Ai Ye (Silvery wormwood leaves) in Chinese Medicine

English: Silvery wormwood leaves

Chinese: 艾叶

Parts used: Dried leaves

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Artemisia argyi

Other names: Chinese mugwort, Argy wormwood, Ai Cao or Gaiyou

Use of Ai Ye (silvery wormwood leaves) 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 and dry.

Dosage: 3-9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Warms the meridians and stops bleeding. Warms the womb and calms the fetus. Expels Cold and stops pain. Calms cough, relieves asthma and breaks up Phlegm.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ai Ye may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Irregular menstruation Abdominal pain Hematemesis Infertility Abnormal uterine bleeding Itching Nosebleed

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used when there is Heat in the Blood due to Yin Deficiency and should be used with caution during pregnancy.

Key TCM concepts behind Ai Ye's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ai Ye 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 Ai Ye is Warm in nature. This means that Ai Ye tends 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 Ai Ye can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Ai Ye also tastes Bitter and 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. Bitter ingredients like Ai Ye 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.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Ai Ye is thought to target the Spleen, the Kidney and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids 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. 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.

Research on Ai Ye

A methanol extract prepared from aerial parts of Silvery wormwood strongly reduced the mutagenicity of Salmonella typhimurium.1

Flavones isolated from an extract of Artemisia Argyi were shown to have an anti-tumour effect.2


1. Nakasugi, Toru; Nakashima, Mika; Komai, Koichiro (2000). "Antimutagens in Gaiyou (ArtemisiaargyiLevl. Et Vant.)". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 48 (8): 3256–66. doi:10.1021/jf9906679.

2. Seo, Jeong-Min; Kang, Hyun-Mi; Son, Kwang-Hee; Kim, Jong Han; Lee, Chang Woo; Kim, Hwan Mook; Chang, Soo-Ik; Kwon, Byoung-Mog (2003). "Antitumor Activity of Flavones Isolated fromArtemisia argyi". Planta Medica. 69 (3): 218–22. doi:10.1055/s-2003-38486.

Use of Ai Ye as food

Ai Ye is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Steamed silvery wormwood rice ball.