Yu Xing Cao



Houttuynia Cordata


Fish Mint; Fish Leaf; Chinese Lizard Tail; Chameleon Plant


Whether applied topically or ingested, Yu Xing Cao is best known for its anti-inflammatory and potential anti-bacterial properties (specifically with staph infections and bacterial pneumonia).

When applied topically, Yu Xing Cao can reduce skin inflammation and extract pus from sores while fighting some bacterial infections, so it may work as an acne mask/serum and shows promise as a topical treatment for cold sores, ear infections, and mild conjunctivitis. It may also make a good infection-preventing mouthwash for those who don’t love alcohol-based rinses.

When ingested, Yu Xing Cao may help balance gut microbiota in people with gluten sensitivities. It may also help clear lung congestion from smoking, bronchitis, and pneumonia as it’s an expectorant, making you cough up any mucus that’s in your lungs. Though, if you’re having difficulty breathing, you should still see a physician.


The whole Yu Xing Cao plant is used in medicinal preparations and is often available for purchase already dried, chopped, and/or powdered. In any form, it’s easy to decoct for both oral and topical administration. That said, because it contains volatile oils, it’s not ideal to leave it decocting for long periods. That is, letting it steep for longer than recommended won’t make its properties any stronger; it’ll just make it taste a little gross and act a lot less effective.


Yu Xing Cao may impact insulin resistance and uptake, so if you have diabetes you should exercise care when considering taking it. It’s also not recommended for use by women who are pregnant or nursing.

You should consult with a certified herbalist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional before taking Yu Xing Cao.


Li, Ting, et al. “Anti-Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Activity of Houttuynoid A, a Flavonoid from Houttuynia Cordata Thunb.” Antiviral Research, Elsevier, 17 June 2017

Sekita, Yasuko, et al. “Preventive Effects of Houttuynia Cordata Extract for Oral Infectious Diseases.” BioMed Research International, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2016

Wang, Jing-Hua, et al. “Pharmaceutical Impact of Houttuynia Cordata and Metformin Combination on High-Fat-Diet-Induced Metabolic Disorders: Link to Intestinal Microbiota and Metabolic Endotoxemia.” Frontiers in Endocrinology, Frontiers Media S.A., 24 Oct. 2018

Wang, Jing-Hua, et al. “Houttuynia Cordata Facilitates Metformin on Ameliorating Insulin Resistance Associated with Gut Microbiota Alteration in OLETF Rats.” Genes, MDPI, 22 Sept. 2017

Winston, David. The Eyes and Nutrition . https://herbaltherapeutics.net/_media/herbal_therapies_for_eye,_ear,_nose_and_throat_conditions.pdf.

Xu, Li, and Wei Wang. Chinese Materia Medica: Combinations and Applications. Donica, 2002

Zhu, Haiyan, et al. “Houttuynia Cordata Polysaccharides Ameliorate Pneumonia Severity and Intestinal Injury in Mice with Influenza Virus Infection.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 23 May 2018


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