English: Catclaw buttercup roots

Chinese: 猫爪草

Parts used: Roots or tubers

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): PungentSweet

Organ affinity: Liver Lung

Scientific name: Ranunculus ternatus

Use of Mao Zhao Cao (catclaw buttercup roots) 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: Collect the roots or tubers in the spring, remove the fibrous roots and mud, then dry in the sun.

Dosage: 15-30g

Main actions according to TCM*: Dispels Phlegm and disperses nodules. Detoxifies and reduces swellings.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Mao Zhao Cao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Scrofula Subcutaneous node Pulmonary tuberculosis Malaria Snake bites Insect bites Lung cancer Lymphatic tuberculosis Laryngitis Hemorrhoids

Contraindications*: It can be used when lymphatic tuberculosis has not ulcerated, but it cannot be used after it has ulcerated, as this may turn into sores. This medicine is mainly used to treat scattered nodules and has a swelling-reducing effect. The elderly and children should not consume too much of it and the dosage should be reduced as appropriate."

Key TCM concepts behind Mao Zhao Cao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Mao Zhao Cao belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity' 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 relieve Toxicity treat the latter while, at the same time, removing infectious toxins from the body. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Mao Zhao Cao is Warm in nature. This means that Mao Zhao Cao tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Mao Zhao Cao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Mao Zhao Cao also tastes Pungent and Sweet. 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. Pungent ingredients like Mao Zhao Cao tends to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food. On the other hand Sweet ingredients tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Mao Zhao Cao is thought to target the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.