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 practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.
Preparation: Remove impurities and residual roots, wash, cut into sections and dry
Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Heat and aids thirst. Aids urination and drains Damp-Heat.
Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by pregnant women.
Common TCM formulas in which lophatherum herbs are used*:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), lophatherum herbs are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.
As suggested by its category lophatherum herbs are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that lophatherum herbs typically help people who have too much "heat" in their body. 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 lophatherum herbs can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Lophatherum herbs also taste 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. Sweet ingredients like lophatherum herbs 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 lophatherum herbs are thought to target the Stomach, the Heart and the Small intestine. 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. Like the Stomach, the Small Intestine has a digestive role, extracting the "pure" part of what we injest to the Spleen and the "impure" down to the Large Intestine.
Pharmacological studies demonstrated that the extracts of the leaves of L. gracile showed antipyretic, diuretic, antibacterial, antitumor, and hyperglycemic activities.1
1. Xiao PG. Modern Chinese Materia Medica, Vol. 3. Beijing: Chemical Industry Press; 2002: 335–338
Lophatherum herbs are also eaten as food.