When it comes to siegesbeckia herb, also known as Herba Siegesbeckiae in pharmaceutical Latin and Xi Xian Cao in Pinyin, very few people might know something about it since it is quite unattractive and unpleasant. Actually its Chinese name, literally “Pig Pungent Weed”, says it all. According to Li Shizhen, it got a name like this due to its pig-like smell and pungent taste. However, this unlovely weed has long been found with amazing medicinal properties for rheumatalgia. In addition, today modern researchers also found that it improves immunity and lowers blood pressure. But the health benefits of siegesbeckia weed don’t end here and apparently it is capable of more than what the world thinks it is not. So, now let’s get to know more about this Chinese herb.
What is siegesbeckia?
It is a genus of Asteraceae and owns a few annual plants. When it is used as medicine, it actually means the dried aerial part of Siegesbeckia orientalis L., Siegesbeckia pubescens Makino, or Siegesbeckia glabrescens Makino. In China they are primarily produced in Hunan, Hubei, and Jiangsu. The best reaping time is summer and autumn before and during the blossom. Before used raw or steamed with Shaoxing wine, the impurities should be remove and they should be dried. And the high-quality one is with many leaves, thick gray-green stem, buds, and no roots and impurities.
Siegesbeckia orientalis is an annual herb, up to 1 meter or more. The upper part of branches, especially the inflorescence branches, is covered with purple-brown, capitate, and long-handle trichomes and white, long pubescence. Leaves are opposite and blade is thin, short-haired both sides, and with white long pubescence along the veins. Capitulum is 2 to 3 cm in diameter, many, and arranged in corymbose. Achene is about 3.5mm. Flowering times is from August to October and the fruiting time from September to December. Habitats are wood edge, forest, wilderness, and roadside.
It mainly contains terpenes and glycosides, such as Darutoside, Darutogenol, Isodarutogenol, Stigmasterol, Orientin, Orientalide, and so on.
It is native to Southeast Asia and adapts to hot, humid environments. So, medicinally what is siegesbeckia used for? Actually its medicinal history can be dated back to the Tang Dynasty, about 1,000 years ago. Then it was formally recorded in Xin Xiu Ben Cao (Newly Compiled Materia Medica) as a medicine mainly for eliminating wind-damp. And long before a few hundreds of years, the sap secreted by siegesbeckia leaves has been used by the ancient Chinese people to treat rheumatism. In recent years, it was found with an active ingredient that has aspirin-like structure. Currently, its calming and soothing effect are being used by the field of beauty.
Clinically siegesbeckia plant and Chou Wu Tong (Folium Clerodendri Trichotomi) are capable of treating rheumatism, rubella, eczema, urticaria, and pruritus. As a result, they are commonly used in pair to treat many ailments. However, they have their own advantage respectively. Siegesbeckia is still good at treating physical challenges like paralysis that commonly occur after stroke since it can get rid of wind-damp between the bones and muscles; Folium Clerodendri Trichotomi also treats dizziness and headache since it tranquilizes liver Yang.
Modern pharmacological actions
1) It is anti-inflammatory and analgesic;
2) It is antihypertensive;
3) It inhibits cellular immunity, humoral immunity and nonspecific immunity;
4) It can enhance T cell proliferation, promote the activity of IL-2, inhibit IL-1 activity, and improve local pathological reactions by adjusting the body’s immune function to slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis;
5) It can dilate blood vessels;
6) It significantly inhibits thrombosis;
7) It has a strong inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus aureus;
8) It has a certain inhibitory effect on Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella sonnei, Salmonella typhi, staphylococcus albus, Neisseria catarrhalis, Salmonella Enteritidis, plasmodium yoelii, and the like;
9) It has moderate inhibition on herpes simplex virus;
10) It can excite the uterus and has obvious anti-pregnancy effect.
Sample siegesbeckia recipes on herbal remedies
The Chinese Pharmacopoeia says that it is acrid and bitter in flavor and cold in nature. It goes to meridians of liver and kidney. Basic functions are expelling wind-damp, lubricating joint, and detoxifying. Primary siegesbeckia uses and indications include rheumatism, weak bones and tendons, weakness and pain in the low back and knees, quadriplegia, paraplegia, rubella, and eczema. Recommended dosage is from 9 to 12 grams in decoction. And it is still available in the forms of siegesbeckia orientalis extract, cream, tea, and so on.
1) Xi Xian San from Huo Ren Fang Hui Bian (Collection of Life-saving Prescriptions). It is made into honey pills through complicated process to treat numbness in limbs, waist and knee pain, and more due to pathogenic wind, cold, and dampness;
2) Xi Tong Wan from Yang Sheng Jing Yan He Ji (The Compilation of Regimen). It is coupled with Folium Clerodendri Trichotomi to cure sore feet or hands;
3) Huo Song Wan from Shi Yi De Xiao Fang (Effective Formulas from Generations of Physicians). It is used alone to heal diarrhea due to wind running in the stomach;
4) Shou Wu Yan Shou Dan from Shi Bu Zhai Yi Shu (Medical Works of the Shibu Studio). It is combined with He Shou Wu (Polygonum Multiflorum), Nu Zhen Zi (Chinese Privet), Han Lian Cao (Eclipta Alba), Tu Si Zi (Dodder Seed), Du Zhong (Eucommia Bark), etc. to treat Yin-blood deficiency induced weak lower back and knees, dizziness, dim eyesight, tinnitus, insomnia, and premature graying.
Siegesbeckia side effects and contraindications
Siegesbeckia herb is non-toxic and causes no apparent discomfort if it is taken orally in the conventional dose of decoction. But overdose may lead to adverse reactions like nausea and loose stool. Li Shizhen pointed out that the alleged small toxicity was referred to as the gastrointestinal discomfort caused by overdose. So, when it is used in high doses, other stomach-harmonizing herbs should be added in in order to reduce stomach discomfort. TCM wise, it shouldn’t be taken by patients who are diagnosed with deficiency of blood and Yin.