Di Gu Pi (Cortex Lycii or Lycium Bark)

Di Gu Pi also known as Cortex Lycii or Lycium Bark is the root bark of Lycium chinense or Lycium barbarum, which is a deciduous shrub belonging to the family Solanaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum are important economic plants in northern China. They are also called Chinese boxthorn, Chinese matrimony-vine, or Chinese wolfberry.

These two plants often grow on hillsides, wasteland, hilly land, saline land, or roadsides. Lycium chinense is distributed in China, North Korea, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Lycium barbarum is native to China and is now distributed in Asia and Southeastern Europe. Their fruits can be made into herbal tea, alcohol extracts, dietary supplements, which is called Gou Qi Zi (Fructus Lycii).

In the early spring and late autumn of each year, people gather the roots of Lycium chinense or Lycium barbarum, wash them with water, peel off their root bark, remove their impurities, dry them, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Di Gu Pi contains kukoamine A, kukoamine B, lyciumamide, Lyciumin A、B、C、D, scopolamine, atropine, fagopyrin, betaine, choline, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, melissic acid, cinnamic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, vanillin, isovanillin, scoparone, scopoletin, scopolin, fabiatrin, anthraquinones, β-sitosterol, cryptojaponol, calcium oxalate, and taurine.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Di Gu Pi is relatively cold, with a sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung, liver, and kidney meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Di Gu Pi is often used to clear heat and cool blood, purge fire and promote fluid production, to treat hot flashes, cough, whooping cough, asthma, hemoptysis, epistaxis, toothache, diabetes, purulent ulcer, essential hypertension, dermatitis, urticaria, drug eruption, allergic purpura, and contact dermatitis.

There are about 50 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Xie Bai San, Qin Jiao Bie Jia San, and Kunbao Wan.

Health benefits of Di Gu Pi

  • Anti-inflammation, anti-virus, and anti-fertility.
  • Scavenging superoxide free radicals, inhibiting tyrosinase activity, removing freckles and whitening.
  • Promote wound healing, treating burns and scalds.
  • Increasing the pain threshold, reducing physical and chemical pain.
  • Inhibiting the activities of angiotensin I convertase and angiotensinogenase, slowing down heart rate, and lowering blood pressure.
  • Lowering blood sugar and blood lipids, antagonizing the increase in blood sugar caused by alloxan, epinephrine, or glucose.
  • Decreasing the increase of IL-2 caused by azathioprine, increasing the decrease of IL-2 caused by cyclophosphamide, and regulating immunity.
  • Clearing asthenic fever of liver and kidney, relieving night sweats, hot flashes with emaciation, and fever caused by yin deficiency.
  • Clearing the lung and purging fire, treating cough and asthma caused by the stagnation of lung fire.
  • Cooling blood, treating hemoptysis, epistaxis, and urine blood caused by blood heat.
  • Promoting fluid production, treating high blood sugar, urine sugar, thirst, fatigue caused by internal heat.
  • Inhibiting type A hemolytic streptococcus, pneumococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, typhoid bacillus, paratyphoid bacillus A, and Shigella flexneri.
  • Studies have found that its injection has an effect similar to that of pituitrin and can excite the uterus.

Di Gu Pi is used with other Chinese herbs

Side effects of Di Gu Pi

Clinically, there are reports of arrhythmia caused by taking it.

Excessive use of it may cause vomiting, limb weakness, fatigue, or rapid breathing.

Precautions of Di Gu Pi

  • The dosage of Di Gu Pi should be controlled at 9-15g.
  • It can be made into decoction, pills, powders, injections.
  • It is not recommended to use iron utensils to boil it.
  • It should not be used to treat fever caused by wind-cold.
  • People with loose stools due to spleen deficiency should not take it.