English: Chinese pink herbs

Chinese: 瞿麦

Parts used: Dried aerial part

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Bladder Heart Small intestine

Scientific name: Diathus superbus or Dianthus chinensis

Other names: Lilac pink herb

Use of Qu Mai (chinese pink herbs) 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, moisturize, cut into sections and dry

Dosage: 6 - 12 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Encourages urination and expels Damp-Heat. Dissolves Blood Stasis and assists blocked menstruation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Qu Mai may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Urinary difficulties Scanty urination Dark urine Blood in urine Urinary tract infection Amenorrhea

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by pregnant women nor by those with Deficiency of Qi of the Kidneys or Spleen.

Common TCM formulas in which Qu Mai is used*

Ba Zheng San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and Fire. Promotes urination. Unblocks painful urinary dribbling.

Conditions targeted*: GlomerulonephritisCystitis and others

Qu Mai is a king ingredient in Ba Zheng San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Ba Zheng San, Qu Mai bitter and cold. It enters the Blood to invigorate the Blood and is particularly useful in treating painful urinary dribbling with Blood. It also directs Heart Fire and Heat downward, unblocks the Small Intestine, expels Damp Heat from the Bladder, and is an important herb for treating dribbling disorders. 

Read more about Ba Zheng San

Shi Wei San

Source date: 1687 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears heat. Promotes the resolution of Dampness. Unblocks painful urinary dribbling. Expels stones.

Conditions targeted*: UrethritisCystitis and others

Read more about Shi Wei San

Key TCM concepts behind Qu Mai's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qu Mai belongs to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Dampness that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Dampness accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore Qu Mai is Cold in nature. This means that Qu Mai 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 Qu Mai can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Qu Mai 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 Qu Mai 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 Qu Mai is thought to target the Bladder, the Heart and the Small intestine. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. Like the Stomach, the Small Intestine has a digestive role, extracting the "pure" part of what we injest to the Spleen and the "impure" down to the Large Intestine.