English: Alfalfa leaves

Chinese: 苜蓿

Parts used: Dried aerial parts

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Spleen Stomach Kidney

Scientific name: Medicago sativa

Other names: Lucerne or Clover

Use of Mu Xu (alfalfa leaves) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, soak in water, cut and dry.

Dosage: 10-15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears stomach and spleen, expels dampness and heat, facilitates urination and reduces swelling.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Mu Xu may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Edema Urinary stones bladder stones strangury

Key TCM concepts behind Mu Xu's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Mu Xu belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness treat the latter while, at the same time, relieving the body of excess Dampness. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Mu Xu is Neutral in nature. This means that Mu Xu typically doesn't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of Mu Xu means that you don't have to worry about that!

Mu Xu also tastes Bitter. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like Mu Xu tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Mu Xu is thought to target the Spleen, the Stomach and the Kidney. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body.

Research on Mu Xu

M. sativa seems to hold great potential for in-depth investigation for various biological activities, especially their effects on central nervous and cardiovascular system.1


1. Kundan Singh Bora & Anupam Sharma (2011) Phytochemical and pharmacological potential of Medicago sativa: A review, Pharmaceutical Biology, 49:2, 211-220, DOI: 10.3109/13880209.2010.504732

Use of Mu Xu as food

Mu Xu is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Broccoli and alfalfa sprouts wrap.