Club Moss

Club Moss (Shi Song)Club Moss (Shi Song)

Botanical Name: Western – Lycopodium clavatum. Eastern – Lycopodium chensis.

Don’t confuse club moss (L. clavatum) with Chinese club moss (L. chensis)! Only Chinese club moss contains the constituent huperzine A, which is the chemical identified with helping to treat memory. Both club mosses are used to treat fevers, pain and swellings.

Below is an overview of Club Moss (Shi Song), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Club Moss (Shi Song).

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Western Name: Club Moss

Also Known As: Wolf’s Claw, Ground Pine

Organs/Systems: Skin, Muscles

Key Actions: Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial

Medicinal Uses: Heals wounds, reduces swelling


Pin Yin: Shi Song

Also Known As: Chinese Club Moss, Qian Ceng Ta, Shen Jin Cao (Japanese Club Moss). Translates as “Stretch Sinews Herb.”

Meridians: Spleen, Kidney, Liver

Key Actions: Tonifies Spleen, Clears Heat, Relieves Pain, Reduces Inflammation, Promotes Urination

Medicinal Uses: Memory loss, builds blood, irregular menses, fever, swellings, edema

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Club moss is not a moss but, in fact, a vascular plant that has fluid-conducting tissus that mosses do not have. It is a ground-creeping plant that reproduces by spores. It is an evergreen related to ferns more than mosses. Their leaves are narrow, scalelike, bristled and pointed at the tips. It is very soft, green, and a perennial. Some of the branches have a yellow-green spike or cone that points upward.

They like the moist environments in tropical and subtropical forests. Western club moss is native to Europe and mostly harvested in Russia.

Club Moss (Shi Song)Parts Most Frequently Used: Spores, Leaves, Stems

Flavors/Temps: Spicy, Bitter, Warm

Caution: Not to be used during pregnancy or for long-term use. Safe in recommended amounts.

History/Folklore: Club moss is not actually a moss but more closely related to ferns. It is often confused with mosses and called a moss.

The name “lycopodium” derives from the Latin meaning “fox” or “wolf foot,” as it can look like the paw print of a wolf.

In many parts of Europe, it is protected by governments and will grow into a thick mat covering forest floors.

Be sure not to confuse club moss (Lycopodium clavatum) and Chinese club moss (Lycopodium chensis), as they are different species. Only Chinese club moss contains the constituent huperzine A that is known for its boosting of short-term concentration as well as its long-term support of cognitive brain function, including memory function. Both types of club moss are effective for treating fevers, pain, and swelling.

The Chinese use club moss to treat fevers and inflammation. Research in China suggests that the constituent huperzine A is effective in improving memory impairment with patients suffering from mild to moderate vascular dementia.

Club moss is an ancient, magical plant, once used by the Celtic druids. The oily, yellow spore dust was known as druid flour, which exploded with a bright flash when thrown into flames. This effect, caused by the high aluminum content in the plant, made it a popular stage trick for magicians and nineteenth-century theater directors in Victorian England.

Dry, finely-powdered spores of club moss are used to promote the healing of skin irritations and the itching associated with eczema by drying out excess moisture. The spores are antibiotic and nontoxic (the leaves and stems contain lycopodine and clavadine, two poisonous alkaloids). It can be used on cuts, scrapes and wounds, and is great for diaper rashes. The yellow powder from the tips of the plant can be used in a tea to help treat cirrhosis of the liver.

Western club moss is used in homeopathy, and the powder is used as a dusting on pharmaceutical drugs to help prevent them from sticking together.

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Key Constituents:

Alkaloids including Lycopodine, Clavatine, Clavatoxine, Nicotine, Polyphenolic acids, Flavonoids, Apigenin, Triterpenes, Radium. Chinese Club Moss: also contains Huperzine A (HupA).

Did you know?

Relieve Muscle Pain

Club moss wrapped around a swollen and cramped ankle or muscle will help relieve the pain. It is also used in pillows to help with cramping and swelling.


Contains Huperzine A

Chinese club moss contains huperzine A, a chemical found to be deficient in patients suffering from memory loss, and may also protect brain cells from certain poisons.

Fun fact!

Forms of Use

The spores are typically dried and powdered; the dried leaves and stems are used in tincture, extracts, or capsule form.


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