Sweet Autumn Clematis (Wei Ling Xian)

wei-ling-xianSweet autumn clematis, also called Clematis terniflora DC., Clematis paniculata Thunb. or Wei Ling Xian in Pinyin, is one of the most commonly used Chinese medicines. Root is the major part that is used for medicinal purpose. Thanks for being a natural herb with impressive healing power for a number of diseases, in particular joint disease, it is known to so many herbalists, even to those with little or no medical background. It could be the possible solution to your ailments like gallstones, heel spurs, heel pain, or even esophageal cancer. However, pay attention not to use it when you are of blood deficiency or during pregnancy.

What is sweet autumn clematis?

Clematis terniflora, a member in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, is native to Asia. Although deemed as an invasive species in a few areas, this vigorous woody vine has been cultivated in parts of North America mainly for landscaping purpose. Its pinnately compound leaves are opposite. White flowers usually open in September and attract many bees because of its sweet fragrance. By the way, it is commonly known as leatherleaf clematis too in some locations.

In China its dried root, namely Radix Clematidi in Pharmaceutical Latin, has long been used as a wind-damp expelling drug. Besides of clematis terniflora, many other species in the same genus are also considered with the same medicinal uses. They include Clematis chinensis Osbeck, Clematis hexapetala Pall., Clematis manshurica Rupr., C. meyeniana Walp., C. florida Thunb., C. uncinata Champ ex Benth., C. lasiandra Maxim., C. finetiana Levl. et Vant., and so on. Among them, the c. chinensis, mainly produced in Jiangsu, Anhui, and Zhejiang, is the most widely used species. Its root is normally dug out in fall. Next, the dirt should be removed before it is dried in the sun. Medicinally it is used cut and raw.

Main chemical constituents of its root are oleanolic acid and hederagenin.

Clematis terniflora health benefits

Rheumatism is a common disease that will bring the sufferers nothing but pain. As one of main ingredients in Chinese herbal medicine for rheumatic disease, it works fast and efficiently. So, how was it found with this amazing healing power? In fact, this is a legend every generation tells the next. In ancient times, there was a person who couldn’t walk for more than 10 years because of suffering from rheumatism. He had been visited by many good doctors and none of them could help. His family was being forced to carry him to the street to try his luck. Fortunately, a monk came across and told him that there was an herb that could be the cure. It turned out that a few days after the medication this person was able to walk again. Now you may have already known what herb was used above. Ever since then it is widely used medicinally.

From the point of view of TCM, it is good at treating Bi syndrome, which refers to the main clinical sign of rheumatic fever, rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, fibrositis, ankylosing spondylitis, gout, osteoarthritis, etc. The reason it works in the treatment of migratory arthralgia and wandering limb, joint pain is that it is cursorial in nature and with stronger ability of activating meridians to stop pain.

Modern pharmacological actions of clematis root

1) It has analgesic, anti-diuretic, antimalarial, blood sugar lowering, blood pressure lowering, and cholagogic effects;
2) Protoanemonin has a strong inhibitory effect on Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria and fungi;
3) Its decoction can enhance the amplitude and frequency of esophageal peristalsis, and thus lead to the relaxation of intestinal smooth muscle;
4) Its vinegar solution has a certain softening effect on the fishbone. In addition, it relaxes the smooth muscle of the pharynx and esophagus, enhances peristalsis, and therefore helps remove a fishbone stuck in the throat;
5) Its alcohol extract can induce labor.

Sample clematis terniflora recipes on herbal remedies

The “Chinese Materia Medica” believes that it is bitter, acrid in flavor and neutral and poisonous in nature. It goes to meridians of urinary bladder and liver. Basic functions are dispelling wind and eliminating dampness, removing toxicity for detumescence, and cooling blood to stop bleeding. Main sweet autumn clematis uses and indications include rheumatism pain, acute and chronic skin inflammation of infection, swelling, sores, fistula, pharyngitis, snake bites, dog bite, hemoptysis, and metrorrhagia and metrostaxis. Recommended decoction dosage is from 6 to 9 grams or even 30 grams in the treatment of bone stuck in the throat.

1) Wei Ling Xian San from Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (Taiping Holy Prescriptions for Universal Relief). It is soaked in the wine for 7 days and ground into powder to treat chronic pain in lower back and legs;

2) Hua Tie San from Pu Ji Fang (Prescriptions of Universal Relief). It is coupled with Chu Shi Zi (papermulberry fruit) to cure a lump in the abdomen;

3) Wei Ling Xian Wan from You Ke Zhi Zhang (Full Knowledge of Pediatrics). It is made into pills and then cooked with pork to heal abdominal lumps of children;

4) Ling Xian San from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It is combined with Ji Guan Hua (cockscomb), vinegar, and egg white to make small cake for the treatment of severe hemorrhoidal hemorrhage;

5) Wei Ling Xian San from Yong Ju Shen Mi Yan Fang (Mysterious Prescriptions for Carbuncle and Cubcutaneous Ulcer). It is matched with Bei Mu (Fritillaria Bulb) and Zhi Mu (Anemarrhena Rhizome) to cure perianal abscesses.

Clinical research of radix clematidis

Clematis decoction, injection, and ointment have a good effect on treating osteoarthritis, heel pain syndrome, and hypertrophy of vertebral bodies of neck, chest, and waist. Besides, it is still used orally for chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, esophagitis, acute tonsillitis, viral hepatitis, hiccups, urinary stones, chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, filariasis, elephantiasis of the lower limb, pharyngitis, mumps, tuberculosis of cervical lymph nodes, pediatric balanitis, hydrocele of tunica vaginalis in children, and so on.

a) 120 cases of cholelithiasis have been treated with 60g of its decoction. And the total efficiency was 87%;

b) 35 cases of viral hepatitis have been treated with the decoction of clematis and Gan Cao (licorice root). And the total efficiency was 91%;

c) 30 cases of acute mastitis have been treated with decoction of 63g fresh Clematis root. The severe patients took an extra dose the next day. And all of them were cured;

d) Multiple cases of acute mastitis have been treated by applying paste of clematis powder mixed with vinegar to the breast. And all of the patients were healed in generally 1 to 3 days.

Sweet autumn clematis side effects and contraindications

It may occasionally lead to allergic reactions. This is because protoanemonin can be easily aggregated into Anemonin, which is the toxic ingredient in sweet autumn clematis. As a result, overdose of this herb may cause poisoning.


a) He Nan Zhong Yi (Henan Traditional Chinese Medicine), 1987; 6:22;
b) Fu Jian Yao Wu Zhi (Manual of Materia Medica of Fujian), 1979:106;
c) Xin Yi Yao Xue Za Zhi (New Journal of Medicine and Herbology), 1977; 4:40;
d) Zhe Jiang Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Zhejiang Journal of Chinese Medicine), 1984; 1:39.

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