English: Chinese holly leaves

Chinese: 功劳叶

Parts used: Leaves

TCM category: Herbs that clear Yin Deficiency Heat

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Lung

Scientific name: Mahoniae Folium

Other names: Chinese mahonia leaf, Shi Da Gong Lao Ye, Gou Gu Ye, Gou Gu Ci

Use of Gong Lao Ye (chinese holly 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: Collect leaves, remove impurities, clean, soak in water, slices and dry

Dosage: 6-9g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Heat. Nourishes Yin. Relieves cough and resolves Phlegm.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Gong Lao Ye may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Fever Pulmonary tuberculosis Cough Sore lower back Sore knees Weak back Weak knees Back pain Knee pain Dizziness Tinnitus Sores Boils Red eyes Hemoptysis

Key TCM concepts behind Gong Lao Ye's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Gong Lao Ye belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Yin Deficiency Heat' 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). As their name indicates herbs that clear Yin Deficiency Heat treat the former and as such tend to be Cold in nature.

As suggested by its category Gong Lao Ye is Cold in nature. This means that Gong Lao Ye typically helps people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Gong Lao Ye can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Gong Lao Ye 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 Gong Lao Ye 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 Gong Lao Ye is thought to target the Lung. 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.