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Earthworm (Di Long)

Close up of Earthworm (Di Long) also known Pheretima as TCM Herb on grey background

What is Earthworm (Di Long)?

Earthworm (di long, 地龙), whose latin name is lumbricus terrestris, is an animal that lives in almost any type of soil that contains the right amounts of moisture and organic particles. While the typical earthworm is no more than a few inches long, some species in Australia can reach a length of almost 11 feet. Most earthworms are reddish-brown in colour, but some earthworms appear green too.

Often used as a bait for fish, Earthworms are actually also served as food in many cultures. Some cultures even consider it to be a delicacy reserved for special guests and the elderly. In Australia and New Zealand, the Maori consider Earthworms to be a ceremonial food that was fed to their chiefs or as the last food for the dying. Amazonian tribes consider Earthworms as a delicacy prescribed for women in the first month following pregnancy to prevent anemia.

Earthworms have also been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurvedic Medicine, Traditional Arabic Medicine and Islamic Medicine for thousands of years to treat conditions such as acute fever. In China, the best Earthworms are said to come from Guangdong. Earthworms are caught, killed, eviscerated and dried for medicinal usage.

In TCM, Earthworms fall under the category of ‘Herbs that pacify Internal Liver-Wind and stop tremors’. Such herbs are used to treat hyperactive Liver yang. Cold in nature, the herb can help individuals who have too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a Yang Excess or a Yin Deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance.

Salty in taste, Earthworms have a draining effect on the body by clearing accumulations, removing phlegm and softening hard lumps. In particular, the herb targets the bladder, the Spleen and the Liver.

Functions and Benefits of Earthworm (Di Long)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Earthworms have the following health benefits.

Earthworms can clear Heat and extinguish Wind in the body. This herb can thus address manic-depressive psychosis and fright epilepsy caused by the generation of Wind by extreme Heat in epidemic Warm diseases, and relieve symptoms such as coma, spasms, convulsions, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and incoherent speech. 

Earthworms are also effective at unblocking collaterals. For sequelae of Wind stroke with symptoms such as hemiplegia, wry eye and mouth caused by qi deficiency, Blood Stasis, lack of nourishment in channels and obstruction of channels, Earthworms are often used with other qi-nourishing and blood-activating herbs. Also, Earthworms can relieve arthralgia, which are manifested as symptoms such as numbness in hands, red, swollen and painful joints, limited flexing of joints, as well as limited extending of joints. In addition, Earthworms can also relieve wheezing and dyspnea caused by Lung Heat and induce diuresis.

Earthworms also promote topical healing, such as acute parotitis, ulcers of the lower limbs, burns, boils and carbuncles.

Modern studies have found that Earthworms have very high levels of protein, iron and amino acids, which help to break down food and repair body tissues. Thus, Earthworms can help to improve digestion and promote healing. Earthworms may help to treat digestive tract infections such as dysentery, diarrhoea and other stomach disorders like ulcers. Earthworms can help to improve appetite too. As a good source of calcium, Earthworms can also help to boost bone health.

Some also believe that Earthworms have the ability to improve our heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels. This herb may also help to treat respiratory tract infections like cough, asthma, influenza, bronchitis and tuberculosis. In addition, this herb can increase endurance and reduce rheumatic body aches or aches caused by fatigue.

Close up of Earthworm (Di Long) on a wooden table
Earthworm (Di Long) is a Cold TCM herb that can help to relieve pain to stiff limbs.

How to Use Earthworm (Di Long)

Dried, powdered Earthworm can be found at some Asian markets and specialty stores. The herb is also available as part of some herbal formulas or supplements that can be found in herbal stores.

The recommended daily dosage of Earthworm is 4.5 – 12g when consumed as an oral decoction. Larger amounts up to 20g are used when fresh earthworms are used. In powdered form, the recommended consumption dosage for Earthworm is 1 – 2g.

Cautions and Side Effects of Earthworm (Di Long)

Earthworms should not be consumed by individuals experiencing shang han conditions, Warm pathogen diseases without high fever, and Spleen or stomach weakness and deficiencies. Also, pregnant ladies should use this herb with caution.

As Earthworms have a strong taste that is quite salty and fishy, it may cause nausea and even vomiting in some sensitive individuals. You can avoid this by consuming Earthworm in powdered form or consuming Earthworms with other citrus fruits or herbs to offset the taste.

Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to Earthworms.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Earthworms to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Earthworm (Di Long):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 地龙
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): dì lóng
  • Herb name (English): Earthworm
  • Herb name (Botanical): Pheretima
  • Origin of species: Pheretima aspergillum (E. Perrier); Pheretima vulgaris Chen; Pheretima guillelmi (Michaelsen); Pherentima oectinifera Michaelsen
  • Part(s) of herb used: Whole organism
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Shanghai
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Salty; Cold; Administrates the Liver, Spleen and Bladder Meridians
  • Actions: Relieves severe feverish conditions; Eases stroke-related symptoms, such as partial immobility; Provides pain relief to stiff or painful limbs; Promotes urination

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