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Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye)

Close up of Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye)

What is Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye)?

Isatis Tinctoria (da qing ye, 大青叶), also known as Dyers Woad Leaf, Isatis leaf, Indigowoad Lead or Folium Isatidis, refers to the leaf blade of the biennial herbaceous plant Isatis indigotica Fort, which belongs to the Cruciferae family. Native to China, this plant is now distributed in provinces such as Hebei, Jiangsu, Anhui and Shanxi. Other than medicinal usages, its leaves can also be made into blue dyes.

Every summer and autumn, people gather the leaves of Isatis Indigotica, wash them with water, chop them, and dry them under the sun for medicinal usage.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Isatis Tinctoria falls under the category of ‘Herbs that clear Heat and relieve toxicity’. Such herbs are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as Internal Heat in TCM. Cold in nature, Isatis Tinctoria can help individuals with too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a Yang Excess or a Yin Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance.

Bitter in taste, Isatis Tinctoria can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. In particular, Isatis Tinctoria targets the Heart,  the Lungs and the stomach.

Functions and Benefits of Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye) has the following health benefits.

Isatis Tinctoria can clear Heat and Cool blood. In particular, Isatis Tinctoria can clear Heat and purge Fire when entering the qi system, and Cool Blood and remove macula when entering the blood system. Thus, Isatis Tinctoria is often indicated for warm diseases and external contraction of Wind-Heat. For external contraction of Wind-Heat manifested as fever, headache, thirst and sore throat, Isatis Tinctoria can be combined with other Wind-Heat-dispersing herbs to enhance its effectiveness. For high fever, coma, macula and papules caused by Heat entering blood or qi, Isatis Tinctoria can be combined with other Heat-clearing and blood-cooling herbs to clear Heat from both qi and blood systems. Other symptoms that Isatis Tinctoria can relieve include nosebleed, pneumonia and convulsions.

Isatis Tinctoria is also effective in clearing Heat-toxicity in the blood system. Thus, Isatis Tinctoria can alleviate sore throat, cure abscess and dissipate nodulation. For example, this herb can help to treat mouth ulcers, skin eruptions and erysipelas. In addition, Isatis Tinctoria is indicated for bleeding syndromes caused by blood Heat. The herb is also used to treat cough caused by Lung Heat, jaundice caused by Liver Heat, and diarrhoea and dysentery caused by stomach Heat.

Close up of Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye)
Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye) can help to relieve bleeding symptoms.

How to Use Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye)

The recommended daily dosage of Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye) is 10 – 15g, when used as a decoction. For topical application, do consult a healthcare provider on the appropriate amount of the herb to be applied to the desired area.

Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye) and its supplements, such as pills and powder, can be found in many herbal stores and Asian specialty stores.

Cautions and Side Effects of Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye)

Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye) should not be used by individuals experiencing Spleen and stomach Deficiency-Cold, or those not experiencing Heat signs. 

Also, patients who are allergic to sulfonylureas such as tolbutamide and glyburide may also be allergic to Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye).

Over-consumption of Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye) may cause side effects such as abdominal pain and diarrhoea. 

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye) to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Isatis Tinctoria (Da Qing Ye):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 大青叶
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): dà qīng yè
  • Herb name (English): Dyers Woad Leaf
  • Herb name (Botanical): Isatis indigotica Fort.
  • Origin of species: Leaf
  • Part(s) of herb used: Jiangsu, Anhui, Hebei, Zhejiang
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangdong, Hainan, Shandong, Fujian, Liaoning
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Bitter; Cold; Administrates the Stomach and Heart Meridians
  • Actions: Relieves bleeding symptoms; Eases severe sore discomfort and mumps-related symptoms

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