Dwarf lilyturf roots

Chinese: 麦冬

Pinyin: Mài Dōng

Parts used: Dried root tuber

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachHeartLung

Scientific name: Ophiopogon japonicus

Other names: Mai Men Dong, Mondograss, Fountainplant, Monkeygrass, Japanese Turf Lily

Use of dwarf lilyturf roots (Mai Dong) 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 into sections and dry.

Dosage: 6 - 12 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Replenishes Yin Essence and promotes secretions. Lubricates and nourishes the Stomach. Soothes the Lung. Nourishes the Heart.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which dwarf lilyturf roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Dry cough Insomnia Dry mouth Constipation Diphtheria

Contraindications*: Not for those with weak Spleen and Stomach with Coldness and diarrhea.

Common TCM formulas in which dwarf lilyturf roots are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind dwarf lilyturf roots (Mai Dong)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dwarf lilyturf roots are plants that belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Yin tonics have a heavy, moist nature. They either nourish the Kidneys and Liver or moisten the Lungs and Stomach. Extreme Yin Deficiency often translates into a 'burn-out', unfortunately more and more common among people today. It is worth mentioning that another great remedy against Yin Deficiency is a lot of rest and sleep; no herb will ever be able to replace this!

Furthermore dwarf lilyturf roots are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that dwarf lilyturf roots tend to help people who have too much "heat" in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. 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 dwarf lilyturf roots can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Dwarf lilyturf roots also taste Bitter and Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like dwarf lilyturf roots tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing heat, drying dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. 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 dwarf lilyturf roots are thought to target the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. In addition to regulating blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Research on dwarf lilyturf roots(Mai Dong)

Ophiopogonis Radix can be used either as a healthy food or a therapeutic agent for disease prevention and treatment.1

An aqueous extract of Radix Ophiopogon japonicus (ROJ-ext) exerted significant antithrombotic activity and ruscogenin and ophiopogonin D are two of its active components, which supported its therapeutic use for thrombotic diseases.2


1. Chen MH, Chen XJ, Wang M, Lin LG, Wang YT. (2016). Ophiopogon japonicus--A phytochemical, ethnomedicinal and pharmacological review. J Ethnopharmacol. , 181:193-213. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.01.037. Epub 2016 Jan 27.

2. Junping Kou, Youqing Tian, Yunkit Tang, Jin Yan, Boyang Yu (2006). Antithrombotic Activities of Aqueous Extract from Radix Ophiopogon japonicus and Its Two Constituents. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 29(6): 1267-1270. DOI https://doi.org/10.1248/bpb.29.1267

Use of dwarf lilyturf roots (Mai Dong) as food

Dwarf lilyturf roots are also eaten as food.