Virgate wormwood

Chinese: 茵陈

Pinyin: Yīn Chén

Parts used: Dried aerial parts

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderSpleenStomachLiver

Scientific name: Arthemisia scoparia or Artemisia capillaris

Other names: Oriental Wormwood, Capillary wormwood, Redstem wormwood

Use of virgate wormwood (Yin Chen) 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 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 virgate wormwood 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 virgate wormwood are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind virgate wormwood (Yin Chen)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), virgate wormwood are plants that belong 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 Damp that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Damp 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 virgate wormwood are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that virgate wormwood tend 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 virgate wormwood can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Virgate wormwood also taste Bitter and Pungent. 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 virgate wormwood tend 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 virgate wormwood are thought to target the Gallbladder, the Spleen, the Stomach 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 Spleen on the other hand assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid 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. 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 virgate wormwood (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