Lindera roots

Chinese: 乌药

Pinyin: Wū Yào

Parts used: Dried root tuber

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: BladderSpleenKidneyLung

Scientific name: Lindera aggregata

Other names: Spicebush

Use of lindera roots (Wu Yao) 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 the smaller roots, soak in water, slice and dry

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Warms and stimulates the flow of Qi and relieves pain. Disperses Cold and Warms the Kidneys.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which lindera roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Dyspnea Chest pain Abdominal pain Enuresis Hernial pain Dysmenorrhea

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Qi Deficiency or Interior Heat.

Common TCM formulas in which lindera roots are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind lindera roots (Wu Yao)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), lindera roots are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that regulate Qi' category. Herbs in this category typically treat a TCM condition called 'Qi Stagnation'. Concretely it means that Qi is blocked in the body's Organs and Meridians, most typically the Stomach, Liver, and to a lesser extent, the Lungs. In modern medicine terms, Qi Stagnation often translates into psychological consequences such as depression, irritability or mood swings. It's also frequently associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, the development of breast swellings as well as various digestive disorders.

Furthermore lindera roots are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that lindera roots tend 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 lindera roots can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Lindera roots also taste Pungent. 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. Pungent ingredients like lindera roots 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 lindera roots are thought to target the Bladder, the Spleen, the Kidney and the Lung. 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. The Spleen on the other hand assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. 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 lindera roots(Wu Yao)

Lindera aggregata contains a compound that has cytoprotective action against ethanol-induced gastric injury in mice and might thus have the same effect in humans.1.


1. Zhu, M.; Luk, C. T.; Lew, T. H. (1998). "Cytoprotective Effect of Lindera aggregata Roots Against Ethanol-Induced Acute Gastric Injury". Pharmaceutical Biology. 36 (3): 222–226. doi:10.1076/phbi.