Bai Jiang Cao is also known as Patrinia, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Valerianaceae. It first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).
There are about 20 species of Patrinia, which are distributed in eastern and central Asia and northwestern North America. Their flowers are yellow or white.
The Bai Jiang Cao referred to herein is as a medicinal Patrinia scabiosaefolia or Patrinia villosa. They can also be used as animal feed and vegetables.
Patrinia scabiosaefolia is hardy and likes a slightly humid environment. It often grows on grass slopes and wasteland in mountainous areas with an altitude of 700-1,600 meters. It can be found in China, Russia, Mongolia, North Korea, and Japan.
Patrinia villosa is distributed in China and Japan. It often grows in forests, bushes, and grasslands at an altitude of 400-1,500 M.
In summer and autumn every year, people pick all the parts of Patrinia scabiosaefolia or Patrinia villosa, remove their impurities, wash them with water, cut them into segments, dry them in the sun or shade, and make them into Chinese herbs.
Fresh Patrinia is odorless, but dried Patrinia has a strong smell of putrid soy sauce. It contains quercetin, rutin, kaempferol, luteolin, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, β-daucosterol, pentacyclic triterpenes, iridoids, volatile oils, coumarins, organic acids, tannins, and polysaccharides.
According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal property of Bai Jiang Cao is slightly cold, with a pungent and bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the stomach, large intestine, and liver meridians.
In Chinese medicine, Bai Jiang Cao is often used to clear heat and remove toxin, expel carbuncles and pus, remove blood stasis and relieve pain, treat colds, influenza, mumps, acute suppurative tonsillitis, pneumonia, acute appendicitis, acute and chronic pelvic inflammation, acute pancreatitis, chronic colitis, perianal abscess, flat warts, Keshan disease, acute jaundice infectious hepatitis, hydronephrosis, and renal colic. It is an important component of Yi Yi Fu Zi Bai Jiang San.
Health benefits of Bai Jiang Cao
- Anti-inflammation, anti-virus, and anti-tumor.
- Anti-oxidation, scavenging lipid peroxides in the body, reducing the body’s peroxidation damage.
- Inhibiting the central nervous system and having a sedative effect.
- Inhibiting prostate hyperplasia induced by testosterone propionate.
- Promoting bile secretion and hepatocyte regeneration, preventing hepatocyte degeneration.
- Protecting the gastrointestinal mucosa, bidirectionally regulating the gastrointestinal tract, and relieving constipation and diarrhea.
- Treating intestinal abscess, relieving abdominal pain and constipation caused by an intestinal abscess.
- Eliminating thick phlegm and pus blood, treating lung abscess.
- Removing heat toxins, alleviating skin swelling and pain, treating carbuncles and sores caused by heat toxins.
- Treating flat warts, prickly heat, and suppurative dermatitis.
- Removing blood stasis and alleviating abdominal prickling caused by the postpartum blood stasis.
- Clearing liver heat, relieving redness and swelling of the eyes caused by liver heat.
- Treating diarrhea with blood and mucus caused by chronic bacterial dysentery or chronic allergic colitis.
- The ethanol extract of Patrinia scabiosaefolia can inhibit Salmonella, Shigella flexneri, and Staphylococcus aureus, but not Escherichia coli.
- The ethanol extract of Patrinia villosa can inhibit Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Proteus, and Bacillus subtilis.
- The sitz bath and fumigation with its decoction can treat perianal abscess, incarcerated hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal fistula, hemorrhoids bleeding, postoperative anal edema, and other anorectal diseases.
Bai Jiang Cao is used with other Chinese herbs
- It with Jin Yin Hua (Flos Lonicerae), Pu Gong Ying (Dandelion), Mu Dan Pi (Cortex Moutan), and Tao Ren (Semen Persicae) can relieve abdominal pain and constipation in the early stage of acute appendicitis.
- It with Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis) and Fu Zi (Aconitum Carmichaelii) can treat acute appendicitis during the purulent period.
- It with Yu Xing Cao (Houttuynia Cordata), Lu Gen (Rhizoma Phragmitis), and Jie Geng (Radix Platycodi) can treat expectoration of bloody pus and lung abscess.
- It with Jin Yin Hua (Flos Lonicerae) and Lian Qiao (Fructus Forsythiae) can alleviate skin swelling and pain, eliminate carbuncles and sores caused by heat toxins.
- It with Wu Ling Zhi (Faeces Trogopterori), Xiang Fu (Rhizoma Cyperi), and Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis) can alleviate abdominal prickling caused by the postpartum blood stasis.
Side effects of Bai Jiang Cao
Although its tender leaves are often used as edible vegetables in some cities in China, there are also reports of its adverse effects.
Individual patients taking Patrinia scabiosaefolia may cause dry mouth, anorexia, vomiting, or stomach upset.
Excessive use of it may cause temporary leukopenia, dizziness, or nausea.
After using Patrinia villosa injection in 134 patients with acute bacterial inflammation, leucopenia occurred in 3 patients. Leukocytes returned to normal about 1 week after drug withdrawal.
Precautions of Bai Jiang Cao
- The dosage of Bai Jiang Cao should be controlled at 6-15g.
- It can be made into decoction, injection, or mashed for external use.
- People with weakness of spleen and stomach should not take it.
- People with a loss of appetite or loose stools should not take it.
- Pregnant women and children should not take it.