Lumbricus (Di Long)

EarthwormsYou should be familiar with Lumbricus if you are a fishing enthusiast. As a matter of fact, it is a genus rather than a specific earth worm species. That’s being said, it refers to many different earthworms, among which the most common species include Lumbricus rubellus, Lumbricus castaneus, Lumbricus terrestris, Lumbricus festivus, and Lumbricus badensis. As everyone knows, this animal lives in the soil, loosens the soil, improves the fertile, and promotes agricultural production. However, you may not know the fact that earthworm is also a Chinese herb, which is better known as Di Long and widely used in plenty of Chinese herbal remedies. So, what is Lumbricus medicinally?

Lumbricus description

First don’t mistaken it as Geosaurus just because they share the same name of Dilong in Chinese. Instead in TCM it means the dried body of Lumbricus kwangtungensis from Guangdong and Guangxi and Lumbricus nativus mainly from Qinghai, Qinghai, Henan, Shandong, and Shanxi. In addition, the former refers to Pheretima asiatica Michaelsen in the family Megascolecidae, which is generally considered of better quality. The latter comes in many varieties but Allolobophora caliginosa trapezoides are most common, and others include Pheretima vulgaris Chen, Pheretima guillelmi (Michaelsen), and Pheretima pectinifera Michaelsen.

Pheretima asiatica Michaelsen is in the shape of flaky elongated strip, twisted, 10 to 20cm in length, 1 to 2cm in width. Head and tail remains the original shape – slightly pointed front and blunt end. The whole body surface is with dense segments, among which the light-color segment between 14 to 16 segments is often called “white neck”. Back is brown or gray-red and belly is yellow brown. It is fishy, slightly salty, lightweight, brittle, easily broken, with thick wall and white section.

Main chemical constituents of Pheretima asiatica Michaelsen and Allolobophora caliginosa trapezoides include hemolysis ingredient of lumbritin, antipyretic ingredient of lumbrofebin, toxic ingredient of terrestro-lumbrilysin, hypoxanthine, xanthine, adenine, guanine, guanidine, choline, alanine, valine, leucine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, lysine, and other amino acids.

Lumbricus health benefits

Lumbricus is one of important Chinese herbs, which is initially mentioned in Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica), the earliest Chinese pharmacy monograph, which recorded only 67 kinds of medicinal ingredients from animals. There this herb was classified into low-grade category.

Modern pharmacological actions

1. Its decoction and lumbrofebin have excellent antipyretic antipyretic effect;
2. Both its hot water extract and alcohol extract have sedative, anticonvulsant effect on mice and rabbits;
3. Pheretima hypoxanthine has a significant role on bronchial relaxation and antagonizes the bronchial contraction induced by histamine and pilocarpine;
4. Pheretima products, including tinctures, powder injectable suspension, hot water extract, decoction, etc., have slow and long-lasting antihypertensive effect;
5. Lumbricus extract exact has fibrinolytic and anticoagulant effect;
6. In addition, it also enhances immunity, fights against tumor, antagonizes bacteria, promotes diuresis, and excites uterine and intestinal smooth muscle.

Proven Lumbricus related herbal remedies

Lumbricus herb is considered as salty in taste and cold in properties from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It covers three meridians, including liver, spleen, and bladder. Its basic functions include clearing heat, arresting convulsion, dredging collaterals, relieving asthma, and inducing diuresis. Key Lumbricus uses and indications are coma due to high fever, convulsions caused by epilepsy, arthralgia, numbness of limb, hemiplegia, lung-heat induced panting and cough, edema due to oliguria, and high blood pressure. Recommended dosage is from 4.5 to 9 grams.

Bu Yang Huan Wu Tang

Bu Yang Huan Wu Tang comes from Yi Lin Gai Cuo (Correcting the Errors in the Forest of Medicine). This formula is mainly designed for post stroke symptoms, such as Qi deficiency, stagnation of blood, blocked channels and collaterals, hemiplegia, facial paralysis, and so on. Other key herbal ingredients include Huang Qi (Astragalus), Dang Gui (Dong Quai), Chuan Xiong (Ligusticum), and so on.

Xiao Huo Luo Dan

Xiao Huo Luo Dan comes from Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Formulas of the Peaceful Benevolent Dispensary). This is a formula that is mainly used for wind-cold-dampness type of arthralgia, numbness in limbs and joints, sharp pain, inhibited bending and stretching, and so on. Other major herbs are Chuan Wu (Radix Aconiti Carmichaeli), Cao Wu (Radix Aconiti kusnezoffi), Dan Nan Xing (Jack in the Pulpit Rhizome and Bile), Ru Xiang (Frankincense), and so on.

Di Long San

This formula comes from Lan Shi Mi Cang (Secret Library of the Orchid Room). It is primarily formulated for lumbar pain or traumatic injury and stuffy nose. The rest herbs include Dong Quai, Ma Huang (Ephedra), Huang Bai (Phellodendron), Tao Ren (Peach Seeds), and more.

Tian Ma Di Long Wan

This prescription is from Ji feng pu ji fang (Jifeng’s Formularies for universal relief). It is basically used for the attack of barbiers, manifested as swollen pain legs and hot purple flesh. The rest herbs are Tian Ma (Gastrodia), Qiang Huo (Notopterygium), Mo Yao (Myrrh), and more.

Di Long Wan

This formula is from Pu Ji Fang (Prescriptions of Universal Relief). It is exclusively designed for all syndromes due to fierce wind pathogen such as sores. Other key herbs include Quan Xie (Scorpion), She Tui (Periostracum Serpentis), Xiang Fu (Cyperus), Fang Feng (Ledebouriella Root), and more.

Potential Lumbricus side effects and contraindications

Conventional dose of Lumbricus herb has pretty low toxicity. However, overdose may cause toxic symptoms, including headache, dizziness, rise-fall blood pressure, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Lumbricus intramuscular injections may lead to allergic reactions, manifested as numb lips, rash, pale complexion, sweating, difficulty breathing, and drop of blood pressure. TCM wise, this herb is inadvisable in the cases of Yang-qi deficiency, spleen-stomach deficiency, dyspnea and tachypnea due to kidney deficiency, and tendon and vessel malnutrition due to blood deficiency.

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