Yin Chen

English: Virgate wormwood

Chinese: 茵陈

Parts used: Dried aerial parts

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Gallbladder Liver Spleen Stomach

Scientific name: Arthemisia scoparia or Artemisia capillaris

Other names: Oriental Wormwood, Capillary wormwood, Redstem wormwood

Use of Yin Chen (virgate wormwood) 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 residual roots and impurities, chop and dry.

Dosage: 9 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Drains Damp and clears Heat, especially from the Liver and Gallbladder. Eliminates Heat and relieves the Exterior. Relieve Jaundice.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Yin Chen may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Hepatitis Sores Jaundice Loss of appetite Vomiting

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used where there is jaundice caused by Qi Deficiency with no signs of Damp-Heat.

Common TCM formulas in which Yin Chen is used*

Yin Chen Hao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears heat. Resolves dampness. Reduces jaundice.

Conditions targeted*: Viral hepatitisCirrhosis and others

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

In Yin Chen Hao Tang, Yin Chen treats all types of jaundices, but especially jaundice due to Damp-Heat

Read more about Yin Chen Hao Tang

Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang

Source date: 1918 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Sedates the Liver. Axtinguishes Wind. Nourishes the Yin. Anchors the yang.

Conditions targeted*: HypertensionRenal hypertension and others

Yin Chen is an assistant ingredient in Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang, Yin Chen smoothes the movement of Liver Qi and drains Liver Yang Excess. This reinforces the actions of pacifying, controlling, and sedating the Liver yang.

Read more about Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Yin Chen's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Yin Chen belongs to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Dampness that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Dampness accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore Yin Chen is Cool in nature. This means that Yin Chen tends to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. 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 Yin Chen can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Yin Chen 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 Yin Chen 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 Yin Chen is thought to target the Gallbladder, the Liver, the Spleen and the Stomach. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gallbladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. 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. The Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.

Research on Yin Chen

The essential oils of A. scoparia and A. capillaris exhibited considerable inhibitory effects against all oral bacteria tested, while their major components demonstrated various degrees of growth inhibition.1

Sources:

1. JD Cha, MR Jeong, SI Jeong, SE Moon, JY Kim et al. (2005). Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of the Essential Oils of Artemisia scoparia and A. capillaris. Planta Med 2005; 71(2): 186-190. DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-837790