Cibotium Barometz (Gou Ji)

Chain Fern RhizomeRegarded as one in Guangdong’s top ten Southern medicines, Cibotium barometz, or Gou Ji in mandarin, is a Chinese herb that has been commonly used for so many ailments, in particular low back pain, for so long. This herb has not only ornamental but high medicinal value. It is named Gou Ji herb or Jinmao Gouji, literally translated as golden hair dog back, due to its root looks like dog’s back and comes with golden wool. Main habitats include both sides of gutter at the foot of a hill and shade and moist places under forests. Medicinally it is primarily produced in Fujian, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guangxi and other places.

What is Cibotium barometz?

Medicinally it means the dried rhizomes of Cibotium barometz (L.) J. SM, a tropical and subtropical plant in the fern family Dicksoniaceae. Or sometimes it also refers to the dry root of Woodwardia japonica (L.f.) Sm. in the family Blechnaceae. Hence, it has a variety of common names, such as oriental chain fern root, chain fern rhizome, rhizoma Cibotii, Rhizoma Cibotii Barometz, Cibotium barometz rhizome, east Asian tree fern rhizome, woolly fern, cibot rhizome, rhizoma cibotium barometz, Rhizome of Scythian Lamb, Rhizome of East Asian Tree Fern, woodwardia japonica, golden chicken fern, and so on. The best harvesting time is autumn and winter. After the excavation, remove the dirt and dry, or remove the hard root, petiole and golden hair, cut into thick slices, and then dry in the sun. This is the so called “raw rhizoma cibotii slice”. Correspondingly, the cooked one need to be steamed, dried in the sun to 60% or 70%, cut into thick slices, and then completely dried once again.

Oriental chain fern, as its name suggested, is one of perennial tree ferns. It can be up to 2.5 to 3 meters. Rhizome is recumbent or erect sometimes, short and stout, woody, and densely covered with brown villous that comes with golden luster. Leaves are numerous, large, and grow thickly into calyptriform. Petiole is stout, brown, and densely covered with villous and yellow narrow lanceolate scales at base. Oval lamina, 3 pinnatifid, can reach up to 2 meters. Sori are born in the top edge of the lateral veins, slightly oblong, 2 to 12 pieces on each lobe, and with brown lips-shaped lateral fissure of indusia.

Main chemical constituents include pterosin R, onitin, (onitin-2′-O-β-D-glucoside, onitin-2′-O-β-D-alloside, ptaquiloside, pterosin Z, and so on.

Cibotium barometz health benefits

When it comes to herbs for lumbago, it always invites comparison with another commonly used Chinese herb – Eucommia Bark (Du Zhong). However, they differ from each other by acting on various parts. Simply put, the former is good at treating pain in the middle of the waist while the latter on both sides of the waist. And the following explanation based on its pharmacology may help further understand this amazing herb.

Modern pharmacological actions of rhizoma cibotii

1. 100% its injection showed no significant change to the rate of myocardial uptake of Rb86 in mice by intraperitoneal injection of 30g/kg. But it showed a significant increase by 54% in the case of continuous intraperitoneal injection of 20g/kg for 14 days;

2. Its wool demonstrated better hemostatic effects.

Popular Chain fern rhizome herbal remedies

TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) tends to think that it is bitter and sweet in flavor and warm in properties. And it goes to meridians of liver, kidney, heart, and bladder. Basic functions are removing wind and dampness, toning up waist and feet, and lubricating joint. Prime cibotium barometz uses and indications are kidney deficiency-induced lumbago and stiff back, weak and feeble feet and knee, pain in rheumatoid arthritis, frequent urination, spermatorrhea, leukorrhagia, and more. Clinically recommended dosage is from 10 to 15 grams in decoction or soaked in wine.

1. Go Ji Wan. This prescription comes from Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (Taiping Holy Prescriptions for Universal Relief). It benefits feet and knee and commonly used for five kinds of lumbago. Other two herbal ingredients are Bi Xie (dioscorea root) and Tu Si Zi (Chinese Dodder Seeds).

2. Si Bao Dan. Si Bao Dan comes from Pu Ji Fang (Prescriptions of Universal Relief). It is basically formulated for all wind-induced syndromes such as wandering arthritis and hemiplegia in both men and women. Other three herbs are dioscorea root, Su Mu Jie (Sappan Wood Joint), and Wu Tou (Radix Aconiti Carmichaeli).

3. Bai Lian Wan. Bai Lian Wan is from Prescriptions of Universal Relief. It is mainly designed for leukorrhagia and thin leucorrhea due to cold and deficiency of Chong and Ren Channels. Other two herbs are Lu Rong (Elk/Deer Horn) and Bai Lian (Radix Ampelopsis).

4. Gou Ji Juice (Yin). Gou Ji Juice is from Grand Dictionary of Chinese Medicine. It is primarily used for liver-kidney deficiency accompanied with low back pain and stiff back. Other key herbs are Eucommia Bark, Xu Duan (Japanese Teasel Root), Hai Feng Teng (Kadsura Stem), and so on.

Cibotium barometz side effects and contraindications

Cibotium barometz rhizome finds no known toxicity, adverse reactions, or drug interactions for the time being. But from the perspective of TCM, use it with care in cases of kidney deficiency accompanied with heat and inhibited urination or scanty dark urine.

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