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Chinese Acupuncture And Herbal Treatment For Tinnitus

Tinnitus may be the most common ear problem. Unfortunately, so far there is no proven effective treatment and the best cure for it is prevention. The good news is that Chinese medicine practitioners have accumulated experiences from practices in previous thousands of years. Today, they treat tinnitus with acupuncture, herbal therapy, or massage. And several controlled studies have shown that they could help get rid of the unwanted noise to a certain extent.

Tinnitus refers to ringing or buzzing in the ears when no external sound is present. This is not a disease but a symptom of other problems associated with ear, blood vessels, heart, brain, or other organs. So, to get rid of tinnitus finding the underlying cause is a priority. Over the years acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy have been clinically proved to treat tinnitus effectively.

Chinese herbal treatment for tinnitus

According to Western medicine, there are subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus. Similarly, tinnitus can be categorized into a few patterns in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) based on some specific named symptoms.

1. Wind-heat invasion. The patients of this pattern are characterized by abrupt onset and mild symptoms of low pitched sounds, feeling of fullness in the ear, and increased volume of their own voice. It may follow nasal congestion, runny nose, cough, and other exterior symptoms of lung meridian. Besides, TCM practitioners often observe congestive eardrums, pink tongue, thin white coating, and floating-rapid pulse. By the way, the patients with this pattern are more likely to be diagnosed with acute secretory otitis media.

The treatment should follow the theory of Liu Yuan Su (1120 – 1200), who believed that the root of this condition lay in lung disorders. So, the treatments of tinnitus include dispelling wind, ventilating lung, and unblocking the orifices. And Yin Qiao San is one of the typical formulas. The commonly used herbs are Jin Yin Hua (Flos Lonicerae), Lian Qiao (Fructus Forsythiae), Jie Geng (Radix Platycodi), Xing Ren (Semen Armeniacae), Jing Jie (Herba Schizonepetae), Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae), Chan Tui (Periostracum Cicadae), and Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii). Besides, Gua Lou (Fructus Trichosanthis) can be added for excess phlegm and Xin Yi (Flos Magnoliae), Cang Er Zi (Fructus Xanthii), and Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae) for nasal congestion.

2. Liver-fire rising. This pattern is characterized by acute onset, severe symptoms and loud ringing. Because it is closely related to changes of spirit and sentiment, anger can worsen the symptoms. And it’s often accompanied by red tongue, yellow coating, wiry and rapid pulse, bitter taste in mouth, upset, dizziness, headache, irritability and other symptoms of liver-fire blazing.

As its name suggested, this pattern is caused by liver fire rising. So, the basic therapies in tinnitus treatment are to clear liver, purge heat, and unblock the orifices and the preferred formula is Long Dan Xie Gan Tang and its modifications. The commonly used herbs include Long Dan Cao (Radix Gentianae), Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae), Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae), Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Ze Xie (Rhizoma Alismatis), Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae), Mu Tong (Caulis Akebiae), Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri), Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii), Man Jing Zi (Fr. Viticis), and Ci Shi (Magnetitum).

3. Turbid phlegm obstruction. This pattern is characterized by long duration and obvious symptoms of ear ringing, dizziness, heaviness of the head, and ear fullness. They may be accompanied by chest tightness, poor appetite, swollen tongue with teeth marks on sides, thick greasy coating, and slippery-wiry pulse.

In this case, tinnitus occurs when phlegm turbidity arises and blocks the upper orifices. For that reason, the principles of effective treatment are to resolve phlegm, descend the turbid, regulate the stomach, and unblock the orifices. The most commonly used formula is Er Chen Tang and its modifications. The commonly used herbs include Zhi Ban Xia (Rhizoma Pinelliae Preparatum), Chen Pi (Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae), Fu Ling (Poria), Jiang Can (Bombyx Batryticatus), Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii), Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis), Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae), and so on.

4. Liver-kidney deficiency. This pattern persists for a long time and affects mostly the elderly, according to conclusion based on clinical practice. It is characterized by cicada-like noises that are not so loud, perhaps accompanied by achiness and weakness in lower back and knees, vertigo, dry eyes, and other symptoms of liver-kidney deficiency. In addition, TCM practitioners often observe red tongue with little coating and thready pulse. The therapeutic principle is to nourish the kidney, strengthen the essence, and nourishing yin for suppressing hyperactive yang. One of typical formulas is Er Long Zuo Ci Wan and the commonly used herbs include Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae), Shan Zhu Yu (Fructus Corni), Shan Yao (Rhizoma Dioscoreae), Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii), Niu Xi (Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae), Tu Si Zi (Semen Cuscutae), Fu Pen Zi (Fructus Rubi), and more.

If the patients have obvious symptoms of flaring-up of the heart-fire, such as upset, irritability, insomnia, mouth sores, red tip of tongue, and rapid thready pulse, the treatment principle is to clear heart fire and nourish kidney yin. In this case, Dao Chi San is the preferred formula. The commonly used herbs are Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae), Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae), Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis), Dan Zhu Ye (Herba Lophatheri), Suan Zao Ren (Semen Zizyphi Spinosae), and more.

5. Weakness of the spleen and stomach. This pattern is characterized by low spirits, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, worse symptoms after fatigue, poor appetite, pale tongue, thin white or thick coating, and weak pulse. The treatment principle is to invigorate spleen and replenish Qi and invigorate splenic yang. So, the best optional formulas include Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, Bai Zhen Tang, and the like. The commonly used herbs are Dang Shen (Radix Codonopsis), Huang Qi (Radix Astragali), Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), Sheng Ma (Rhizoma Cimicifugae), Ge Gen (Radix Puerariae), Chen Pi (Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae), Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), and more.

Chinese acupuncture for tinnitus

1. Excess patterns. The treatment protocols are to clear liver and drain fire and open the blocked upper orifices (ear). The treatment focuses on points of Foot-Shaoyang and Hand-Shaoyang. The main treatment points include Yifeng (SJ17), Tinghui (GB2), Xiaxi (GB43), and Zhongzhu (SJ3). When it comes to auxiliary points, Tai Chong (LV3) and Qiuxu (GB40) can be added for flaming up of Liver-Gallbladder Fire, Waiguan (TE 5) and Hegu (LI4) for exterior syndromes related to exogenous pathogenic wind, and Shenshu (B-23) and Guanyuan (RN4) for kidney deficiency. And filiform needles should be used and applied the reducing method.

2. Deficiency patterns. The treatment protocols are to tonify the kidney and nourish seven orifices. The treatment focuses on points of Foot-Shaoyin and Hand-Taiyang. The main treatment points include Taixi (KI3), Zhaohai (KI6), and Tinggong (SI-19). When it comes to auxiliary points, Shenshu (B-23) and Qihai (CV 6) can be added for kidney-qi deficiency and Shenshu (B-23) and Ganshu (BL 18) for liver-kidney deficiency. And filiform needles should be used and applied the reinforcing method. By the way, moxa cones can be used on the affected area for kidney-qi deficiency.

Nut Grass (Xiang Fu)

As an extremely tough weed, nut grass is very difficult to kill. Its strong root and nodule, better known as Xiang Fu in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is also called “nut” simply because it appears like a small nut although it isn’t. While nutgrass can be a nightmare to many a lawn, TCM practitioners have used its underground tuber as an important part of many herbal remedies for various conditions, in particular gynecological disorders, for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

What is nut grass?

This perennial plant is a species of sedge (Cyperaceae). It is also called cyperus rotundus, purple nutsedge, Java grass, and so on. It can grow up to 55 inches, with 5–20 cm long leaves, bisexual flowers, three-angled achene fruit, and up to 25 mm white fleshy rhizomes.

Medicinally, the rhizomes should be harvested in autumn. After that, people will singe them to remove the fibrous roots, blanch or steam them, and dry them in the sun. Sometimes, people dry them right after the tubers are singed. And the finished one, called Cyperus Rhizome, Nut Grass Rhizome, or Rhizoma Cyperi Rotundi, is mostly spindle-shaped, and sometimes slightly curved, 2 to 3.5cm in length, and 0.5 to 1cm in diameter.

Rhizoma cyperi benefit

This is a versatile herb, thanks to its valued medicinal properties. And some studies have found that it can provide health benefits as follows.

1. Traditionally it is considered a primary Qi-regulating herb. It can be used in the treatment of chest and abdominal distention and pain caused by liver Qi stagnation. And it is often combined Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri) and Qing Pi (Pericarpium Citri reticulatae Viride) to treat left or right side chest pain and Gao Liang Jiang (Rhizoma Alpiniae Officinarum) to treat cold-pathogen induced stomach ache.

2. TCM believes that it can treat irregular menstrual periods and pain in lower abdomen due to liver Qi stagnation. When used together with Ai Ye (Folium Artemisiae Argyi), it treats abdominal pain during period due to stagnation of Qi caused by the pathogenic cold.

3. It can inhibit the uterine contraction in vitro and relax uterine muscle tension. In addition, it contains oil that has a weak estrogen effect.

4. Programmed electrical stimulation has shown that subcutaneous injection of 20% alcohol extract (0.5 ml / 20 g) could significantly increase the pain threshold in mice.

5. Nutgrass root has antibacterial activity, and its extract has an inhibitory effect against certain fungi. For example, its volatile oil can inhibit Staphylococcus aureus and Shigella sonnei.

6. Scientific research shows that it has anesthetic effect.

7. Its alcohol extract has antipyretic effect. That’s to say, it is useful for fever.

8. Experiments show that it can help lower the rectal temperature.

9. It has a certain therapeutic effect for swollen feet and other symptoms caused by inflammation.

10. It has a protective effect on bronchospasm.

11. TCM holds that it is able to treat nausea and vomiting.

12. It can help calm the mind. So, it makes sense in the treatment of liver Qi stagnation and distraction due to the impetuous mood.

13. It can help lower blood pressure gradually and the effect can last for 0.5 to 1 hour.

14. It has a tonic effect on the action of the heart. The active ingredients of cardiotonic effect include alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, phenols and so on. In addition, it can slow down heart rate too.

Sample Xiang Fu recipes on herbal remedies

The Chinese Pharmacopoeia says that it is acrid in flavor and slightly cold and non-toxic in nature. It goes to meridians of liver, lung, spleen, stomach and Sanjiao. Basic functions are to regulate the Qi, dispel the stagnation, and regulate the menses to reduce menstrual cramps. Primary nutgrass uses and indications include distending pain in hypochondrium area, breast swelling pain, hernia pain, irregular menstruation cycle, epigastralgia, belching, acid regurgitation, vomiting, nausea, painful menstrual periods, metrorrhagia and metrostaxis, morbid leucorrhoea, excessive fetal movement, and more. Recommended dosage is from 5 to 10 grams in decoction. Besides, it can be used in the forms of pill and powder too.

1. Kuai Qi Tang from the Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Imperial Grace Formulary of the Tai Ping Era). It is for abdominal fullness and bloating, chest tightness and choking, belching, regurgitation of stomach acids to the esophagus, vomiting due to excess mucus, hangover, and loss of appetite. Other main herbal ingredients include Sha Ren (Fructus Amomi) and Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae).

2. Xiao Wu Chen Tang from Ju Fang. It is mainly used in the treatment of stabbing pain in abdominal area. Other two ingredients include Wu Yao (Radix Linderae) and licorice root.

3. Yue Ju Wan from San Yin Ji Yi Bing Zheng Fang Lun (Three Key Factors of Disease Pattern Formulas). It is used for all stagnations. Other herbs are Cang Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis), Chuan Xiong (Szechuan Lovage Rhizome), Shen Qu (Medicated Leaven), and Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae).

4. Xiang Jing San from San Yin Fang. In this formula it is combined with Jing Jie Sui (Herba Schizonepetae) to treat rectal prolapse.

5. Tie Zhao San from Zhong Zang Jing (Master Hua’s Classic of the Central Viscera). It is used together with Zi Su Ye (Folium Perillae) to prevent miscarriage.

6. Xiang Fu Bing from Yi Xue Xin Wu (Medical Revelations). It is formulated with She Xiang (Moschus) and Pu Gong Ying (Herba Taraxaci) to treat acute mastitis and carbuncles.

Side effects and contraindications of cyperus rotundus

According to TCM, Xiang Fu shouldn’t be used in patients have Qi deficiency but without stagnation or blood heat due to yin deficiency.

When it comes to the toxicity of alcoholic extract of Cyperus rotundus rhizomes, the median lethal dose is around 1.5 g per kg weight in mice. In other words, its toxicity is very low, and the rats have good tolerance to it when the feed contains no more than 25% of it. But the growth of animals will be inhibited when its content accounts for 30% to 50% in the feed.

Zheng Gu Shui

Zheng Gu Shui, literally “bone setting solution”, “royal bone water”, “rectify bones liquid”, or “rightbone lotion” in English, is a Chinese patent medicine that activates blood to resolve stasis, relaxes muscles and tendons and activates blood in channels and collaterals, and relieves pain and swelling. So, the indications of this external analgesic lotion include arthritis, bunions, ankle sprain, fractures (broken bones), back pain, bone spurs, bursitis, bruises, tendonitis, frozen shoulder, neck pain, osteoarthritis, tennis elbow, and so on. Here’s only one most important thing to remember: this external analgesic liniment should not be applied onto an open wound.

What is Zheng Gu Shui?

It is a pure Chinese herbal preparation produced by Guangxi Yulin Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd. In fact, it is based on the secret prescription handed down from Chen Shanwen’s ancestors. By the way, Chen Shanwen was a legendary, famous practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the early 1950s. This patent remedy is a widely used topical therapy for injuries and muscle aches and fatigue following physical exercise because it can promote the healing of bone and traumatic injuries faster, ease pain, reduce swelling, promote blood circulation to disperse blood stasis, increase metabolism, and so on.

In this formula, the herbs that activate blood circulation to dissipate blood stasis, detumescence and odynolysis include Polygonum cusidatum rhizome (Jiu Long Chuan, Bushy Knotweed), root of Litsea cubeba (Lour.) Pers. (Dou Chi Jiang), Lignum Dalbergiae Odoriferae (Jiang Xiang), Rhizoma Polygoni Cuspidati (Hu Zhang), Calophyllum membranaceum Gardn. et Champ (Heng Jing Xi), Menthol crystal (Bo He Nao), Fructus Gleditsiae Sinensis (Zao Jia), roots of Securidaca inappendiculata Hassk. (Wu Wei Teng), roots of Piper hancei Maxim. (Chuan Bi Feng), Camphor crystal (Zhang Nao), Ilex rotunda Thunb. (Sui Gu Mu), Eupolyphaga/Steleophaga (Tu Bie Chong), Zedoary Rhizome (E Zhu), Radix Cynanchi Paniculati (Xu Chang Qing), Sheepear Inula Her (Bai Niu Dan), Ardisia crenata (Zhu Sha Gen), Radix Aucklandiae (Mu Xiang), and Radix Zanthoxyli (Liang Mian Zhen); the herbs for relaxing tendons and activating collaterals are Gnetum montanum Markgr. (Mai Ma Teng) and Stem of Climbing Entada (Guo Jiang Long); the herbs for expelling wind-damp and dredging Channels are Radix Aconiti Kusnezoffii Preparata (Zhi Cao Wu), Cortex Periplocae (Xiang Jia Pi), Caulis Piperis Kadsurae (Hai Feng Teng), Radix Crotonis crassifolii (Xiang Zhang), Radix Moghaniae Philippinensis (Qian Jin Ba), and Aralia armata (Wall.) Seem. (Ying Bu Pu).

Does Zheng Gu Shui really work?

Pharmacodynamic studies have shown that this brand of traditional Chinese medicinal liniment can promote healing of fracture in mice and rats and increase the bearing capacity of where the fracture is located; it can expand the local blood vessels in rabbits and significantly promote the absorption of local blood stasis; it also has obvious therapeutic effect on blood stasis and edema caused by external wounds in mice; it has obvious anti-inflammatory effect on carrageenan-induced inflammation of plantar foot tendons in mice; it can significantly increase the pain threshold of mice.

Because it contains small amount of menthol, camphor and alcohol, it is water-soluble and volatile. When it is applied on the affected area, the anti-inflammatory ingredients will soon penetrate into the deep tissue and work quickly there. In general, gently rubbing it 2 or 3 times on the affected area can effectively relieve symptoms of joint pain and swelling, pain and soreness in the muscles, straining muscles, and so on. It is often used in the treatment of early and mid-term acute muscle and soft tissue injury. However, it is not for chronic soft-tissue injuries, which instead should be treated by collaterals-warming ointments like Hong Hua You (Red Flower Oil) or Huo Luo You (Flexscle Liniment) because they have more durable efficacy and less irritation to the skin.

How to use Zheng Gu Shui?

1. When it comes to minor injuries, it is recommended to slightly rub a cotton ball dipped in liniment on the affected area. If it is a severe case, it is a good idea to apply a saturated cotton ball on the affected area for 1 hour, 2 or 3 times a day.

2. In terms of broken bone and dislocation, it should be applied only after the bones have been returned to their normal position. Besides, don’t cover the affected area after applying it. Or it will cause blisters due to blood circulation disorders.

3. Applying it before and after exercise or strenuous activity, or putting a little of this healing liniment in the bath water, can effectively prevent and get rid of fatigue and soreness and help manage symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Instructions and contraindications

1. It can quickly relieve pain. It is worth mentioning that it is more for early and mid-term treatment of injuries, fracture, dislocation and other sudden soft tissue injury. But it makes no sense to chronic soft tissue injury.

2. It is suitable for acute injury. So, experts advise against the long-term and continuous use of it. And it should not be used in large area either. Stop using it if 3-day treatment shows no improvement or local pain, swelling, itching and other symptoms occur after the treatment.

3. Do not apply it to open wounds. Because it is a strong irritant, it not only causes pain, but also makes the wounds more difficult to heal.

4. People with true alcohol allergies should not use it because it is alcohol-based. If itching occurs during the treatment, stop it right away since it may be adverse reactions. In this case, allergy testing is highly recommended.

5. It comes in a convenient spray bottle. After the patients spray the liquid to the affected area and rub, they should wash hands immediately. And do not apply it in the eyes, oral mucosa, and so on.

Zheng Gu Shui side effects

In summary, this is a good addition to everyone’s medicine cabinet. But be aware, however, that it may cause occasional itchy rash. Besides, it shouldn’t be used by pregnant women and those with blood deficiency but without blood stasis, according to traditional Chinese medicine.

Bi Yan Pian (Nose Inflammation Pills)

bi-yan-pian-reviewsIt is important to mention first that the ingredients of Bi Yan Pian, a popular over-the-counter herbal medicine for rhinitis, may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. This name literally means “Nose Inflammation Pills” in Chinese. Just its name suggested, it is formulated mainly for relieving runny nose and nasal or sinus congestion no matter it is caused by common cold or flu, allergies, sinusitis, or rhinitis. And it is usually available in 120 Tablets per box, sometimes sugar-coated.

What is Bi Yan Pian?

According to traditional Chinese medicine, this is a superficies-relieving formula that clears heat, detoxicates, ventilates lung, opens orifice, and reduces pain and swelling. For that reason, it is highly effective for acute and chronic sinusitis and allergic rhinitis due to wind pathogen accumulated in the lung. Typically, the tablets are sugar-coated or film-coated. When the coating is removed, they are brown, slightly aromatic and bitter.

As mentioned above, this combination formula of Chinese herbs may consist of different ingredients in different brands. For example, Biyan Pian, manufactured by Wuhan Zhonglian Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd., includes Cang Er Zi (Fructus Xanthii Sibirici), Xin Yi Hua (Flos Magnoliae Liliflorae), Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae Divaricatae), Lian Qiao (Fructus Forsythiae Suspensae), Ye Ju Hua (Flos Chrysanthemi Indici), Wu Wei Zi (Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis), Jie Geng (Radix Platycodi Grandiflori), Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae), Zhi Mu (Rhizoma Anemarrhenae Asphodeloidis), Jing Jie (Herba Schizonepetae Tenuifoliae), Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae Uralensis), Huang Bo (Cortex Phellodendri), Ma Huang (Herba Ephedrae), and Xi Xin (Herba cum Radix Asari).

Among this prescription, Cang Er Zi and Xin Yi Hua are two main ingredients and they act to relieve exterior syndrome, dispel wind, open orifice, and stop pain; Fang Feng and Jing Jie relieve superficies, dispel wind, and eliminate dampness; Bai Zhi and Jie Geng disperse the lung, expel pus, and open orifice; Lian Qiao, Ye Ju Hua, Zhi Mu, and Huang Bo clear heat, detoxicate, and reduce swelling; Wu Wei Zi astringes lung and produces saliva; Gan Cao harmonizes the properties of other herbs.

How to use Biyan Pian?

Although it is an effective treatment for rhinitis, the treatment should still be based on syndrome differentiation. Or wrong medication administration may cause very serious consequences. For example, a 40-year-old woman with chronic rhinitis was experiencing dry nasal passages, and she decided to take Tong Qiao Biyan Pian after some other friends told her that this is a good treatment. It turned out that soon the symptom of chronic dry nose got worse and later she was diagnosed with atrophic rhinitis.

According to TCM practitioners, dry rhinitis indicates the patient has deficiency fire, which belongs to yin deficiency and should be treated with herbs that nourish yin for moistening dryness. Unfortunately, the mentioned drug belongs to aromatic drugs with effect of clearing dampness-heat. The result will inevitably fuel the loss of body fluids, worsen the dryness, and in the end accelerate nasal mucosal atrophy.

It is worth mentioning that the same drug can provide very satisfactory effect to the right patients. For example, another 20-year-old woman has experiencing nasal congestion and runny nose for more than a week due to a cold. After the examination, the doctor detected the red nasal turbinate, which indicated a subacute rhinitis due to access heat inside. After that, she was given the same prescription and cured in a week.

These two cases show that the choice of traditional Chinese patent medicine for rhinitis can be tricky. So, it is a good idea to visit a qualified TCM practitioner if the patients cannot decide for themselves.

Different Chinese patent medicines for treating rhinitis

Today, a dazzling array of traditional Chinese patent medicines for rhinitis is available at the pharmacy. It is worth mentioning that they may have totally different ingredients and indications.

1. Qianbai Biyan Pian. It applies to rhinitis patients of deficient type with dry nose, a fishy smell, itchy nose, burning sensation on nose, and yellow thick mucus. It works for persistent nasal obstruction and a duller sense of taste and smell too.

2. Xinyi Biyan Pian is good at dredging orifices. So, it is particularly suitable for patients with nasal obstruction.

3. Bi Yan Kang Pian. This is a compound preparation with chemical drug of chlorpheniramine and Chinese herbs of Guang Huo Xiang (Herba Pogostemonis), Cang Er Zi, E Bu Shi Cao (Herba Centipedae), and so on. It is more suitable for acute and chronic rhinitis, especially allergic rhinitis. Because it contains chlorpheniramine, use caution when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery because drowsiness may occur.

4. Huo Dan Wan. It is more suitable for teenager with rhinitis because they tend to have excessive liver yang but deficient spleen yang. By the way, spleen deficiency can easily lead to an increase in thick nasal discharge. Since it mainly contains Huo Xiang (Patchouli, Agastache) and Zhu Dan Zhi (Fel Suis Scrofae Domesticae), it can aromatically transform dampness, release the exterior, and activate spleen. So, it is an ideal drug for adolescent sinusitis.

Gui Pi Tang (Restore the Spleen Decoction)

gui-pi-wanIn fact, in traditional Chinese medicine there are about 4 herbal formulas named Gui Pi Tang, which literally means “Restore the Spleen Decoction” in Chinese. Among them, the most popular one was from Ji Sheng Fang (Formulas to Promote Well-Being), a classic Chinese medicine book compiled by Yan Yonghe (1253 A.D.). Sometimes it is also known as Ginseng and Longan Combination since these are the two major components. When it is available in other forms, it is also called Gui Pi Pian and Gui Pi Wan. Thanks to its high medicinal value, it has been highly regarded by successive generations of physicians. So, as a result, today its indications have been expanded and thus it applies to a huge range of different ailments, from insomnia to depression.

What is Gui Pi Tang?

The formula by Yan Yonghe is mainly used for overthinking, injured heart and spleen due to overwork, forgetfulness, and arrhythmia. Xue Ji, a famous Ming Dynasty gynecologist, later added Dang Gui and Yuan Zhi to this prescription in order to strengthen its nourishing and nerve-soothing effects, extending its indications at the same time. Similarly, other successive generations of physicians kept improving this formula and at the end make what it is now.

So, it consists of Ren Shen (Rx. Ginseng), Huang Qi (Rx. Astragali), Bai Zhu (Rz. Atractylodis Macrocephalae), Fu Ling (Poria), Suan Zao Ren (Sm. Zizyphi Spinosae), Long Yan Rou (Arillus Longan), Mu Xiang (Rx. Aucklandiae), Zhi Gan Cao (Fried Rx. Glycyrrhizae), Dang Gui (Rx. Angelicae Sinensis), Zhi Yuan Zhi (Fried Rx. Polygalae), Sheng Jiang (Rx. Zingiberis Recens), and Da Zao (Fr. Jujube).

This formula is mainly designed to invigorate spleen, supplement Qi, nourish the heart, and enrich the blood. When it comes to ingredients, they play a different role respectively in this formula. Huang Qi strengthens the spleen and augments Qi; Long Yan Rou augments spleen-Qi and nourishes heart-blood; Ren Shen and Bai Zhu augment Qi; Dang Gui nourishes the blood; Fu Ling, Suan Zao Ren, and Yuan Zhi work together to tranquilize the mind; Mu Xiang mobilizes clumped Qi; Gan Cao tonifies Qi and mediates among herbs; Sheng Jiang reconciles the spleen and stomach; Da Zao tonifies both Qi and Blood.

Gui Pi Tang benefits

This formula is mainly formulated for the syndrome due to heart-spleen and Qi-blood deficiency. Its clinical manifestations can be divided into two groups.

On the one hand, it is characterized by the symptoms due to heart-blood deficiency and malnutrition of heart spirit, accompanied by palpitations, arrhythmia, insomnia, forgetfulness, night sweats, asthenic fever, and sallow complexion. And the patients may still suffer from spleen deficiency induced fatigue, loss of appetite, pale tongue with thin coating, and so on.

On the other hand, it is characterized by the symptoms of frenetic movement of the blood caused by deficient spleen’s failure on governing blood, including hematemesis, hematochezia, bruises and blood spots under the skin, advanced menstruation, metrorrhagia and metrostaxis, and the like. In comparison, the former one is more common. So, it means that the application of Gui Pi Tang should go with the syndrome differentiation clinically.

Modern pharmacological actions of Gui Pi Tang

1. Antidepressant effects. It can counteract the abnormal secretion of serum corticosterone and maintain normal secretion of Estradiol (E2) in model rats. Besides, its antidepressant effects may be related to the maintenance of normal secretion of corticosterone and E2.

2. Anti-ulcer effect. The experimental results show that it has an inhibitory effect on stress ulcer, reserpine-induced ulcer and indomethacin-induced gastric ulcer. And it has no obvious influence on gastric acid secretion.

3. Action on the blood system. It improves the microcirculation of the bone marrow, increases the hematopoietic tissue of bone marrow, promotes the proliferation and differentiation of pluripotent stem cell and the maturation of immature neutrophils, extends the life of neutrophils, and so on. In addition, it promotes albumin synthesis, increases the amount of hemoglobin, and replenishes a variety of vitamins and trace elements.

According to modern pharmacological studies, this herbal formula can still increase blood sugar, prevent burns and thermal shock, increase hemoglobin, improve blood coagulation, strengthen and excite nervous system and endocrine function, and so on. Thanks to these complex pharmacological effects, it has a wide range of indications, including gastric and duodenal ulcers, functional uterine bleeding, aplastic anemia, thrombocytopenic purpura, hematuria, neurasthenia, menstrual psychosis, heart disease, and on son. Once again, the treatment with this decoction should presuppose that the diseases are caused by heart-spleen or Qi-blood deficiency.

Gui Pi Tang side effects and contraindications

1. It does not apply to patients with a cold or excessive internal heat;

2. Children, pregnant women, and patients with high blood pressure or diabetes should take it under the guidance of a physician;

3. It may cause dry mouth. The patients often feel thirsty but have no desire to drink water.

4. It may cause nasal dryness. It is more due to dryness-heat injuring lung, excess heat in lung channel, or excessive stomach heat. Besides, sometimes it can be the result of lung deficiency too.

5. It may cause reduction of stool frequency and constipation, or occasionally digestive tract symptoms, dry skin, and abnormal liver function. But these symptoms will disappear after stopping medication.

6. It is a good idea to always ask a doctor before using Gui Pi Wan (teapills), Tang (Decoction) or Pian (Tablets) if the patients are taking other drugs too.

Curculigo Orchioides (Xian Mao)

kali-musliCurculigo orchioides is better known as Xian Mao in China. Other names of this herb also include golden eye-grass, Syah Musli, weevil-wort, Kali Musali, black musli, and Kali musli. Actually, the main plant part used for medicinal purposes is the dried root of Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. For that reason, this herb is often called curculigo rhizome or rhizoma curculiginis. In India, it has been traditionally used as aphrodisiac. Similarly, in China it is used for impotence, azoospermia, urinary incontinence, pain and cold sensation in abdomen, menopausal syndrome and other diseases. When it comes to medicinal uses, it has something in common with Ba Ji Tian (Radix Morindae Officinalis) and Yin Yang Huo (Horny Goat Weed, Herba Epimedii) since all of them are considered ‘The Herbs that Tonify Yang.’ It should be noted that this musli herb is slightly toxic and not for everyone. Otherwise, an overdose may harm a human body.

What is curculigo orchioides?

This is a tuberous perennial herb in the genus Curculigo, belonging to the family Amaryllidaceae. It is native to China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. It is usually found in areas where elevation is below 1,600 meters, such as hilly slopes, forest, wild places and grassland.

The medicinal root should be harvested from February to April before the plant has burgeoned out or from July to September after the plant has withered. After the harvest, the root should be washed and dried in the sun. Sometimes, it should be steamed before drying.

Curculigo orchioides benefits

Modern research has found that it is rich in cycloartane triterpene glycosides, methyl phenol, chloromethyl phenol and other polysaccharides. Besides, it still contains nitrogen-containing compounds, alcohols, fatty compounds, flavonols and so on. And studies have shown that it can extend the average survival time of experimental animals, significantly increase the weight of the anterior pituitary, ovary and uterus in rats, significantly prolong the sleep time of mice, and so on. This herb is known as a potent adaptogen and aphrodisiac in Ayurveda. What’s more, it can offer more health benefits.

1. Boosting immune system. It can enhance the phagocytosis of peritoneal macrophages in mice. It has no effect on T cell system of normal mice, but significantly increases T cell count in immunosuppressed mice induced by cyclophosphamide (Cy). Besides, the “Er Xian” capsule, consisting of curculigo rhizome and Epimedium Herb, can increase IgG levels and total complement in serum, suggesting that the drug has certain enhancement effect on humoral immunity and cellular immunity.

2. Increasing testosterone levels. It can significantly increase the weight of rat’s seminal vesicle, suggesting that it has the male hormone-like effect.

3. Fighting inflammation. It has significant inhibitory effect on croton oil-induced swelling in mice’s ears.

4. Warming kidney and improving erectile dysfunction. TCM often combines it along with Shu Di Huang (Chinese Foxglove Root), Yin Yang Huo (Epimedium), Gou Qi Zi (Fructus Lycii), and Shan Yu Rou (Cornus Fruit, Fructus Corni) for kidney-yang deficiency, which is manifested as impotence, low sperm count and motility, premature ejaculation, and seminal emission.

5. Warming the spleen to stop diarrhea. According to TCM, it nourishes spleen to dispel cold, stop diarrhea, and increase appetite. In this case, it is a good idea to steep it in wine or combine it with Dali ginseng, dried ginger, and Bai Zhu (White Atractylodes Rhizome).

6. Treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It can be used to treat different types of arthritis of cold-damp pattern. In this case, it is often combined with Huang Qi (Radix Astragali), Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica Root), Ba Ji Tian, Du Zhong (Cortex Eucommiae), Zhi Chuan Wu (Radix Aconiti Preparata), Xi Xin (Herba cum Radix Asari), and so on.

7. Combating hypoxia and high temperature. And it has sedative, anticonvulsant effect. And “Er Xian” capsule can prolong the survival of animals, reduce lipofuscin in liver, heart, and brain, and prevent blood clot formation.

8. Regulating endocrine system. “Er Xian” decoction may help to regulate endocrine function. In fact, this formula is often prescribed by TCM practitioner for menopausal women with endocrine and hormone disorders.

9. Fighting cancer. Its acetone extracts have shown remarkable inhibition of both Ehrlich ascites and solid tumor.

10. Others. In TCM it is also used in the treatment of impotence, male sexual dysfunction, menopausal syndrome and depression.

Sample curculigo orchioides recipes on herbal remedies

According to Traditional Chinese medicine, it is acrid, warm and slightly toxic in nature. It acts on meridians of kidney and liver. Basic functions are to warm kidney-yang and strengthen muscles and bones. It is mainly used to treat erectile dysfunction, low sperm count and low sperm motility, urinary incontinence, uterine bleeding, feeling cold and pain in the abdomen, cold/numb feet and loins, ulcer, scrofula, and diarrhea. Recommended dosage in decoction is 3 to 10 grams. In addition, it is also used in the forms of powder, pill, and steeped wine.

1. Xian Mao Wan. This formula comes from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It is mainly used to improve bone and muscle health, boost energy levels, and sharpen vision. Other ingredients in this formula include Cang Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis), Gou Qi Zi (Wolfberry Fruit), Che Qian Zi (Semen Plantaginis), Bai Fu Ling (Poria), Xiao Hui Xiang (Fructus Foeniculi), Bai Zi Ren (Semen Platycladi), and Di Huang (Rehmannia).

2. Shen Mi San. This formula comes from San Yin Ji Yi Bing Zheng Fang Lun (Three Causes And One Treatment For Diseases). It is mainly used to relieve asthma, nourish heart and kidney, and descend Qi. Other ingredients include Dang Shen (Codonopsis Root), E Jiao (Colla Corii Asini), Ji Nei Jin (Endothelium Corneum Gigeriae Galli), and sticky rice.

3. Er Xian Tang. This formula comes from “Zhong Yi Yan Jiu Gong Zuo Zi Liao Hui Bian.” It is mainly used for hypertension due to disharmony of thoroughfare and conception channels. Other herbal ingredients include Xian Ling Pi, Ba Ji Tian, Zhi Mu (Rhizoma Anemarrhenae), Huang Bai (Phellodendron or Amur Cork tree Bark), and Dang Gui.

Side effects and contraindications of curculigo orchioides

As mentioned above, this herb is toxic. Although it has better medicinal benefits than Yin Yang Huo and Ba Ji Tian, it has more side effects. So, in many cases it is better to consider the latter two herbs first. So far, the known poisonous ingredient is lycorine, which can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, decreased red and white blood count, and even death. So, it is not suitable for patients with low blood cell counts. Although curculigo orchioides contains relatively small amount of lycorine, large dose can still cause significant gastrointestinal reactions. By the way, so far there is no report yet on the side effects of stable long term use of small amounts of this herb. Clinically, the recommended dosage is about 9g, but this dosage still causes internal heat and nausea. According to TCM, those with fire excess from yin deficiency shouldn’t take it. In short, people should only take this herb on the advice of a medical professional.

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan (Six Flavor Tea Pills)

six-flavor-teapillsLiu Wei Di Huang Wan is one of the most famous and frequently used formulas in Traditional Chinese medicine. It is also known as Six Flavor Tea Pills, Liu Wei Di Huang Pian, rehmannia six, YinVive™, Liuwei Dihuang Wan, Six Ingredient Pill with Rehmannia, Six Flavor Rehmanni, and so on. It is so popular that nearly all Chinese have heard this name. Traditionally, it is used for vertigo, insomnia, tinnitus, weakness in the knees, poor hearing, poor eyesight, night sweats, heat in the five, weakness and soreness of the loins, and more. Today, it is also used to treat coronary heart disease, diabetes, Addison’s disease, low adrenals, menopause, hypertension, infertility, impotence, and so on. For that reason, some people, especially middle-aged and older men and post-menopausal women, tend to use it for a long time to help boost libido and stay young. However, it is worth mentioning that this formula is not for everyone.

What is Liu Wei Di Huang Wan?

This earliest version of this Chinese Medicinal Formula is Jin Kui Shen Qi Wan, which comes from The Shanghan Lun or Shanghan Zabing Lun (the Treatise on Cold Injury), a classic medicinal literature compiled by Zhang Zhongjing about 2000 years ago at the end of the Han dynasty. Qian Yi, a royal physician in the Northern Song Dynasty, believed that kidney determines the growth and development of people, emphasizing the importance of reinforcing and reducing at the same time. So, in order to replenish Yin due to the Yin insufficiency of the kidney, according to his theory Qian Yi changed Jin Kui Shen Qi Wan slightly and created a 6-ingrediet formula, which is later known as Liuwei Dihuang Wan. And it consists of Rehmanniae Radix (Shu Di Huang), Corni Fructus (Shan Zhu Yu), Dioscoreae Rhizoma (Shan Yao), Alismatis Rhizoma (Ze Xie), Poria (Fu Ling), and Paeoniae suffruticosa Cortex (Mu Dan Pi).

Chinese medicine believes that the kidneys store congenital essence, which is the foundation of Zang Fu (Yin / Yang) organs and the source of life. So, the kidneys are associated with “the gate of Vitality” or “Ming Men” in TCM. In this prescription, Shu Di Huang is the principal drug for enriching yin and nourishing kidney, Shan Zhu Yu for nourishing both liver and kidney, Shan Yao for strengthening spleen and benefiting vital Qi, Ze Xie for reducing dampness in the kidney, Mu Dan Pi for clearing liver fire, and Fu Ling for resolving spleen dampness.

What is Liu Wei Di Huang Wan good for?

First of all, it’s important to note that it is not an elixir although it is a versatile Chinese patent medicine. According to incomplete statistics, this prescription involves 137 conditions in a variety of literature. The most common uses are to help suboptimal health status, boost immune system, and delay aging. This is why so many people take it as supplements for a long time in order to improve health. At the same time, as a therapeutic drug it is good for hypertension, diabetes, menopausal syndrome and other diseases too.

As a typical formula for insufficient liver and kidney yin in TCM, it is commonly used in various diseases due to liver and kidney yin deficiency. In recent years, it has been used for a variety of chronic diseases and difficult diseases and the result is quite positive.

1. Silicosis. According to reports, when it is combined with tetrandrine (100mg 3 times / day) for 2 months, it significantly improves cough, expectoration, chest pain and dyspnea in patients with silicosis. Besides, by doing so it still decreases the risk of colds and bronchial infection by 52.94%.

2. Chronic rhinitis. It can be used to treat chronic rhinitis too. Usually the patients should take it twice a day and continue for at least 2 months to see big improvement.

3. Allergic rhinitis. It can enhance cellular immune mechanisms, promote the synthesis of immune globulin, inhibit the formation of antibodies, inhibit allergic reactions, and play a two-way regulation. It works even better when combined with sodium cromoglycate.

4. Recurrent respiratory tract infections in pediatric patients. Some TCM practitioners ever used it to treat 60 cases of children with recurrent respiratory tract infection and the results were satisfactory. Besides, it has been observed that it significantly impacts the children’s immune function and trace element levels.

5. Recurrent aphthous ulcers. Taking it 2 to 3 times a day for 3 to 5 days can help treat recurrent aphthous ulcers. And the patient won’t relapse easily after treatment.

6. Xerostomia. It works for the elderly who are suffering from dry mouth, especially when there are no other primary diseases.

7. Mild to moderate hypertension. 38 cases of mild to moderate hypertension were randomly divided into two groups. While one group was treated with Liuwei Dihuang Wan along with Compound Danshen Tablet, the other group was given nifedipine and vitamin E. As a result, 90.9% participants saw drop in blood pressure in the first group, compared to 87.5% in second group.

8. Upper gastrointestinal bleeding. It has a certain therapeutic effect for patients with glucocorticoid-induced chronic gastrointestinal bleeding.

9. Nephrotic syndrome. It is good for nephrotic syndrome too. Usually a course of treatment (20 days) will significantly improve symptoms, signs and proteinuria.

10. Chronic nephritis. It treats both acute and chronic nephritis, but it has better effect for the latter, especially in patients with high blood pressure or edema too. Usually 1 course of treatment (1 month) can help eliminate proteinuria and edema, and promote the recovery of renal function.

11. Prostatitis. According to clinical reports, it is a highly effective treatment for patients with chronic prostatitis patients. Usually 10 days are a course of treatment.

12. Male infertility. It can act on the hypothalamus – pituitary – gonadal axis, improve sex hormone secretion, promote the normal sperm production, and thereby increase the success rate for getting pregnant.

13. Drug-induced leukopenia. It treats granulocytopenia caused by clozapine, anti-thyroid drugs and chemotherapy.

14. Toxic side effects of chemotherapy drugs. When used as adjuvant treatment, it can help achieve satisfactory result in enhancing the effect of chemotherapy drugs while reducing their toxic side effects. The method is to take it from the first day of chemotherapy, 9 grams each time, 3 times a day, and 20 days as 1 course of treatment.

15. Diabetes. Those who have pre-diabetes or even mild diabetes are very controllable with diet in some cases. Besides, Liuwei Dihuang Wan can help lower blood sugar and urine sugar and improve symptoms too.

16. Menopausal syndrome. Usually taking it for 3 months can help patients to improve flushing, hot flashes, sweating, palpitations, anxiety, insomnia and other symptoms.

17. Cerebral hemorrhage sequelae. It has good therapeutic efficacy for patients with sequelae from cerebral hemorrhage, such as trouble with speaking and understanding, paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg, blurred or blackened vision in one or both eyes, and so on.

18. Senile dementia. It has obvious antioxidant effect that is good for senile dementia. Related animal experiments show that it can improve learning and memory disorders and help to enhance memory. And clinical trials confirmed that it improves amnesia and senile dementia to some extent.

19. Fatigue syndrome. It helps mental fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite, sleep loss and disturbed sleep, emotional instability, concentration difficulty, forgetfulness, memory problems, slow thinking, and the like.

20. Rheumatoid arthritis. It can replace glucocorticoid in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In other words, it helps avoid the side effects of glucocorticoids.

21. Wrinkles. It has potent properties of strengthening kidney yin and helps the production of SOD (superoxide dismutase), one of the body’s most powerful natural antioxidant enzymes. Since SOD can turn the superoxide ions that caused aging into harmless substances, it delays the aging of the human body to help people stay young.

22. Chronic Pruritus in the Elderly. The pathogenesis of this disease is mainly associated with dysfunction of sebaceous gland, lack of sebum and degradation of autonomic nervous system (ANS) function. The good news is that Liuwei Dihuang Wan is good at nourishing kidney yin, enhancing androgen secretion, exciting gonadal axis, slowing down the sebaceous gland atrophy, relieving skin dryness and so on.

23. Premature aging. It helps blotchy hyperpigmentation, premature graying of hair, increased wrinkle formation, dry texture and other symptoms of premature aging.

24. Hair loss. As mentioned above, the Kidney system is considered the foundation of the body’s energy in TCM. And kidney governs the hair on the head. That’s to say, hair loss is related to the state of the kidney and an outward sign of poor kidney health inside. So, kidney yin deficiency will fail to supply a regular supply of key nutrients to hair and cause thinning hair and hair loss.

25. Vitiligo. The disease is an acquired loss of skin color in blotches. Liuwei Dihuang Wan nourishes kidneys and liver, tonifies blood and essence, and moisturizes and lightens skin. Modern studies suggest that this formula activates tyrosine activity, accelerates the production of tyrosine-catalyzed melanin and promotes melanoma cell division and movement by improving the body’s cellular immunity. By doing so, it restores color to the white patches of skin.

26. Systemic lupus erythematosus. This is an autoimmune disease characterized by the production of unusual antibodies in the blood. Liuwei Dihuang Wan can be a good option during stable stage and a reduction in the corticosteroid dose. This is mainly because it is able to strengthen healthy energy while fostering root, nourish kidney yin, improve immune system function, reduce “Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome” or “rebound effect” and some other adverse reactions, help reduce the amount of hormones, and relieve negative feedback inhibition by adrenal glucocorticoids.

27. Low alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels. AFP is a tumor marker. Continuously elevated or decreased AFP blood levels can be found in certain tumors, especially hepatocellular carcinoma, or primary liver cancer, and some types of testicular and ovarian cancer. Long-term consumption of Liuwei Dihuang Wan can greatly reduce the incidence of liver cancer.

28. Eye diseases. It can help patients with senile cataracts to significantly improve vision, blurred vision, lens opacity and other symptoms. In addition, it also has a certain effect on treating traumatic corneal ulcer, Posner-Schlossman Syndrome (PSS), and so on.

29. Riehl’s melanosis. As a photocontact dermatitis, Riehl melanosis is characterized by initial erythema, edema, pruritus, and followed hyperpigmentation. The pigmentation will gradually spread and then becomes stationary in the end. TCM believes that the pathogenesis of Riehl melanosis is related to deficient kidney yin. So, this is where Liuwei Dihuang Wan comes in.

30. Chloasma. It is also known as melasma, facial pigmentation, and the mask of pregnancy. Chloasma is associated with endocrine disorders, autoimmune diseases, oral administration of certain drugs and pregnancy. There is no specific therapy so far. Luckily, Liuwei Dihuang Wan can be a good choice for the treatment of melasma.

Side effects of Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

1. It is for those with obvious symptoms of kidney yin deficiency, which is manifested as weakness and soreness of the knees and the loins, hot palms of hands and soles of feet, dizziness, tinnitus, hot flashes, night sweats, dry mouth and throat, nocturnal emission, premature ejaculation, etc. Although this formula tonifies kidney, long-term use may cause abdominal fullness or bloating, diarrhea, loss of appetite and so on in even healthy people who have not the above-mentioned symptoms.

2. It is not for those with obvious kidney and spleen yang deficiency, which is manifested as pale complexion, physical weakness, feeling of being cold without an apparent cause, and so on. For example, it will worsen erectile dysfunction due to kidney yang deficiency. In this case, another formula like Gui Fu Di Huang Wan would make more sense.

3. It is not for those with kidney yin deficiency have abnormal function in spleen and stomach. As mentioned previously, this formula mainly focuses on invigorating yin. Unfortunately, yin-natured ingredients tend to weaken the digestive function. So, caution should be taken for the elderly in long-term and continuous use of this prescription.

If Liu Wei Di Huang Wan has been used for two weeks and the improvements are minimal, it may not be the right therapy. In this case, it is a good idea to visit a qualified TCM practitioner and let him or her assess the state of health and then carry out symptomatic treatment.

Agrimony Herb (Xian He Cao)

herba-agrimoniaeAgrimony herb, also known as hairy agrimony or Herba Agrimoniae in pharmaceutical Latin, is usually found in woods and grasslands in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Because it is rich in tannins, it has the properties of an astringent. Although it is usually considered an herb to stop bleeding, it is more than just a hemostatic since it works on the treatment of a few other illnesses like cancers. As a traditional Chinese herbal medicine, it is called Xian He Cao, which can be translated as “crane grass.” Interesting enough, many Chinese herbs named with “Xian” are considered to be herbs with magical uses, for example, Epimedium (Xian Ling Pi), Curculigo (Xian Mao), Smilax (Tu Fu Ling), and the like.

What is agrimony?

Medicinally it refers to the aerial part of Agrimonia pilosa. Ledeb., which is a flowering plant in the Rosaceae family. Agrimony grass is normally harvested during summer and autumn when the stems and leaves are lush. And then it should be dried after the impurities are removed.

Agrimony plant is a perennial, up to 1 meter. The whole plant is with white long hair. Rhizome is short, often with 1 or several radical buds (overwintering buds). Erect stems are sparsely covered with pubescence and glandular hairs. Pinnately compound leaf is alternate; leaflets come in different sizes, interval orders, oval to obovate shapes, 2.5 to 7cm length, 1.5 to 3.5cm width, serrated edges, and pubescent sides; stipules is nearly ovoid. Racemes are acrogenous; calyx is obconic and five-lobed and lobe base has many persistent hooked bristles; yellow petals are 5; ovary is semi-inferior and with prominent style; when fruits are ripening, calyx tube thickens and sags. Calyx tube is with a circle of erect barbed hooks on top and deep longitudinal groove outside. Because it mimics the crane head, it is better known as “crane grass” in China. The blossom and fruit season is from May to December.

Main chemical constituents of agrimony are agrimophol, agrimonolide, luteoloside, agrimonin A, B, C, agrimol A to E, tannins, sterols, saponins, and volatile oil. Some of them have antidysenteric, antineoplastic, immunostimulating, and antifungal effect on living tissue. That’s the reason why is often used in the treatment of yeast infections, tumors, and dysentery.

Agrimony herb benefits

So, what is agrimony used for? In fact, this herb has long been used to treat different ailments in different countries. For example, in Korea it is mainly for taeniasis, eczema, and boils. But in China and Nepal, it is more used a drug for sunstroke, headache, sore throat, and stomachache.

Modern pharmacological actions of agrimony

1. 500 micrograms of agrimony extract are injected into 1ml nutrient solution of cancer cells and normal cells respectively per day. After 6 straight days, the cancer cells are completely destroyed while the normal cells continue to reproduce;

2. Its crude concrete can promote animal blood clotting. After injected intravenously with agrimonine, the rabbits are found with shorter clotting time, increased platelets, and increased blood calcium. And in the experimental femoral artery bleeding in dog, topical application of agrimony powder, in combination with compression, can provide some certain topical hemostasis;

3. Agrimonine can adjust the heart rate, excite the fatigue skeletal muscle, increase cell resistance, and lower blood sugar on mice, rats, and rabbits;

4. Agrimonolide can reduce the contraction amplitude and tension of isolated rabbit intestine. In addition, in vivo it can also inhibit the intestinal peristalsis in mice;

5. Its water and alcohol extracts have anti-inflammatory effect on rabbit conjunctivitis caused by staph infections;

6. Water extract (100 ml/kg) has analgesic effect on pain evoked by rabbit tooth pulp stimulation;

7. Water extract in vitro inhibits Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella typhi, and M. tuberculosis.

Sample agrimonia herb recipes on herbal remedies

According to the Chinese Materia Medica, it is bitter and astringent in flavor and neutral in nature. It acts on meridians of lung, liver, and spleen. Basic functions include astringency and hemostasis, stopping dysentery, and killing insects. Main agrimony herb uses and indications are hemoptysis, hematuria, blood in the stool, erythral and leukal dysentery, uterine bleeding and abnormal vaginal discharge, internal lesion caused by overexertion, exhaustion, carbuncles, bruises, and traumatic hemorrhage. Recommended agrimony dosage in decoction is 10 to 15 grams or even 30 grams in large doses. In addition, it is also used as agrimony tea, powder, paste, and other forms.

1. Si Chuan Zhong Yao Zhi (Chinese Medicinal Herbal in Sichuan)

Remedy for spitting blood: Agrimony, Hebra pyrolae (Lu Xian Cao), Silene conoidea Linnaeus (Mai Ping Cao);

2. Ling Nan Cai Yao Iu (Record of medicinal plants in Kwangtung and Kwangsi Provinces)

Remedy for white dysentery and hemoptysis: decoction of 15 to 30 grams of agrimony;

3. Dian Nan Ben Cao (Pharmaceutical Natural History of Southern Yunnan)

Remedy for red and white vaginal discharge or accompanied with gonorrhea: agrimony 15g, Sambucus Javanica Reinw (Ma Bian Shao) 5g, and Rubus foliolosus (Hei Suo Mei).

4. Xian Dai Shi Yong Zhong Yao Yue (Modern Practical Materia Medica)

Remedy for anemia, weakness, internal lesion caused by overexertion, and exhaustion: agrimony 50g and Jujube fruit (Hong Zhao) 10.

5. Fu Jian Min Jian Cao Yao (Fujian Folk Medicine)

Remedy for snake bites: pick fresh agrimonia leaves, wash and pound them, and then apply them on the wounds.

Agrimony herb side effects and contraindications

Agrimony herb is generally considered non-toxic. For that reason, it is often used in larger dose of more than 30 grams, or even up to 500 grams per dose. In fact, it was recorded as a toxic herb in many ancient medical books in China. For example, the “Shen Nong’s Herbal Classic” listed it as a low-grade drug that shouldn’t be used for a long time.

Modern pharmacological studies have also proved that agrimophol, one of active ingredients contained in agrimony, is toxic. Its toxicity is mainly manifested in the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system reactions. When used in larger doses it may blind a dog, which has been proved by pathological observation too. Therefore, clinician should be alert to the mentioned adverse reactions in the application of this herb.

And, in TCM it shouldn’t be used in those who have no bleeding.

Prunella Vulgaris (Xia Ku Cao)

self-healPrunella vulgaris, also known as Xia Ku Cao in Pinyin, is a very good herbaceous plant, typified in TCM by Sang Ju drink, a famous Chinese herbal drink handed down from Qing Dynasty. Its main traditional medicinal uses include sore eyeballs at night, dizziness, and other ailments, thanks to its amazing power in removing heat from the liver and protecting the liver. And the mass production of Xia Sang Ju, the modern version of Sang Ju drink, began in 1980 by Xingqun Pharmacy in Guangdong province.

What is prunella vulgaris?

Medicinally it refers to the dried ears of Prunella vulgaris L., a species in the family Labiatae. Other common names include heal-all, self-heal, slough-heal, and the like. In China it is mainly grown in provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, and Henan. It is collected in summer when the ears present brownish red. Before it is used raw, the impurities should be removed and the ears should be dried.

This is a perennial herb. Opposite leaves are ovate or elliptical-lanceolate, 1.5 to 5cm long, 1 to 2.5cm wide, with an entire or a serrate margin. Verticillaster clusters into ears, 2 to 6cm long; kidney-shaped bracts are with cuspidate tip; calyx is bilabiate; corolla is purple, slightly concave on the top lip, and with fine cracks at the edge of the middle lobe of lower lip. Small nut is brown. Flowering time is from May to June and the fruiting time is from July to August.

The whole prunella plant contains triterpenoid saponins that is based on the aglycone called oleanolic acid. And it also contains glycosides substances like rutin and Hyperoside and organic acids like ursolic acid, caffeic acid, and free oleanolic acid. In addition, it still contains vitamin B1, Vitamin C, vitamin K, carotene, resin, bitter substance, tannins, volatile oils, alkaloids, and potassium chloride.

Prunella vulgaris benefits

Prunella is usually harvested in the summer and the main medicinal part is the half-dry ear or the whole plant. Because it withers once June solstice comes, it is called Xia Ku Cao, which literally means “summer withered grass.” Prunella is a treasure. That’s to say, its medicinal parts include stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, and ears. Actually this herb has long been documented in Chinese medicine classics, and widely used in traditional Chinese medicine.

This is a famous heat-clearing herb. Thanks to the cold medicinal properties, it is commonly used for the treatment of internal heat itself and a range of diseases caused by internal heat, for example, high blood pressure, herpes, goiter, lymphadenectasis, breast hyperplasia, and more. Traditionally it is taken in the form of decoction. But clinically it is rare to be used alone since it is less reliable in this case. So, very often prunella needs to work with other herbs to bring out its best healing powder.

Modern pharmacological actions of prunella

1) Its decoction, water extract, ethanol and water extract, and ethanol extract can significantly reduce blood pressure in experimental animals. All stem, leaf, ear, and whole plant are antihypertensive, but ears’ efficacy apparently is better;

2) Its decoction through alcohol deposition is with a clear anti-inflammatory effect in mice by intraperitoneal injection;

3) Its decoction in vitro has a certain inhibition on Shigella, Salmonella typhi, Vibrio cholerae, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, staphylococcus bacteria and M. tuberculosis var. hominis.

Sample prunella recipes on herbal remedies

Chinese Pharmacopoeia thinks that it is acrid and bitter in flavor and cold in nature. And it covers meridians of liver and gall bladder. Its main function is clearing internal heat, improving eyesight, eliminating stagnation, and reducing swelling. Common prunella vulgaris uses and indications include painful red eye, sore eyeballs in the evening, headache, dizziness, scrofula, gall, acute mastitis, goiter, tuberculous lymphadenitis, breast hyperplasia, hypertension, and so on. Recommended prunella dosage is between 9 and 15 grams in decoction. And other available of form of this herb include pills, tea, capsules, extract, supplement,

1) Xia Ku Cao Tang from She Sheng Zhong Miao Fang (Marvelous Formulas for the Health of the Multitudes). It is decocted alone to be taken orally and externally to cure scrofula no matter it ruptures or not;

2) Bu Gan San from Jian Yao Ji Zhong Fang (Brief Prescriptions that Aid All People). It is coupled with Xiang Fu Zi (Cyperus rotundus rhizome) to treat liver deficiency caused painful eyeballs, constant tearing, sore tendons, and photophobia;

3) Xia Ku Cao San from the Zhang Shi Yi Tong (Comprehensive Medicine according to Master Zhang). It is combined with Xiang Fu (Cyperus) and Gan Cao (licorice root) to heal red eyes, headache, dizziness, and eyeball pain at night;

4) Xia Ku Cao Tang from Wai Ke Zheng Zong (True Lineage of External Medicine). It is joined with Bei Mu (Fritillaria Bulb), Cyperus, and more to treat scrofula due to pathogenic fire generated by liver depression and agglomeration of phlegm and fire;

5) Xia Ku Cao Gao from Yi Zong Jin Jian (Golden Mirror of Orthodox Medicine). It is in league with Kun Bu (Kombu), Xuan Shen (Ningpo Figwort Root), and others to cure gall;

6) Hua Du Dan from Qing Nang Mi Chuan (Esoteric Art of Healing). It is coupled with Jin Yin Hua (Honeysuckle Flower) to heal skin and external diseases caused by heat toxin.

Prunella vulgaris side effects and contraindications

The prunella-based herbal tea makes sense to most people. However, since it is cold in nature, it may do harm to those with poor gastrointestinal function or suffering from rheumatic diseases. Otherwise, it may worsen the condition and cause diarrhea. So, don’t drink it if you have a poor constitution.

In general small doses of prunella are safe. But long-term use of high doses will affect the health of liver, kidney, and other organs since it adds weight to the mentioned organs. In severe case it might lead to pain of liver and kidney.

Prunella vulgaris herb may cause some individuals allergic reactions, including nausea, vomiting, generalized itching, skin rash, and the like.

American Ginseng Root (Xi Yang Shen)

panax-quinquefoliumAmerican ginseng root, also known as Panax quinquefolium in pharmaceutical Latin and Xi Yang Shen in Pinyin, has long been viewed as a precious tonic with special therapeutic value. Although it shares the name of ginseng with Ren Shen (Panax Ginseng), they are not the same herb, physically and functionally. Clinically, it is widely used in improving or eliminating deficiency symptoms of body fluid and blood, which are typified by emaciation, red eyes and tinnitus, dry mouth and throat, fidget and thirst, weak breath, aching pain in knees and lower back, fever due to deficient Yin, impaired Yin caused by fever, chronic cough caused by lung deficiency, coughing up blood, and the like. Thanks for its slow but enduring pharmaceutical effect, it is a very popular tonic these days.

What is American ginseng root?

It usually refers to the root of Panax quinquefolium L., which is a species in the family Araliaceae. It is mainly found in the United States and Canada and now also cultivated in Beijing, Jilin, Liaoning and other places. The harvest usually starts in fall after it has been grown for 3 to 6 years. And medicinally it is used sliced and raw.

American ginseng plant is an herbaceous perennial with round or spindle-shaped taproot. The root surface is hairless, pale yellow or yellow-white, shiny, and with delicate striae. Texture is full and strong. Section is clean, presenting a clearer daisy pattern. Its slice has strong, choking, and sweet-bitter flavor.

Main chemical constituents

The root contains glycosides, mainly panaquilon, and others like volatile oils and resins. 6.4% to 7.3% are total saponins, which produce mainly panaxadiol and also panaxatriol and oleanolic acid after they are hydrolyzed. The species cultivated in Liaoning contain ginsenosides Rb1, Rb2, Rd, Re, Rf, Rg1, Rg2, Rg3, Rh1, RA0, R0, and possible Rc. In addition, it still contains daucosterol, oleanolic acid, and stigmast-3,5-diene-7-one. The cultivated one still contains volatile oils, fats, amino acids and trace elements. And about 32 kinds of ingredients have been identified in the volatile oil. Among them, the highest content is 26.05% β-farnesene, followed by 8.9% cetane and 7.89% β-gurjunene.

When it comes to the active ingredients, American ginseng has basically the same category with ginsenoside monomers, and even the sapogenins contained are exactly the same, namely oleanolic acid, panaxadiol and Panaxatriol.

Modern pharmacological actions

1) Anti-fatigue effect. Intraperitoneal injection of 60mg/kg panaquilon can extend the swimming time of mice;

2) Antidiuretic effect. Intraperitoneal injection of 60mg/kg panaquilon has anti-diuretic effect on rat;

3) Anti-anoxia ability. Intraperitoneal injection of 60mg/kg panaquilon can extend anoxic survival time of mice;

4) Anticonvulsant effect. Intraperitoneal injection of 60mg/kg panaquilon can reduce the mortality caused by pentylenetetrazol-induced convulsions and strychnine-induced seizures;

5) Others. Intragastric administration with American ginseng water extract (2g/ml) 0.5ml/each can promote blood clotting in the experiment of collecting blood by cutting the tail tip of each mouse. Intragastric administration with 60mg/kg panaquilon can reduce plasma ratio viscosity and increase erythrocyte membrane fluidity in experimental rat with blood stasis syndrome. The total saponins of American ginseng can inhibit collagen-induced platelet aggregation om rats, and IC50 is 1.012mg/ml.

Clinical use

American ginseng root nourishes Yin, tonifies Qi, calms spirit, improves brain power, removes heat to promote salivation, and relieves summer heat and pathogenic fire. As the old saying goes: “Thanks for the cool but tonic medicinal properties, American ginseng is the ideal alternative to panax ginseng when people need it but can’t afford its warm nature.” That’s to say, what makes American ginseng so special lies in its tonic nature that won’t easily cause dryness.

1) Strengthen cardiac muscle and enhance the activity of the heart;
2) Build strong central nervous system, calm mind, recover from fatigue, alleviate a hangover, enhance memory, and treat Alzheimer’s disease;
3) Modulate blood pressure and lead to a temporary or permanent fall of blood pressure;
4) Inhibit atherosclerosis and promote the growth of red blood cells to increase hemoglobin levels;
5) Regulate the secretion of insulin and therefore treat diabetes;
6) Regulate the secretion of adrenaline and enhance metabolism;
7) Increase strength and benefit athletes;
8) Inhibit the growth of cancer cell and increase immune function;
9) Help digest food and thus improve chronic gastritis and stomach weakness.

Panax quinquefolium and Panax Ginseng

Chinese Materia Medica believes that Panax quinquefolium is sweet and slightly bitter in flavor and cold in nature. It goes to meridians of lung, stomach, heart, and kidney. Primary function is boosting Qi, nourishing Yin, and clearing fire to promote the secretion of saliva or body fluid. Major American ginseng uses and indications include deficient Qi and Yin, excessive fire, coughing up blood tinged sputum, tiredness and fatigue caused by deficient heat, diabetes due to internal heat, and dry mouth and throat. Recommended American ginseng dosage is from 3 to 6 grams in decoction. Besides, it is often used in the forms of pills and powder.

Since both Panax quinquefolium and Panax Ginseng are good at benefiting the primordial Qi, they can be used to shortness of breath, tiredness, feeble pulse, and other syndromes caused by depleting Qi. However, the former’s bitterer and colder properties in combination with tonifying Yin function make it the better option in treating Qi-Yin exhaustion caused by heat illness; the latter has such a better depletion-rescuing ability that it works even though it is used alone.

Both of them can invigorate the Qi of spleen and lung, and treat the syndromes due to deficient Qi of spleen and lung. The former is often used in the treatment of the deficiency syndromes of Qi-Yin in spleen-lung; in comparison, the latter has stronger effect.

Both of them enhance Qi while nourishing fluid. As a result, they are commonly used for thirst due to body fluid impairment and diabetes. In addition, Panax Ginseng can still tonify the Qi of heart and kidney, soothe the nerves, and increase intelligence. Hence, it is also good for insomnia, forgetfulness, palpitation, and deficiency-type dyspnea due to kidney dysfunction in Qi holding.

American ginseng side effects and contraindications

1) Don’t drink strong tea while taking this herb because tea contains large amounts of tannic acid, which will destroy the active ingredients. If you are addicted to tea, you’d better resume your habit 2 to 3 days after American ginseng has been consumed. It is best not to drink coffee either since coffee has some impact to its effect;

2) Don’t take it along with radish. Ginseng tonifies Qi while radish drains Qi. That’s to say, these two types of foods are contradictory from a nutritional point of view. Moreover, they are of mutual restriction. If taken together, they will easily result in an allergic reaction or poisoning. From the pharmacology of traditional Chinese medicine, radish shouldn’t be eaten with many tonics. As a matter of fact, eating radish will also greatly aggravate the condition, e.g. a cold or blisters.

3) Be wary of adverse reactions. After taking it, some individuals may suffer from chills, decreased body temperature, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain and diarrhea. In some others, the symptoms include dysmenorrhea and delayed menstruation. Besides, to some it may cause an allergic reaction, which manifests sporadic, unequal-sized, and itching blisters on extremities. But blisters can be self-absorbed and then disappear after American ginseng has been stopped.

4) Chinese medicine thinks that this is a cold-natured herb, which should be used for boosting Qi and nourishing Yin. If your body suffers from heat syndromes, such as dry mouth, irritability, hot palm, red face, and chronic fatigue, the use of it makes sense and will nurse your body. On the contrary, if you have symptoms such as coughing up sputum, excessive saliva, or edema, don’t try to take it or it will make the condition worse. In addition, tonics are created to tonify deficiency. If your body is healthy enough, taking tonics could backfire. So, don’t take it when you feel good about yourself.

5) It is not good for eczema. So, take the seasonality into account when you are planning to take it. Since spring and summer is relatively dry, American ginseng root is a better choice. Apparently, Panax Ginseng or red ginseng is more suitable to be taken in autumn and winter.