Home / Chinese Herb / OPHIOPOGON ROOT [麦冬, MAI DONG]


Name : Ophiopogon Rootradix-ophiopogonis_opt

Chinese Name : 麦门冬 or  麦冬

Latin Name : Radix Ophiopogonis


This herb is the dried root tuber of Ophiopogon japonicus (Thunb.) Ker-Gawl, of the family Liliaceae. It grows in all part of China. Ophiopogon is harvested in summer, washed clean, the rootlets are removed, and it is dried in the sun. Ophiopogon produced  in the Zhe jiang and Sichuan provinces is of the best quality and is said to benefit the heart, promote the production of body fluids, and relieve tension and constipation. It is a tonic and aphrodisiac, promoting fertility and the secretion of milk. Ophiopogon root is an excellent antiaging medicinal herb.

Use of Ophiopogon Root in TCM

Sweet, slightly bitter in taste and slightly cool, it acts on the lungs, heart, and stomach meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Relieves vexation and insomnia: to relieve annoyance, vexation, and sleep disturbances, ophiopogon root is used with coptis root, salvia (dan shen), and lophatherum in a decoction, or with scrophularia root (xuan shen), dried rehmannia root, and wild jujube seed, along with other ingredients, as in Tian Wang Bu Xin Wan (R-45).
  2. Nourishes the heart yin: for wasting disorders, shortness of breath, and exhaustion, it is often blended with codonopsis and schisandra to eliminate irritability, palpitations, and excessive sweating, or with schisandra fruit and ginseng root, as in Sheng Mai San (R-5).
  3. Moistens lungs and nourishes lung yin: to treat a dry cough with sticky, thick sputum and a dry throat, it is prescribed with mulberry leaf, bitter apricot kernel, donkey hide, gelatin, and unprocessed gypsum.
  4. Moistens the bowels and nourishes the stomach: for a dry mouth, tongue, and throat, and dry bowels, and to prevent chronic constipation, it is mixed with glehnia root, dried rehmannia root, and polygonatum rhizome, as in Yi Wei Tang.
  5. Nourishes the lungs and stomach Qi: for congestive lung disease, shortness of breath, and a dry throat, ophiopogon root is combined with pinellia tuber, ginseng root, licorice root, and other herbs, as in Mai Men Dong Tang (r-69).


In a decoction of 10 to 15 g


Those suffering from spleen-stomach deficiency and dampness, or Wind-Cold should either not take ophiopogon or take with caution.

Side Effects and Toxicity

A therapeutic dose does not cause side effects. An intravenous injection of ophiopogon extract (1,000 to 1,225 times the dosage for humans) produced no side effects

Chemical constituents

Ophiopogon root contains free sterols, stigmasterol, sterol glycoside, ophiopogonins A, B, C, and D, ruscogenin, beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and homoisoflavonoids.

Pharmacological Findings

  1. Lowers blood sugar. Regenerates beta cells of the islet of langerhans of the pancreas in diabetic rabbits and the level of glycogen in the test group was higher than the control group.
  2. Increases the contraction of cardiac muscles and increases the oxygen tolerances in experimental animals if injected with ophiopogon extract under anaerobic and low atmospheric pressure conditions. Clinically relieves coronary heart disease and angina.
  3. As an antimicrobial, it inhibits the growth of Staphylococci, Escherichia coli, B subtilis, and B.typhi.
  4. Increases immunology in mice.