Cang Er Zi is also called Fructus Xanthii and is the mature fruit of Xanthium, which is an annual herb belonging to the family Asteraceae. It has been used as a medicine for more than 200 BC.
The involucre of Xanthium has hook-shaped hard spines, which are often attached to domestic animals and human bodies, and it is easy to reproduce and be planted. Xanthium can be found in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Japan.
The main ingredients of Cang Er Zi are strumaroside, xanthanol, Isoxanthanol, resins, fatty oils, alkaloids, vitamin C, pigments, β-sitosterol, and brassicasterol. It can be made into hardened oils and lubricants. Some paints, inks, linoleum, and soap contain cocklebur oil.
After the fruits of Xanthium mature each autumn, people pick their fruits, dry them in the sun, and make them into Chinese herbs. The best Cang Er Zi is plump and has a brownish yellow color.
According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal property of Cang Er Zi is relatively warm, with a slight toxicity. Its taste is spicy, bitter and sweet. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung meridian.
In Chinese medicine, Cang Er Zi is often used to treat rhinitis, sinusitis, cold, and joint pain.
There are about 100 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine formulas containing Cang Er Zi, such as Bi Min Gan Wan, Bi Yan Wan, and Cang Er San.
Health benefits of Cang Er Zi
- Anti-oxidation, anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, and anti-pathogen.
- Reducing heart rate, weakening the contractility of the heart, and lowering blood pressure.
- Promoting or inhibiting respiratory function, antitussive.
- Relieving toothache, forehead pain, waist and leg pain, limb spasms.
- Treating rubella, eczema, leprosy, urticaria, typhoid fever, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Treating rhinitis, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, pain in the sinus area, and olfactory decline.
- Treating nasal congestion, runny nose, and headache caused by wind-cold. Its antipyretic effect is not obvious.
- Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus B, Pneumococcus, and some fungi.
- The study found that Cang Er Zi has a hypoglycemic effect.
Cang Er Zi is used with other Chinese herbs
- Cang Er Zi with Jin Yin Hua (Flos Lonicerae), Ban Lan Gen (Radix Isatidis), and Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae) can treat mumps.
- Cang Er Zi with Bo He (Mentha), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), and Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae) can treat rhinitis and paranasal sinusitis.
- Cang Er Zi with Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae) and Xin Yi Hua (Flos Magnoliae) can treat nasal congestion, runny nose, and headache caused by wind-cold.
- Cang Er Zi with Cang Zhu (Black Atractylodes Rhizome) and Huang Bai (Cortex Phellodendri) can treat rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, and joint spasm.
- Cang Er Zi with Shi Gao (Gypsum) and Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae) can treat acute sinusitis, fever, and runny nose.
Side effects of Cang Er Zi
Cang Er Zi contains toxic protein. Excessive use of it may cause toxic hepatitis and arrhythmia, and in severe cases, it may cause circulatory failure, respiratory failure, acute renal failure, and other symptoms.
A small number of people taking it may cause nausea, vomiting, upper abdominal discomfort, abdominal pain, diarrhea, jaundice, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Precautions of Cang Er Zi
- Cang Er Zi is generally not used alone. When using it, stir-fry it to remove the hard thorns on its surface.
- The dosage of Cang Er Zi should be controlled at 3-10g.
- It can be made into a decoction or ground into a powder to make pills.
- It has an immunosuppressive effect and will reduce immunity.
- It should not be used to treat headaches caused by the deficiency of blood or qi.
- Pregnant women and children should not take it.