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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

Organ affinity: Stomach Heart Lung

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 (Mai Dong) are used*

Mai Men Dong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Stomach. Generates Body Fluids. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Conditions targeted*: Lung atrophyLaryngitis and others

Mai Dong is a king ingredient in Mai Men Dong Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Mai Men Dong Tang, Mai Dong clears Heat caused due to Stomach Deficiency and generates Body Fluids in the Stomach and Lungs. It is very useful in treating Lung atrophy. Together with Ginseng it is an especially powerful combination to rise the Qi and Yin in the Lungs and Stomach.

Read more about Mai Men Dong Tang

Yi Wei Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Strengthen the Stomach. Creates Body Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic gastritisDiabetes and others

Mai Dong is a king ingredient in Yi Wei Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Yi Wei Tang, Mai Dong is sweet, cooling and moistening. It is used both for Yin Deficiency and internal Heat.

Read more about Yi Wei Tang

Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Source date: 1573 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Lung and Kidney Yin. Lubricates the Lung and clears phlegm.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic bronchitisChronic pharyngitis and others

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Bai He Gu Jin Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Bai He Gu Jin Tang, Mai Dong is an important herb for tonifying the Yin, especially that of the Upper Burner. It also assist Lily bulb (Bai He) and the other two key herbs with their actions on the Lungs.

Read more about Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Zeng Ye Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Yin and Essence. Lubricates Dryness.

Conditions targeted*: ConstipationIrritable bowel syndrome and others

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Zeng Ye Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Zeng Ye Tang, Mai Dong assists in enriching and moistening the Yin, especially of the Stomach and Intestines.

Read more about Zeng Ye Tang

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Source date: 16th century

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat. Sedative.

Conditions targeted*: Perimenopausal syndromeChronic urticaria and others

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Tong Ru Dan

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies the Qi and Blood. Removes Stagnation from the breast connecting Meridians.

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Tong Ru Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Tong Ru Dan, Mai Dong , like Dong Quai (another deputy ingredient), nourishes Blood and supports the flow of Body Fluids.

Read more about Tong Ru Dan

Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang

Source date: the 18th century

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Improves throat. Resolves toxicity. Clears the Lungs.

Conditions targeted*: DiphtheriaTonsillitis and others

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang, Mai Dong acts on the Lungs, which connects directly to the throat as a main Qi pathway. Together with Xuan Shen (Ningpo figwort root), it nourishes the upper and lower sources of Body Fluids.

Read more about Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang

Yu Nu Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Drains Heat from the Stomach. Nourishes Yin.

Conditions targeted*: StomatitisGlossitis and others

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Yu Nu Jian. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Yu Nu Jian, Mai Dong is very effective in moistening the Stomach, generating Body Fluids, and alleviating irritability. It nourishes the Yin primarily in the Middle and Upper Burners, and thus complements Shu Di Huang (Prepared rehmannia) in nourishing the Kidney Yin.

Read more about Yu Nu Jian

Qing Ying Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears the Nutritive level Heat. Relieves Fire Toxin. Removes Heat. Nourishes Yin.

Conditions targeted*: Encephalitis BMeningitis and others

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Qing Ying Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Qing Ying Tang, Mai Dong clears Heat, tonifies Yin and Body Fluids.

Read more about Qing Ying Tang

Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan

Source date: 1615 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Treats Yin Deficiency of the Lungs and Kidneys.

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

Read more about Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan

Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang

Source date: 1658 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears dryness. Moistens the Lungs.

Conditions targeted*: InfluenzaAcute bronchitis and others

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang, Mai Dong is sweet and cooling. It supports Body Fluids generating so as to nourish the Yin. It also assists the key herb in protecting the Yin and the Lungs from Heat Dryness invasion. 

Read more about Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang

Wen Jing Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms the Uterus and vessels. Nourishes Blood. Dispels Cold. Dispels Blood Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: Dysfunctional uterine bleedingUterine hypoplasia and others

In Wen Jing Tang, Mai Dong nourishes the Blood, tonifies the Yin, and regulates the LiverIn this formula, together with Donkey-hide gelatin, they focus on nourishing the Yin, moistening Dryness, and clearing Heat from Deficiency.

Read more about Wen Jing Tang

He Che Da Zao Wan

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies the Kidneys. Strengthens the Directing and Penetrating Vessels. Regulates the periods.

Read more about He Che Da Zao Wan

Liang Di Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Yin. Cools Blood. Stop bleeding.

In Liang Di Tang, Mai Dong nourishes Yin

Read more about Liang Di Tang

Ren Shen Dang Gui Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Nourishes Yin.

In Ren Shen Dang Gui Tang, Mai Dong nourishes Yin

Read more about Ren Shen Dang Gui Tang

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 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 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 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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.

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

Sources:

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.