English: Clematis roots

Chinese: 威灵仙

Parts used: Dried root and rhizome

TCM category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): PungentSalty

Organ affinity: Bladder

Scientific name: Clematis chinensis, Clematis hexapetala or Clematis manshurica

Use of Wei Ling Xian (clematis 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: Remove impurities, wash, cut and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 12 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves Wind-Damp, circulates Qi and alleviates pain. clears meridians and eases pain. Softens and releases fish bones lodged in the throat.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Wei Ling Xian may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Rheumatism Rheumatoid arthritis Fish bone stuck in the throat Muscle cramps Muscle contractions

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Deficiency of either Qi or Blood.

Common TCM formulas in which Wei Ling Xian is used*

Hai Tong Pi Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Invigorates the Blood. Disperses swelling. Dispels Wind, Dampness and Cold. Removes Stagnation and relieves pain.

Conditions targeted*: Trauma and others

Wei Ling Xian is a deputy ingredient in Hai Tong Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Hai Tong Pi Tang, Wei Ling Xian unblocks the Channels, invigorates the collaterals, dispel Dampness, and relieves pain. 

Erythrinae bark, Garden Balsam, Clematis root, Angelica root, Saposhnikovia root and Sichuan pepper shares similar functions. 

Read more about Hai Tong Pi Tang

Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang

Source date: 1587 AD

Number of ingredients: 16 herbs

Formula key actions: Expels Wind Damp from the Channels. Invigorates Blood. Unblocks the channels.

Conditions targeted*: ArthralgiaBell's palsy and others

Wei Ling Xian is an assistant ingredient in Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang, Wei Ling Xian relieves pain by invigorating Qi, unblocking the Channels and removing Wind Damp

Read more about Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Wei Ling Xian's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Wei Ling Xian belongs to the 'Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness' category. These herbs typically help treat what's called 'bi pain' (i.e. painful obstruction) in TCM. This roughly corresponds to arthritic and rheumatic conditions with pain, stiffness and numbness of the bones, joints and muscles.

Furthermore Wei Ling Xian is Warm in nature. This means that Wei Ling Xian 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 Wei Ling Xian can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Wei Ling Xian also tastes Pungent and Salty. 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 Wei Ling Xian 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 Salty ingredients tend to have a draining effect in the body because they clear accumulations, remove Phlegm and soften hard lumps.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Wei Ling Xian is thought to target the Bladder. 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.

Research on Wei Ling Xian

Clematis chinensis Osbeck root is effective in ameliorating joint destruction and cartilage erosion in MIA‐induced osteoarthritic in rats, and the mechanisms of action for protecting articular cartilage are through preventing extracellular matrix degradation and chondrocyte injury.1


1. W Wu, X Xu, Y Dai, L Xia (2010). Therapeutic effect of the saponin fraction from Clematis chinensis Osbeck roots on osteoarthritis induced by monosodium iodoacetate through protecting articular cartilage. Phytotherapy Research, Volume 24, Issue 4, Pages 538-546, https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2977