From the point of view of TCM, Jing Da Ji generally refers to Euphorbia pekinensis Rupr. But more often than not it is mixed with another herb – Knoxia valerianoides Thorel et Pitard. People are apt to confuse these two similar herbs. But they are different, from property to clinical application. And this article is going to focus on the former one only.
What is Euphorbia?
Euphorbia is a genus in family Euphorbiaceae, including more than 2,160 kinds of different species. As a matter of fact, Euphorbia is one of evergreen species that can be found in many places of the world, especially in tropical and subtropical area in America and Africa. And sometimes it grows in temperate zone too.
In TCM it refers to the roots of Euphorbia pekinensis RUpr., a perennial herb produced mainly in Jiangsu, Sichuan, Jiangxi, Guangxi and other places in China. Usually it reaches 30 to 80 cm high. The whole euphorbia plant contains white sap. Slender roots are in conical shape. Stems are erect, branching on the top, and covered with white pubescence. Single leaf is alternate, almost sessile, oblong or lanceolate, 3 to 6cm long, 6 to 12mm wide, entire at margin, and slightly glaucous below. Medicinal Euphorbia is harvested in late fall or early spring. After that, remove the residual stems and fibrous roots, dry in the sun, and prepare with vinegar or use in the raw form.
Its root contains Euphorbon, alkaloids, Euphorbia A, B, C, gums, resins, etc. Fresh leaves contain vitamin C.
Euphorbia health benefits
Euphorbia pekinensis is a traditional Chinese herb, which was added in all versions of “Chinese Pharmacopoeia.” In other words, it cures diseases and saves lives. And now let’s see what health benefits it can give to human being, conventionally and contemporarily.
1. Its ether and hot water extract can stimulate the bowels and thus induce diarrhea;
2. This herb excites the isolated pregnant uterine;
3. This herb dilates capillaries and resists the pressor effect of adrenaline;
4. Animal experiments showed that the compatibility with licorice root will increase its toxicity.
Popular Euphorbia pekinensis related Chinese herbal formulas
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that Euphorbia pekinensis is bitter, cold, and poisonous in properties. And it covers three meridians, including lung, spleen, and kidney. Its primary functions are to drain water and remove retained fluid. Main Euphorbia uses and indications include tumescence due to edema, hydrothorax and ascites, accumulation of phlegm and retained fluid, dyspnea with cough caused by reverse Qi, and difficulty in urination and defecation. Usual dosage is from 1.5 to 3 grams.
Da Ji San
Da Ji San comes from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). In this formula it combines with Gan Jiang (Dried Ginger Root) to treat swelling in the whole body, gasping, and difficult urination.
Shi Zao Tang
Shi Zao Tang is from Shang Han Lun (On Cold Damage). This prescription is mainly formulated for retained fluid knotted inside and excess from both form and vital energy. Some possible diseases that belong to this syndrome are exudative pleurisy, cirrhosis, advanced schistosomiasis, nephritis edema, and more. Other main herbs include Yuan Hua (Genkwa Flower) and Gan Sui (Kan Sui Root).
Kong Xian Dan
Kong Xian Dan comes from San Yin Fang (Three Causes Formulary). This formula treats sudden dull pain in chest and back, hands and feet, neck, waist, and hip. The pain is so unbearable that it radiates to tendons and bones. And it may even lead to restlessness. Other major herbs are Gan Sui and Bai Jie Zi (White Mustard Seed).
Potential Euphorbia side effects and contraindications
The extract of Euphorbia (Jing Da Ji) tends to cause renal irritation. And overdose can cause throat swelling, congestion, vomiting, severe abdominal pain and diarrhea. In severe cases, it involves the central nervous system and then causes symptoms such as dizziness, coma, convulsions, dilated pupils, and even death due to the collapse and paralysis. China’s Materia medica recorded a lot about that Euphorbia and Licorice are contraindicated. As a matter of fact, these two herbs are one of the famous eighteen incompatibilities recorded. Animal experiments also showed that the mice, injected with ethanol extract of E. pekinensis and licorice or drenched orally with their decoction, died from increased toxicity of Euphorbia. Both the practice of ancient physicians and the exploration of modern scientific experiments have found that preparing Euphorbia with vinegar is the best way to reduce its toxicity. In addition, this herb should not be used during pregnancy and, once again, should not be used together with licorice root.