English: Sweet wormwood herbs

Chinese: 青蒿

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

Organ affinity: Gallbladder Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Artemisia annua

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

Use of Qing Hao (sweet wormwood herbs) 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, 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 Qing Hao 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 Qing Hao is used*

Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang

Source date: Qing Dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and relieves acute conditions of the Gallbladder. Relieves acute Damp-Heat syndromes. Resolves Phlegm. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Conditions targeted*: CholecystitisIcteric hepatitis and others

Qing Hao is a king ingredient in Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang, Qing Hao , together with Baikal skullcap root (Huang Qin), the other key herb in the formula, drain Damp Heat from the Liver and Gallbladder

Read more about Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang

Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Clears Heat.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic pyelonephritisPulmonary tuberculosis and others

Qing Hao is a king ingredient in Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang, Qing Hao clears the Heat and expels it from the body. It enters the Yin aspects of the body with the guidance of Bie Jia (Softshell Turtle Shell) and clears Heat there.

Read more about Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang

Qing Gu San

Source date: 1602 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat from Deficiency. Alleviates steaming bone disorder.

Conditions targeted*: TuberculosisPostwound fevers and others

Qing Hao is an assistant ingredient in Qing Gu San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Qing Gu San, Qing Hao drains Fire without injuring the Qi or Blood, and conducts Heat at the level of the bones outward to the level of the muscles and the Exterior.

Read more about Qing Gu San

Qing Jing San

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Blood-Heat. Stops bleeding.

In Qing Jing San, Qing Hao clears Heat

Read more about Qing Jing San

Key TCM concepts behind Qing Hao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qing Hao belongs 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 'Internal 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 Qing Hao is Cold in nature. This means that Qing Hao typically helps 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 Qing Hao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Qing Hao 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 Qing Hao 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 Qing Hao is thought to target the Gallbladder, the Kidney and the Liver. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gallbladder 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 the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on Qing Hao

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


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.