Sweet wormwood herbs

Chinese: 青蒿

Pinyin: Qīnɡ Hāo

Parts used: Dried aerial parts

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer HeatHerbs that clear Yin Deficiency Heat

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderKidneyLiver

Scientific name: Artemisia annua

Other names: Sweet annie, Sweet sagewort, Annual mugwort or Annual wormwood

Use of sweet wormwood herbs (Qīnɡ Hāo) 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 practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, soak in water, cut and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Treats malaria. Treats summer Heat and clears symptoms of deficient Heat. Clears Blood Heat and stops bleeding.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which sweet wormwood herbs may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Fever Summer Heat Malaria Jaundice Headache Chest congestion

Contraindications*: This herb should be used with caution by those with diarrhea due to weak, Cold Spleen and Stomach and by those without Heat signs due to Yin Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which sweet wormwood herbs are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind sweet wormwood herbs' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), sweet wormwood 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 sweet wormwood herbs are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that sweet wormwood 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 sweet wormwood herbs can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Sweet wormwood herbs also taste Bitter. 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. Bitter ingredients like sweet wormwood herbs tend 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 sweet wormwood herbs are thought to target the Gallbladder, the Kidney and the Liver. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gall Bladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. 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 body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on sweet wormwood herbs

Artemisia annua contains flavonoids that have been shown to help cure cardiovascular diseases, cancer and parasitic disease such as malaria.1

Research to develop antimalarial drugs led to the discovery of artemisinin, a compound which is extracted from Artemisia annua, in the 1970s by Chinese scientist Tu Youyou, for which she shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.2

Sources:

1. Ferreira, Jorge F. S.; Luthria, Devanand L.; Sasaki, Tomikazu; Heyerick, Arne (2010-04-29). "Flavonoids from Artemisia annua L. as Antioxidants and Their Potential Synergism with Artemisinin against Malaria and Cancer". Molecules. 15 (5): 3135–3170. doi:10.3390/molecules15053135.

2. Miller, Louis H.; Su, Xinzhuan (2011). "Artemisinin: Discovery from the Chinese Herbal Garden". Cell. 146 (6): 855–8. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2011.08.024.