Evergreen wisteria, or known as Millettia reticulata in scientific name and Ji Xue Teng in Chinese name, is a prestigious emmenagogue in herbal remedies. What makes this herb special is that its stem contains one kind of unique substance that is unavailable in other legumes. When it is cut off, its xylem will immediately bleed out bright red sap that resembles chicken blood, which is also the exact reason why it is being called “Ji Xue Teng” (literally chicken blood vine). Millettia is being used for a variety of purposes. In garden and backyard, as a non-invasive plant it is used for covering an archway or trellis for providing shade. In this regard it is similar to Chinese wisteria but with a more gorgeous wine colored blooms. Actually it is more popular as it is usually semi-evergreen in winter and blossoms in late summer. Besides of being an ornamental plant, the medicinal uses of its stems and root are immeasurable, especially for relieving stagnant qi, invigorate the circulation of blood, and relaxing tendons and activating collaterals. By the way, Chinese evergreen wisteria is not truly a wisteria sinensis. Instead, it is a species in Millettia though it looks like and is named like a wisteria.
What is evergreen wisteria?
Medicinally it mainly refers to the dry stems of Millettia reticulata Benth., a vine plant in the family Leguminosae. But what calls for your special attention is that in China there are many varieties share the name Ji Xue Teng and the same medicinal properties, including Spatholobus suberectus Dunn, Millettia dielsiana Harms ex Diels., Millettia nitida Bent., Mucuna sempervirens Hemsl., Mucuna birdwoodiana Tutch., Sargentodoxa cuneata （Oliv.）Rehd. et Wils., and so on. It is regularly collected during autumn and winter, branches and leaves removed, sliced, and dried in the sun.
Evergreen wisteria tree is a cold-hardy evergreen climbing shrub. Branches and leaves are glabrous. Pinnately compound leaf is alternate, ovate-elliptic or oblong, 3 to 10cm long, with 7 to 9 leaflets, apex with blunt tip and a small sinus, nearly round base, and small stipules. Flowers, gathering into racemes, are dark purple and with glabrous petals and bloom during May to August. Pods are elongated and glabrous. Fruits ripen from October to November. It is mainly distributed in the southwest China and Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Hubei, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Taiwan and other places. Habitats are brushwood, mountains and plains, and grass land.
Main chemical constituents are flavonoids, including 7-hydmxy-8, 4′-dimeetoxyisoflavone, afrormosin or 7-hydroxy-6, 4′-dimethoxyisoflavone.
Evergreen wisteria health benefits
Irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea and other menstrual symptoms are the nightmare to a lot of women. But they don’t have to suffer them in silence since there are many herbs like millettia reticulata they can rely on. As one of common traditional Chinese medicine that has an emmenagogue effect, it is widely used for a variety of menses and period problems. One distinct characteristic tells evergreen wisteria vine apart from other regulating-menses herbs is the fact that it contains the substance that looks like chicken blood, which is rich in many nutrients and thus helps improve health. Now it is mainly used for inducing or hastening blood flow, promoting the generation of blood cells, replenishing blood, preventing inflammation, and killing germs. As a result, it can regulate irregular menstruation and thus increase the odds of getting pregnant in women. More than that, it applies equally to men as it can also improve sperm quality. Is it too good to be true? And let’s take a look at its pharmacology to find more relevant information.
Modern pharmacological actions of Millettia reticulata
1. Its preparation in water extraction and alcohol precipitation can increase the blood flow of femoral artery to a certain extent in experimental animal, reduce vascular resistance, and significantly inhibit the platelet aggregation;
2. Its water decoction can reduce cholesterol in animal and significantly fight against atherosclerotic lesions;
3. Its water extracts and tinctures have significant anti-inflammatory effect and two-way adjustment function to the immune system;
4. Its tincture has some sedative and hypnotic effects;
5. Its injection or intragastric administration has significant anti-pregnancy effect in mice;
6. It is still capable of promoting the total phosphorus metabolism in mice’s kidney and 24-hour total phosphorus metabolism in mouse uterus.
Selected Millettia reticulata herbal remedies
The Chinese Materia Medica considers that it is bitter and slightly sweet in flavor and warm in medicinal properties. Main functions are promoting blood circulation, relaxing tendons, and nourishing blood for regulating menstruation. Basic uses and indications are numbness of the extremities, limb paralysis, arthralgia due to wind and dampness, menoxenia, dysmenorrhea, and amenorrhea. Recommended dosage is from 10 to 15 grams, or even to 30 in large doses in decoction or soaked wine.
1. Ji Xue Teng Tang. From Zhong Yi Lin Chuang Ying Yong (TCM clinical application), this formula is primarily used for the treatment of rheumatism. Other herbal ingredients include Ban Feng He (Semiliquidambar cathayensis), Dang Gui (Dong Quai), Niu Xi (Achyranthes), Hai Feng Teng (Kadsura Vine), and so on.
2. Ji Xue Teng Qu Feng Huo Luo Tie. From Cixi Guangxu Yi Fang Xuan Yi (Medical prescriptions written for Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu with commentary), this recipe is formulated for dispelling the wind to activate collaterals.
Evergreen wisteria side effects and contraindications
Is evergreen wisteria poisonous? Actually this herb is considered safe to most people. That’s to say, it has minimal side effects under appropriate amount. But the dose should be paid attention to when you take it. Overdose tends to lead to get inflamed. At the same time, people with special physique, for example fire excess from yin deficiency, shouldn’t take it as it may aggravate the condition. In addition, it should also be avoided by special groups, such as pregnant women and diabetics. By the way, it won’t gain weight either.