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Zhī Mǔ 知母

Pharmaceutical name Anemarrhenae (Asphodeloides) Rhizoma “know mother”
Category Clear Heat, Drain Fire
Key Properties Clears fire
Nourishes LU, ST, KD Yin
Properties Bitter
Tropism LU, ST, KD
Actions & Indications 1) Clears Heat & Drains Fire (4 Bigs)
2) Enriches Yin & Moistens Dryness (night sweat, steaming bone, 5 center heat, false libido)
3) Generates Fluids & Clears Heat (ulcers, wasting & thirsting)
4) Ameliorates the Dryness of Tonifying or Warming Substances
Dosages 6-12g
Contraindications (TCM) Cold from SP & ST Deficiency, KD Deficiency, diarrhea
Contraindications (Western)
Chemical Composition Timosaponin, mangiferin, sarsasapogenin, markogenin,
neogitogenin, anemarns A,B,C,D
Pharmacological Effects • Antidiabetic: in healthy rabbits, oral ingestion at 200 mg/kg decreased blood glucose levels between 18% and 30% for up to 6 hours; in rabbits with diabetes mellitus, oral ingestion at 500 mg/kg for 4 days reduced blood glucose levels and minimized atrophy of pancreas; anemarns A, B, C, and D all have antidiabetic effect, with B being most potent
• Antipyretic: slow onset but prolonged duration, while same action of Shi Gao (Gypsum Fibrosum) has a rapid onset but short duration; thus, these two herbs have synergistic effects and are often combined
• Antibiotic: inhibitory effects against S. aureus, α- and β-hemolytic streptococcus, Salmonella typhi, E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, Vibrio cholerae, and Pseudomonas spp., Mycobacterium spp., and dermatophytes
• Others: antineoplastic and cholagogic activities
Herb-Drug Interactions • Antidiabetics: use with caution with insulin, sulfonylureas, and other antidiabetic medications; combination of antidiabetic herbs and drugs may have a synergistic effect, leading to hypoglycemia
Classical Formula(s)

Ren Shen Ge Jie San (Ginseng and gecko powder) 人參蛤蚧散

Xin Yi Qing Fei Yin (Magnolia Flower Drink to Clear the Lungs) 辛夷清肺飲

Er Xian Tang (Two-Immortal Decoction) 二仙湯

Gui Zhi Shao Yao Zhi Mu Tang (Cinnamon Twig, Peony, and Anemarrhena Decoction) 桂枝芍藥知母湯

Qin Jiao Bie Jia San (Large gentian and Soft-Shelled Turtle Shell Powder) 秦艽鱉甲散

Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang (sweet Wormwood and Soft-Shelled Turtle Shell Decoction) 青蒿鳖甲汤

Qing Shu Yi Qi Tang (Clear Summerheat and Augment the Qi Decoction) 清暑益氣湯

Qing Wen Bai Du Yin (Xi Jiao substituted with Shui Niu Jiao) (Clear Epidemics and Overcome Toxicity Drink 清瘟敗毒飲

Suan Zao Ren Tang (Sour Jujube Decoction) 酸棗仁湯 (酸枣仁汤)

Yu Ye Tang (Jade Fluid Decoction) 玉液湯

Bai Hu Tang (White Tiger decoction) 白虎湯

Da Yuan Yin (Reach the Source Drink) 達原飲

Hua Ban Tang (Transform Maculae Decoction) (deleted jing mi, replaced xi jiao with shui niu jiao) 化斑湯 (減粳米) (犀角用水牛角代替)

Qing Gu San (Cool the Bones Powder) 清骨散

Yu Nu Jian (Jade Woman Decoction) 玉女煎

Zi Yin Jiang Huo Tang (Decoction to Enrich the Yin and Direct Fire Downward) 滋陰降火湯

Xiao Feng San (Eliminate Wind Powder) 消風散


This information is a reference tool for Chinese herbal studies. It is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Please consult a primary health professional if you require health advisory.