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Japanese catnip

Chinese: 荆芥

Pinyin: Jīng Jiè

Parts used: Aerial portion and flowers, or the spikes only (in which case it is called Jing Jie Sui)

TCM category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Liver Lung

Scientific name: Schizonepeta tenuifolia

Other names: Fineleaf schizonepeta

Use of japanese catnip (Jing Jie) 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 and moisten thoroughly, bake at 50°C for 1 hour, cut into sections, and dry. This herb can also be carbonized, in which case it is called Jing Jie Tan.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold or Heat depending on the other herbs used. Releases the Exterior for measles. Stops bleeding. Abates swellings.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which japanese catnip may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Blood in stools Abnormal uterine bleeding Abcesses Swellings Rashes Measles Rubella Sores Ulcers Metrorrhagia Metrostaxis Postpartum anemia

Contraindications*: This herb should not be taken by those with spontaneous sweating or with Liver signs such as headache, especially when there is a Deficiency. It should not be used for skin diseases that have become full blown.

Common TCM formulas in which japanese catnip (Jing Jie) are used*

Wan Dai Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies the Middle Burner. Removes Dampness. Stops vaginal discharge. Strengthens the Spleen.

Conditions targeted*: PreeclampsiaOtitis media and others

Jing Jie is an assistant ingredient in Wan Dai Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Wan Dai Tang, Jing Jie smooths Qi and Blood interaction and thereby harmonize the Liver and the Spleen

Read more about Wan Dai Tang

Key TCM concepts behind japanese catnip (Jing Jie)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), japanese catnip are plants that belong to the 'Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Warm/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by increasing the flow of sweat to our capillary pores. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category japanese catnip are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that japanese catnip typically don't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of japanese catnip means that you don't have to worry about that!

Japanese catnip also taste Pungent. 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 japanese catnip tend 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.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such japanese catnip are thought to target the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. 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 japanese catnip (Jing Jie)

Shufeng Liangxue Decoction (consisting of schizonepeta spikes) is effective and safe in treating hormone dependence dermatitis, with the efficacy better and relapse rate lower than those of treatment with Western medicine alone.1


1. Bai YS, Zhou CY, Wang JQ. (2008). Clinical observation on auxiliary treatment of hormone dependence dermatitis by shufeng liangxue decoction. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 28(12):1121-3.