Euphorbia Kansui (Gan Sui)

Euphorbia RootIn homeopathy there is no lack of special remedies that treat the malignant disease with poisonous agents. For instance, Euphorbia Kansui (Gan Sui), Euphorbia pekinensis (Jing Da Ji), and Flos Genkwa (Yuan Hua) are the best three examples. Kan Sui, one of China’s endemic plants has been commonly used as drastic purgatives long ago. However, it often irritates to skin, gastrointestinal mucosa, liver, kidney, and so on because of its high toxicity. As a result, it is the last herb people want to use even though they can be saved perhaps. Fortunately, ancient herbalists found that jujube can tame its violent nature and reduce its toxicity to a certain degree. In other words, it is the jujube fruit that helped to make Kansui what it is.

What is Euphorbia Kansui?

Also known as Euphorbia root, Radix Kansui, and radix Euphorbiae Kansui, medicinally it refers to the dried roots of Euphorbia kansui T.N.Liou ex T.P.Wang, one of plant that belongs to family Euphorbiaceae. It is usually harvested before the flowering in spring or after the wilting of stems and leaves in autumn. And then it needs to remove skin, dry in the sun. And usually it is used raw or processed with rice vinegar. This herb is mainly distributed in mainland China, including Gansu, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Henan and other places. Habitats include low hills, slopes, sand, edge of paddy field, roadsides, etc. Today this wild plant is domesticated and most of the commercial items are mainly from cultivation.

Its plant is a succulent perennial herb, 25 to 40cm high and the whole plant contains milk. Roots are slender and slightly curved, but some are like a chain of pearls, bar, or elongated oval. Skin is tan. Stems are erect and light purple red. Leaves are alternate, narrow lanceolate or linear-lanceolate, 3 to 5cm long, 6 to 10mm wide, and with obtuse apex, broadly cuneate base, and entire margin. Cyathium is arranged in cymose, usually 5 to 9 clustered at the stem end. Flowers are unisexual and without perianth. Capsule is round. Seeds are ovoid and brown. Flowering is from June to September.

Euphorbia Kansui health benefits

Main chemical constituents of Euphorbia root are triterpenoids, which contain α-euphorbol, γ-euphorbol, kanzuiol or 20-epieuphol, 20-deoxyingenol, 20-deoxyingenol-3-benzoate, and so on. In addition, it still contains palmitic acid, citric acid, oxalic acid, tannins, resins, glucose, sucrose, starch, vitamin B1 and so on.

Modern pharmacology of Euphorbia root

1. It can stimulate the intestine, increase bowel movements, and then cause severe diarrhea;
2. Raw Euphorbia Kansui has stronger efficacy and higher toxicity, which can be reduced after processed with vinegar;
3. Its ethanol extract can induce labor in pregnant guinea pigs by either intraperitoneal or intramuscular injection;
4. Its crude preparation can significantly inhibit mice’s immune system;
5. Kansuinine A and B contained have anti-leukemia effect.

Proven Kansui herbal remedies

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believes that Kan Sui is bitter in taste and cold and toxic in properties. It covers meridians of spleen, lung, kidney, bladder, large intestine, and small intestine. Primary functions are purgating excessive fluid and relaxing the bowels. Main Euphorbia Kansui uses and indications include edema, ascites, accumulation of pathogens in chest, epilepsy, cough, dysuria and constipation, and more. Recommended kansui dosage is from 0.5 to 1 gram in teapills or powder.

1. Er Qi Tang. Er Qi Tang, Gan Sui combining with Qian Niu Zi (Morning Glory Seed), comes from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). This formula is mainly used for all edema, abdominal distention, fluid retention in chest and hypochondrium. But the prerequisite is the patient’s vital qi is still undiminished.

2. Shi Zao Tang. Shi Zao Tang is from Shang Han Lun (On Cold Damage). This prescription is basically formulated for pleural effusion. The other two herbal ingredients are Euphorbia pekinensis and Flos Genkwa.

3. Da Huang Gan Sui Tang. Da Huang Gan Sui Tang comes from Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Coffer). It is principally designed for women’s fullness in the lower abdomen, slight difficult urination, and no thirst. The rest two herbs include Da Huang (Rhubarb) and E Jiao (Donkey-Hide Gelatin).

4. Sui Xin Dan. Sui Xin Dan, Gan Sui coupling with Zhu Sha (Cinnabar), can be used for wind-phlegm epilepsia.

Potential Euphorbia Kansui side effects and contraindications

Euphorbia Kansui has a relatively strong toxicity. Continuous intravenous administration for 7 straight days can lead to toxic histological changes to heart, liver and kidney. Its injection has strong hemolysis. Overdose can cause symptom of poisoning, such as abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, watery stools, tenesmus, and so on. And large dose can result in thin-gruel stool, accompanied with nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, palpitations, blood pressure decline, dehydration, difficulty breathing, weak pulse, decreased body temperature, delirium, cyanosis and other symptoms. In severe cases, it may lead to death due to respiratory and circulatory failure. TCM wise, Gan Sui should not be used during pregnancy and in cases of qi deficiency, impairment of yin, spleen-stomach deficiency. What’s more, it is incompatible with Gan Cao (Licorice Root).

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