As a rule, medicinally vines and the like are commonly believed to enter collaterals and dredge meridians in the eyes of traditional Chinese doctors. Kadsura vine, or better known as Hai Feng Teng in mandarin, is no exception. In addition, Star Jasmine Stem (Luo Shi Teng) and Ovientvine Caulis Sinomenii (Qing Feng Teng) are another two good candidates. These three herbs are often combined together for treating wind-cold-damp induced joint pain and tendon spasm. However, they are from different sources and come with different properties and medicinal uses. As far as kadsura vines are concerned, it mainly grows in forests at lower elevation and often climbs in trees and rocks.
What is kadsura vine?
It refers to the dried stem of Piper kadsura (Choisy) Ohwi, a vine plant in the family Piperaceae. But please don’t mistake it for Kadsura japonica, which is native to Japan. As a result, it is also commonly known as kadsura stem, caulis piperis futokadsurae, futokadsura stem, caulis piperis kadsurae, and piper futokadsura stem. It is mainly produced in Guangdong, Fujian and Taiwan. For the sake of better healing power, it is regularly harvested during summer and autumn. After the harvest in done, remove its leaves and root, dry it in the sun, cut into thick slices, and use raw.
Its plant is woody climber. Stems have vertical edges, covered with sparse hair when they are young, and with roots at nodes. Leaves are nearly leathery, ovate or ovate-oblong, 6 to 12cm long, 3.5 to 7cm wide, and with white glandular dots, short pointed or obtuse tip, and cordate base. Unisexual, dioecious flowers gather into the spikes, which are opposite to leaves. Berry is spherical, brown, and 3 to 4mm in diameter. Blooming period is from May to August.
Main chemical constituents are futoxide, futoenone, futoquinol, futoamide, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol and volatile oil.
Kadsura vine health benefits
As what mentioned before, this is a great Chinese herb for a series of sickness, in particular stiff joints, muscle cramp, and so on. And no matter used in fresh or dried vines, their efficacies are equally remarkable. That is truly an indispensable addition to TCM doctors’ medicine kit. And now let’s check out its pharmacological actions.
Modern kadsura stem pharmacology
1. It can antagonize endotoxin shock;
2. It can increase myocardial blood flow and reduce the collateral vascular resistance in myocardial ischemia areas;
3. It can reduce excitatory amino acids in brainstem ischemia areas and thus protect from brainstem ischemia injury;
4. It can significantly reduce the implantation rate of mouse’s embryonic egg;
5. Its Ketone compounds have antioxidant effect, antagonize the thrombosis, and prolong the clotting time;
6. Its phenolic and alcohol compounds prevent blood platelet aggregation.
Ancient herbal remedies on futokadsura stem
Chinese Materia Medica says that this herb is acrid and bitter in flavor and slightly warm in nature. And it goes to two meridians of heart and kidney. Essential functions of it include expelling wind-damp, pass the meridians, regulating vital energy, and relieving pain. Primary kadsura vine uses and indications are wind-cold-damp type of arthralgia, limbs and joint pain, tendon and vessel spasm, epigastric and abdominal cold pain, and edema. Recommended dosage is from 6 to 15 grams in decoction or soaked in wine.
1. Qu Feng Gu Tong Lu. Qu Feng Gu Tong Lu comes from Zhe Jiang Sheng Yi Yao Biao Zhun (Zhejiang Pharmaceutical Standards). This formula is generally made for wind-heat type common cold, headache, hot eyes, sore throat, cough with lung heat, and thirst and sweating. Other major herbal ingredients include Ji Xue Teng (Millettia Vine), Wei Ling Xian (Clematis Root), Wu Jia Pi (Acanthopanax Root Bark), Han Fang Ji (Stephania Root), and more.
2. Juan Bi Tang. Juan Bi Tang is from Yi Xue Xin Wu (Understanding of Medical Science). This is a common prescription used for wind-cold-damp arthralgia, cramping of sinews and muscles, pains in limbs and joints, and inconvenient flexing and stretching. Besides of Hai Feng Teng, other important herbs include Qiang Huo (Notopterygium Root), Du Huo (Angelica Root), Gui Xin (Cinnamomi Cortex), Dang Gui (Dong Quai), and so on.
Kadsura vine side effects and contraindications
Kadsura vine is considered non-toxic if taken in the conventional dose of decoction. And no clearly recognized adverse reactions and drug interactions were ever reported even in long-term use of high doses (less than 30g). From TCM’s perspective, use this herb with care in the case of fire excess from yin deficiency.