Ài yè – Mugwort

Ài yè, known in English as mugwort leaf or artemisia, and known as “moxa” when prepared for the purpose of burning. It is a bitter, acrid, and warm herb used in frequently in Chinese medicine for ailments ranging from pain to infertility. It is said that its “warmth opens the flow of Qi and Blood” and that its “bitterness dries dampness”. These properties give Ài yè its magical ability to alleviate pains that are aggravated by cold and dampness, whether it be weather, cold foods, or cold air conditioning.

Ài yè could be used internally or externally.

Internally, it is often combined with other herbs to form part of an herbal formula, and is often used for cases of infertility, abdominal pain, bleeding, and a wide range of gynecological disorders. When taken in the form of an essential oil, it can treat respiratory disorders such as cough and wheezing with phlegm.

Externally, ài yè can be used as a wash for itchy, weeping skin conditions. As “moxa” it is burned, which is how Acupuncturists use it during treatments. It penetrates into the level of the muscles, tendons, and even bones to activate circulation. It can be used indirectly over the skin, with a cigar-like pole warming regions and points. It can also be used directly, with the moxa laying directly on the skin. The warmth can be used on areas of the body, such as knees or low back, or specific acupuncture points such as between the medial malleolus and Achilles tendon (acupuncture point KI 3).

Pharmacologically, ài yè is has wide ranging effects. It has hemostatic effects – it can stop bleeding whether used fresh or charred. It has antibiotic, anti-asthmatic, antitussive and expectorant effects. Finally, it has cholagogic effects, increasing the production and excretion of bile.

It’s no wonder ài yè is such a essential piece of Chinese medicine!

By: Margarita Gonzalez

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