive skin as its volatile oils mildly stimulate skin, which may lead to fever or flush. Also, using Chinese Mugwort for an extended period of time may inhibit nerves, impair the Liver, nervous centralis or blood vessels.
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Chinese Mugwort to your healthcare routine!
Here is a summary for Chinese Mugwort (Ai Ye):
- Herb name (Chinese): 艾叶
- Herb name (Pin Yin): ài yè
- Herb name (English): Argy Wormwood Leaf
- Herb name (Botanical): Folium Artemisiae Argyi
- Origin of species: Artemisia argyi Lévl. et vant.
- Part(s) of herb used: Leaf
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Most parts of China- Hubei, Shandong, Anhui or Hebei etc
- Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, bitter; Warm; Administrates the Liver, Spleen and Kidney Meridians
- Actions: Improves body circulation to relieve pains; Helps in regulation of menstrual cycle; Helps to dispel Cold
Cui, Y., Zhao, B., Huang, Y., Chen, Z., Liu, P., Huang, J., & Lao, L. (2013). Effects of moxa (Folium Artemisiae argyi) smoke exposure on heart rate and heart rate variability in healthy young adults: a randomized, controlled human study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013. [Accessed on 7th December 2022]
Han, B., Xin, Z., Ma, S., Liu, W., Zhang, B., Ran, L., … & Ren, D. (2017). Comprehensive characterization and identification of antioxidants in Folium Artemisiae Argyi using high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography B, 1063, 84-92.[Accessed on 7th December 2022]
Song, X., Wen, X., He, J., Zhao, H., Li, S., & Wang, M. (2019). Phytochemical components and biological activities of Artemisia argyi. Journal of Functional Foods, 52, 648-662.[Accessed on 7th December 2022]
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