Ai Ye (Folium Artemisiae Argyi or Argy Wormwood Leaf)

What Is Ai Ye

Ai Ye commonly known as Folium Artemisiae Argyi or Argy Wormwood Leaf is the dried leaf of Artemisia argyi Levl. et Vabt, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Compositae. It is a common traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture medication, which first appeared in <Mingyi Bie Lu> during the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 CE).

There are approximately 478 species of plants in the Artemisia genus, mainly distributed in temperate, cold-temperate, and subtropical regions of Asia, Europe, and North America. Only a small number of species are found in Africa, South America, and Oceania. Some of the species are commonly used medicinal plants, such as Artemisia argyi Levl. et Vabt, A. Annua, A. scoparia, A. capillaris, Artemisia vulgaris, and so on.

Artemisia argyi Levl. et Vabt commonly known as Silvery wormwood, Chinese mugwort, Seomae mugwort, or Gaiyou is a traditional natural medicine that is extensively used worldwide. They are resistant to cold and drought, prefer warm and humid climates, and are suitable for planting in moist and fertile soil. They often grow in wastelands, roadside riverbanks, and mountain slopes at low to mid altitudes.

Artemisia argyi

They are mainly distributed in China, Russia, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan. Although they are ubiquitous in China, the internationally recognized best-quality A. argyi comes from Qiuchun County and adjacent areas in Hubei Province, China (formerly known as Qizhou in ancient China and the hometown of Li Shizhen) [1]. This type of A. argyi, also known as Qi Ai, is a high-quality moxa material for moxibustion therapy.

In the summer, when the flowers of Ai have not yet bloomed, people pick their leaves, remove impurities, dry them in the sun, use them directly, or carbonize them, and make traditional Chinese medicines.

Ai Ye contains 1,8-cineole, caryophyllene, camphor, neointermedeol, caryophyllene oxide, borneol, camphene, D-carvone, bornyl acetate, β-pinene, L-4-terpineol, perilla aldehyde, pinocarvone, sabinene, hexahydrofarnesyl acetone, ascaridole, tricyclene, thujone, humulene, α-pinene, eugenol, terpinene, germacrene, terpinolene, cymene, cinene, 3-carene, 1,3-cyclohexadiene, crithmene, piperitone, isoborneol, carvacrol, thujanol, curcumene, 3-thujene, cedrene, myreene, nepetin, eupatilin, jaceosidin, apigenin, kaempferol, quercetin, luteolin, centaureidin, casticine, hispidulin, rhamnetin, diosmetin, capillarisin, naringenin, isoquercetin, eriodictyolchalcone, acacetin, isorhamnetin, eupatolitin, apicin, moxartenolide, isotanciloide, argyinolide A~I, arteminolide A~D, artanomaloide, artemisian A~D, artemisiane A~D, triterpenes, phenylpropanoids, organic acids, steroids, polysaccharides, and trace elements.

Generally, the soft Ai Ye with grayish-white color on the back, lots of fuzz, and a strong aroma are preferred.

According to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the medicinal nature of Ai Ye is relatively warm, with slight toxicity, and a bitter and pungent taste. It has a therapeutic effect on pathological changes in the liver, spleen, and kidney meridians.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is often used to warm channels for arrest bleeding, eliminate cold to kill pain, regulate menstrual function, miscarriage prevention, remove dampness to stop itching, and treat hematemesis, nasal Bleeding, uterine bleeding, menorrhagia, vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, cold pain in the lateral lower abdomen, abnormal menstruation, sterility due to uterine cold, vaginitis, erosion of the cervix, eczema, pruritus vulvae, scabies, bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, shrinkage of external sex organs, infantile virus enteritis, trigeminal neuralgia, and tertian malaria.

There are over 300 traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions that contain it, such as Ai Fu Nuan Gong Wan, Ai Ye You Jiao Nang, and Shen Rong Bao Tai Wan.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibited 1-fluoro-2,4-dinitrobenzene-induced ear swelling in CD mice and expression of COX-2 and iNOS and production of NO and PGE2 in LPS-stimulated Raw 264.7 cells [2].
  • Increasing the tail-flick threshold in rats, prolonging the latency of hot plate response and twisting behavior in mice, and inhibiting the number of twisting behaviors in mice [3].
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging ABTS radicals and DPPH radicals, reducing ferric ion (Fe3+) to the ferrous ion (Fe2+) [4].
  • Prolonging the onset of wheezing in guinea pigs and inhibiting histamine- and acetylcholine-induced asthma in guinea pigs.
  • Warming channel for arresting bleeding, treating hematemesis, nasal bleeding, uterine bleeding, and menorrhagia caused by deficiency-cold.
  • Warming the uterus for dispelling cold, regulating the menstrual function, and treating abnormal menstruation, dysmenorrhea, sterility due to uterine cold, and thin leukorrhea caused by lower burner vacuity cold, or retention of cold in the uterus.
  • Treating cold pain in the stomach and abdomen caused by deficiency-cold in the spleen and stomach.
  • Its essential oil significantly inhibits mushroom tyrosinase activity, down-regulates B16F10 intracellular tyrosinase activity, and decreases the amount of melanin content in a dose-dependent pattern [4].
  • Its tannin compounds have a strong hemostatic effect [5]. In vitro anticoagulation experiments have demonstrated that its flavonoid compound eupatilin 7-O-β-d-pyranosyl glucoside significantly extended thrombin time, and 5,6,2′,4′-tetrahydroxy-7,5′-dimethoxyflavone had an obvious effect in increasing prothrombin time [6].
  • Its polysaccharides can prevent liver damage caused by acetaminophen. The mechanism of action may be related to the increase in blood glucose concentration and the increase in liver cell energy caused by the elevation of its polysaccharides, as well as the provision of more reduced coenzyme II and reduced glutathione.
  • Its polysaccharides inhibited the growth of S180 transplanted tumors and prolonged the survival time of tumor-bearing mice [7]. Its extract had marked cytostatic and cytotoxic effects on SMMC-7721 cells and inhibited the SMMC-7721 colony formation in a dose-dependent manner [8].
  • Its ethyl acetate extract suppressed the in vitro proliferation of human primary T lymphocytes in a concentration-dependent, non-cytotoxic manner. It has immunosuppressive activity [9].
  • Studies have found that its crude extract has antiviral effects against herpesvirus and rotavirus [10].
    Its volatile oil has a good inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Bacillus anthracis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Candida albicans [5].
  • The decoction of it can be applied topically to remove dampness to stop itching, and treat skin pruritus such as eczema, genital itching, scabies, etc.”
  • Additionally, by crushing the product and making it into moxa sticks, moxa cones, or other moxa preparations for moxibustion on acupoints of the body’s surface, it can warm and invigorate Qi and blood, penetrate the meridians, and treat illnesses such as cold pain in the lateral lower abdomen, irregular menstruation, and other related symptoms.


Side Effects

  • Its essential oil has a mild irritant effect on the skin, which can cause fever, redness, and other symptoms. Inhaling large amounts of its essential oil can cause overexcitation of the central nervous system. Overdose consumption of it may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Ai Ye is toxic. Poisonous reactions may include dryness of the throat, gastrointestinal discomfort, pain, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, it may cause whole-body convulsions, muscle relaxation, hepatomegaly, jaundice, bilirubinuria, increased urine coproporphyrin, delirium, seizures, and paralysis.
  • Chronic poisoning from Ai Ye may present symptoms such as sensory hypersensitivity, ataxia, neuritis, epileptic seizures, and other neurological disorders.
  • Excessive consumption of Ai Ye by pregnant women may cause uterine bleeding, spasms, and contractions, leading to a miscarriage or threatened miscarriage.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Ai Ye should be controlled between 3-9g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, powders, sprays, moxibustion materials, and lotions.
  • People who are allergic to Ai Ye should not take it.
  • It should not be taken in excess or used continuously.
  • Patients with blood-heat due to yin deficiency should not take it.
  • Pregnant women should use it with caution.
  • Breastfeeding women, children, and elderly patients with the weak constitution should take it under the guidance of a doctor.
  • Vinegar-processed Ai Ye can warm channels and stop bleeding, and it is recommended for use in cases of bleeding due to deficiency-cold.