English: Mistletoe

Chinese: 槲寄生

Parts used: Dried stems and branches with leaves

TCM category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Viscum coloratum

Other names: Mulberry Mistletoe, Coloured Mistletoe

Use of Hu Ji Sheng (mistletoe) 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 slightly, cut in thick pieces and dry

Dosage: 9 - 30 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies Liver and Kidneys. Expels Wind and Dampness. Nourishes the Blood. Calms the womb. Treats dry skin. Relieves hypertension.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Hu Ji Sheng may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Rheumatism Rheumatoid arthritis Miscarriage Eczema Hypertension

Key TCM concepts behind Hu Ji Sheng's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Hu Ji Sheng belongs to the 'Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness' category. These herbs typically help treat what's called 'bi pain' (i.e. painful obstruction) in TCM. This roughly corresponds to arthritic and rheumatic conditions with pain, stiffness and numbness of the bones, joints and muscles.

Furthermore Hu Ji Sheng is Neutral in nature. This means that Hu Ji Sheng typically doesn'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 Hu Ji Sheng means that you don't have to worry about that!

Hu Ji Sheng also tastes Bitter. 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 Hu Ji Sheng tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Hu Ji Sheng is thought to target the Kidney and the Liver. According to TCM, 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. The Liver on the other hand 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.

Research on Hu Ji Sheng

Viscum coloratum might be useful for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other inflammatory diseases because it contains viscolin which inhibits phosphodiesterase activity.1

Extracts from Viscum coloratum attenuate airway inflammation and eosinophil infiltration in mice and might therefore be helpful in treating asthma.2


1. TL Hwang, YL Leu, SH Kao, MC Tang et al. (2006).Viscolin, a new chalcone from Viscum coloratum, inhibits human neutrophil superoxide anion and elastase release via a cAMP-dependent pathway. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 41(9), p. 1433-1441. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.08.001

2. JJ Shen, MS Chiang, ML Kuo, YL Leu et al. (2011). Partially purified extract and viscolin from Viscum coloratum attenuate airway inflammation and eosinophil infiltration in ovalbumin-sensitized mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 135(3), p. 646-653. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2011.03.065