Kochia Scoparia grass is generally considered as one of noxious and invasive weeds. Thanks to its hardiness, it is often found in the wilderness, on roadsides, at the edge of paddy field, and around the house. And it is edible and generally used as one of fodder plants for deer and any other livestock. More than that, Kochia scoparia fruit, also known as Di Fu Zi in TCM, is one common Chinese herbal medicine that is widely used for various complaints, in particular the allergic itching and rubella. So, what is it and what health benefits does this amazing weed have? Read on to find out more.
Kochia scoparia description
Kochia has a number of different common names, such as Belvedere, Mexican fireweed, Broom Cyprus, Mock cypress, and Summer Cypress. In TCM it means Kochia scoparia (L.) Schrad, a grass in Chenopodiaceae or Goosefoot Family. And its main medicinal part is the dried ripe fruits, which are usually harvested in autumn when they are ripe. Before the uses, fruits need to be dried in the sun and the impurities removed. In China, this plant, wild or cultivated, distributes mainly in Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu, Gansu and other places.
Its plant is one of annual bushes, about 50 to 150cm in height. Stems are erect, branched, green or red in autumn, and with young branches with white pubescence. Leaves are alternate, sessile, narrowly lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 1 to 7cm, 1 to 7mm wide, with acuminate apex, cuneate base, entire margin, green glabrous top surface, pale green lower surface with or without pubescence. Small yellow-green flowers, one or several, are axillary and form into spikes. Utricle is oblate, with persistent perianth on base and 1 black oblate seed. It blooms from July to September and fruits from August to October.
Main chemical constituents are triterpenoid saponins, 15% Kochia scoparia oil, and vitamin A. Green parts contain alkaloids. Fruits contains oleanolic acid, 3-O-[β-D-xylopyranosyl(1→3）β-D-glucuronopy- ranoxyl]-oleanolic acid, 3-O-[β-D-xylopyranosyl（1→3）β-D-methylglucuronopyranoxylate]oleanolic acid, 3-O-[β-D-xylopyranosyl（1→3）β-D-glucuronopyranosyl] oleanolic acid－28－O-β-D－glucopyranoside, n-triacontanol, saturated fatty acid mixtures, flavonoids, and volatile oil.
Kochia scoparia medicinal uses
As mentioned, Kochia is commonly used for some minor ailments in many Chinese folk recipes due to it’s economic and easy to get. As a matter of fact, it is able to give even more health benefits, which have been verified by modern pharmacology.
Modern pharmacological actions
1. Antifungal effect. Kochia water extract, in the ratio of 1:3, in vitro has varying degrees of inhibition to a variety of dermatophytes such as Trichophyton schoenleinii, nocardia asteroids, and so on.
2. Diuretic effect. Rabbits received Kochia decoction (2 g/kg) by intragastric administration showed that chloride in the urine increased by 127.1% to 131.6% within 6 hours, but the total amount of urine remained unchanged. And it was reported that this herb affected both urine volume and urinary sodium excretion in rats.
Proven Kochia related herbal remedies
In accordance with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Kochia herb is viewed as acrid, bitter, and cold in properties. And it covers kidney and bladder meridians. Its main functions are clearing heat and promoting diuresis and dispelling wind and arresting itching. And Kochia scoparia uses include difficult urination, stranguria with turbid discharge, gynaecological diseases, bloody flux, rubella, eczema, scabies, pruritus, sores, and so on. Recommended dosage is from 6 to 15 grams. As for external use, take appropriate amount to decoct for fuming and washing.
Di Fu Zi Tang
This formula comes from Ji sheng fang (Formulas to Aid the Living). It is mainly formulated for stranguria. Other major herbal ingredients include Mu Tong (Akebia Caulis), Qu Mai (Dianthus), Dong Kui Zi (Musk Mallow Seeds), and so on.
Xuan Yang Tang
This formula is from Yi Xue Zhong Zhong Can Xi Lu (Records of Heart-Felt Experiences in Medicine with Reference to the West). It is primarily designed for difficult urination due to lack of Yang Qi. Other key herbs are Wei Ling Xian (Clematis Root), Mai Men Dong (Ophiopogon Tuber), and more.
Ji Yin Tang
This prescription is from Records of Heart-Felt Experiences in Medicine with Reference to the West. It is basically used for difficult urination due to deficiency of Yin and blood depletion. The rest of herbs are Shu Di Huang (Rehmannia), Gui Ban (Fresh Water Turtle Shell), and Hang Bai Shao (Hangzhou White Peony Root).
Di Fu Zi San
This prescription comes from Tai ping sheng hui fang (Taiping Holy Prescriptions for Universal Relief). It is principally used for blurred vision caused by liver deficiency. The other herb is Rehmannia.
Di Fu Zi Wan
This formula, combing with Jue Ming Zi (Foetid Cassia Seeds), is chosen from Guang Ji Fang (Prescriptions for Extensive Aid). It is prevailingly used for night blindness.
Kochia scoparia toxicity, side effects and contraindications
As of this writing, there is no data on Kochia toxicity and side effects. TCM wise Di Fu Zi herb contradicts Hai Piao Xiao (Cuttlefish Bone). So, please keep in mind to avoid Cuttlefish Bone when you come up with a formula containing this herb.