Go to page content

Thinleaf Milkwort Root

Thinleaf Milkwort

What is Thinleaf Milkwort Root?

Thinleaf Milkwort Root (yuan zhi, 远志), also known as Radix Polygalae, refers to the dry root of Polygala tenuifolia Willd., P. sibirica L., which belongs to the Polygalaceae family. This plant is often found in China provinces such as Shanxi and Jilin.

Usually collected in spring or autumn, soil is removed from the root, and the root is later dried under the sun for medicinal usage. Thinleaf Milkwort Root can be used unprocessed or stir-baked with liquid. Apart from being used medicinally, Thinleaf Milkwort Root is also eaten as food.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Thinleaf Milkwort Root falls under the category of ‘Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit’. Such herbs can tranquillise one’s mind and treat symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, anxiety and insomnia.

Warm in nature, Thinleaf Milkwort Root can help individuals with too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a yang deficiency or a yin excess, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance. 

Bitter and sweet in taste, Thinleaf Milkwort Root can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, Thinleaf Milkwort Root can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Thinleaf Milkwort Root targets the Heart, the Kidneys and the Lungs.

Functions and Benefits of Thinleaf Milkwort Root

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Thinleaf Milkwort Root has the following health benefits.

Thinleaf Milkwort Root can calm one’s Heart and induce tranquillisation. This herb can thus treat symptoms such as insomnia, palpitations with anxiety, restlessness and disorientation. It is most effective in the treatment of excessive brooding and pent-up emotions. Also, Thinleaf Milkwort Root can clear the channel joining the Heart and Kidneys, which restore normal coordination between the two organs, improving one’s memory and reinforcing one’s will.

With the ability to resolve Phlegm and induce resuscitation, Thinleaf Milkwort Root can be indicated for epilepsy, convulsions and psychosis caused by obstruction of Phlegm in the Heart. Thinleaf Milkwort Root can be combined with Phlegm-resolving, Wind-extinguishing and spasm-stopping herbs to enhance its effectiveness in treating the above symptoms.

Other than the ability to resolve Phlegm, Thinleaf Milkwort Root can also stop coughing, especially cough with profuse Phlegm, thick Phlegm and difficulty in expectorating. In addition, Thinleaf Milkwort Root can dissipate swollen abscess and swelling. By relieving obstruction of qi and blood, Thinleaf Milkwort Root is indicated for all kinds of abscess, deep-rooted carbuncles and swollen sores.

How to Use Thinleaf Milkwort Root

The recommended daily dosage of Sweetgum Fruit is 3 – 9g, when used as a decoction. Apart from being consumed orally, Thinleaf Milkwort Root can be used for external application too. Thinleaf Milkwort Root can be used singly in powder with yellow wine or ground with yellow wine after being steamed. For external application, do consult your healthcare provider on the recommended dosage for your condition.

Thinleaf Milkwort Root and its supplements can be found in herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Thinleaf Milkwort Root

Thinleaf Milkwort Root should not be used by individuals experiencing yin-deficiency with Heat signs, hot Phlegm, ulcers or gastritis. Also, pregnant individuals should use Thinleaf Milkwort Root with caution, and should not use this herb in large doses.

Thinleaf Milkwort Root should not be used together with Pearl (Zhen Zhu) or Veratrum Root and Rhizome (Li Lu). Also, the herb should not be used together with diuretics such as chlorothiazide.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Thinleaf Milkwort Root to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Thinleaf Milkwort Root:

  • Herb name (Chinese): 远志
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): yuǎn zhì
  • Herb name (English): Thinleaf Milkwort Root
  • Herb name (Botanical): Radix Polygalae
  • Origin of species: Polygala tenuifolia Willd.; Polygala sibirica L.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Root
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Shanxi, Shaanxi, Jilin, Henan, Hebei
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Bitter, pungent; Warm; Administrates the Heart, Kidney and Lung Meridians
  • Actions: Calms the mind to promote quality of sleep; Eases throat discomfort and coughs with excessive oral discharge; Relieves swollen or tender breasts; Eases inflammatory conditions such as sores or carbuncles; Relieves symptoms of spasms

The contents of the All Things Health website are for informational and educational purposes only.
Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.