Walks in the Apricot Forest: Yimu Grass

Tian Yi

PureInsight | May 12, 2003

[In Chinese, "Apricot Forest" is another term for the medical community. For more details see: http://www.pureinsight.org/pi/articles/2003/1/23/1368.html ]


Yimu Grass

Fascinated in the East Wind
I plant some Yimu Grass in my herb garden
And it grows up from the mud.
Look, its leaves surround its flowers and its flower clusters,
Just like children holding their mother with deep love.
It has the formal name of Xiaju, but Yimu is better
Since it is an honor for a grass to be called "Yimu" (good for women).

--Chen Changming

One day when I was young, I went out with my mother. She pointed to a plant with light red and purple flowers and told me that it was Yimu Grass. In Chinese, Yi means "bringing benefit," and mu means "mother." I liked this name, so I remembered it well.

My mother is a doctor of Chinese medicine with a terrific reputation. She is diligent and works hard. Although she hasn't received a lot of formal education, she has had plenty of experience with Chinese traditional medicine and herbs. In our free time, she told me about a lot of medical cases that she had experienced. After hearing about her herbs and medicines again and again, I memorized their names. Now I am a doctor myself, but Mother's valuable knowledge still guides me in treating difficult cases.

Mother often mentioned Yimu Grass. The herb is frequently used and very effective. Indeed, it is known for activating and enriching the blood, regulating the energy channels, among other things. However, it is often ignored in traditional Chinese medicine books.

Yimu Grass was mentioned in Shijing, a poetry collection composed in the Spring and Autumn Period. In the poem Shi·Wangfeng·Zhongguyoutui it says, "There was Yimu Grass in mediaeval times." In Shennong Bencaojing (The Shennong Compendium of Materia Medica), it was ranked as one of the best herbs. It was initially called Yunwei, as well as Gaiming and Daza. In Hehan Yaokao (Hehan Medicine Reference book), it was honored as Qianchenta (Thousand-story Pagoda), Fanhun Dan (Resurrection Miracle Pill) and Tian Zima (Heavenly Sesame).

Yimu Grass tastes slightly spicy and a little bitter. It is good for curing women's irregular or missed periods and other disorders related to the circulation of Qi and blood, and it enhances labor. The root, stem, flower, fruit and leaf of the plant are all effective. They can be used individually or with other herbs. In the countryside of southern China, many elder women often plant Yimu Grass in their yards. They pick the flower of Yimu Grass in summer and decoct it with red date. The soup is very effective for enriching the blood.

Yimu Grass had been used in medicine for more than 2000 years. There is a Chinese fairy tale about it.

There was a kind girl named Xiu Niang, who lived in a beautiful village in southern China. She got married and before long became pregnant. One day, Xiu Niang was spinning cotton. Suddenly a wounded yellow deer ran into her house. The deer looked at her and wailed. From a distance, Xiu Niang saw that a hunter was coming. Xiu Niang sympathized with the deer, so she hid it under her stool and covered it up with her long skirt. After a while, the hunter came to the door and asked her, "Madam, have you seen a wounded yellow deer?" Xiu Niang answered with ease while continuing to spin the cotton, "It went to the east." The hunter immediately ran to the east. Xiu Niang let the deer out and told it to run to the west. The deer seemed to understand her words. It got down on its knees and bowed to Xiu Niang several times and then ran to the west.

Xiu Niang was having a very hard delivery when her baby was due. It was so severe that even the herb called fingersmith could do nothing for her. She took the medicine to expedite child delivery but that did not work either. The whole family cried in fear.

At this moment, she heard the sound of a deer outside her house. Xiu Niang saw that it was the yellow deer that she had saved. The deer had a plant in its mouth and walked slowly to her bed. With tears in its eyes, it made soft sounds to Xiu Niang, who realized its meaning and asked her husband to take the plant from the deer. The deer nodded and went away.

Xiu Niang took the decoction made from the plant. Magically, her pain was gone and she was able to relax. Shortly the baby came out, crying loudly. Xiu Niang learned the function of the plant, so she collected some and planted them in front of her house and in the back yard. She recommended it to pregnant women who were about to give birth and named it Yimu Grass.

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/4/17/21243.html

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