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.

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