Mi Jiu (Rice wine) in Chinese Medicine

English: Rice wine

Chinese: 米酒

Parts used: Fermented rice

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Hot

TCM taste(s): BitterPungentSweet

Organ affinity: Liver

Scientific name: Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Use of Mi Jiu (rice wine) 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: Rice wine is produced by steaming rice, adding koji mold to convert the rice's starches into sugars, and then fermenting the mixture with yeast to produce alcohol.

Main actions according to TCM*: Removes Blood Stagnation. Clears Wind-Damp.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Mi Jiu may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Anger Worry Dry skin Carbuncles Snake bites Spider bites Scopian bites

Common TCM formulas in which Mi Jiu is used*

Dang Gui Shao Yao San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Liver Blood. Spreads the Liver Qi. Strengthens the Spleen. Resolves Dampness.

Conditions targeted*: Perimenstrual migrainesEndometritis and others

Mi Jiu is an envoy ingredient in Dang Gui Shao Yao San. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

In Dang Gui Shao Yao San, Mi Jiu is warm and acrid. A small amount of wine encourages the free flow of Liver Qi and promotes urination, thereby reinforcing both of the formula's functions. 

Read more about Dang Gui Shao Yao San

Zhi Gan Cao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Augments the Qi. Nourishes Yin. Nourishes the Blood. Restores the pulse.

Conditions targeted*: Irregular heartbeatsSick sinus syndrome and others

Mi Jiu is an envoy ingredient in Zhi Gan Cao Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

In Zhi Gan Cao Tang, Mi Jiu helping the assistant ingredients keep things moving.

Although this condition is due to an underlying Deficiency, there is also an element of Stagnation due to both Cold and Dryness. Both must be treated if the condition is to be dealt with effectively.

Read more about Zhi Gan Cao Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Mi Jiu's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Mi Jiu belongs to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stagnation when it causes certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore Mi Jiu is Hot in nature. This means that Mi Jiu typically helps people who have too much "Cold" in their body. 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 Mi Jiu can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Mi Jiu also tastes Bitter, Pungent 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 Mi Jiu tends 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 Pungent ingredients 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. Lastly 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 Mi Jiu is thought to target the Liver. 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.