Gan Sui (Radix Kansui or Kansui Root)

Gan Sui also known as Radix Kansui or Kansui Root is the tuberous root of Euphorbia kansui, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae. It is a well-known traditional Chinese medicine with a medicinal history of over 2,000 years.

This plant often grows on low mountain slopes, barren slopes, sandy land, fields, or roadsides. It is endemic to China and is distributed in Gansu, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Henan, and Qinghai. It has now been cultivated artificially.

In the early spring and late autumn of each year, people gather the tuberous roots of Euphorbia kansui, remove their outer skin and impurities, dry them, use them directly, or stir-fry them with vinegar, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Gan Sui contains ingenol-3-(2, 4-decadienoate)-20-acetate, kansuiphorin C, kansuinin A, kansuinin B, kansuinin C, kansuinin D, kansuinin E, kansuinin J, euphol, tirucallol, kansenonol, kansenone, epikansenone, 11-oxo-kansenonol, kansenol, kansuinone, β-sitosterol, stigmast-5-ene-3β, 7β-diol, isoscopletin, palmitic acid, oxalic acid, tannins, resins, glucose, sucrose, starch, and vitamin B1.

According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal property of Gan Sui is relatively cold, with toxicity and a bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung, kidney, and large intestine meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Gan Sui is often used to remove water retention, alleviate swelling and dissipate indurated mass, treat difficulty in urination and defecation, skin ulcers and abscesses, acute pancreatitis, asthma, ascites, pertussis, intestinal obstruction, chronic bronchitis, epilepsy, tuberculous exudative pleurisy, hydrocele in children, rheumatoid arthritis, erythema multiforme, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, and cancerous melanoma.

There are about 30 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing Gan Sui, such as Gansui Banxia Tang, Shi Zao Tang, and Da Huang Gan Sui Tang.

Health benefits of Gan Sui

  • Inhibiting influenza virus, chicken Newcastle disease virus, human immunodeficiency virus.
  • Inhibiting the growth of HepG2 cells, human epithelioid liver cancer BEL-7402 cells, and MCF-7 breast cancer cells.
  • Killing Culex pipiens larvae, Aedes albopictus larvae, nematodes, and Japanese termites.
  • Inhibiting the activity of topoisomerase II and cell division.
  • Anti-oxidation, enhancing the activity of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, and inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
  • Stimulating the intestines, promoting bowel movements, and inducing excretion.
  • Promoting the excretion of retained water, treating tympanites, pleural effusion, ascites, and systemic edema.
  • Alleviating constipation and dysuria and treating lower abdominal bloating in women.
  • Eliminating phlegm and treating epilepsy caused by wind-phlegm.
  • Alleviating swelling and dissipating indurated mass, treating skin sores and abscesses.
  • Its crude extract can inhibit delayed allergic reactions induced by sheep red blood cells. The research shows that it has a suppressive effect on the immune system.
  • Studies have found that intraperitoneal or intramuscular injection of its ethanol extract into pregnant guinea pigs can induce labor.

Gan Sui is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It with Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei) and Mang Xiao (Natrii Sulfas) can treat tuberculous exudative pleurisy.
  • It with Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei) and E Jiao (Colla Corii Asini) gelatin can alleviate dysuria and lower abdominal bloating in women.
  • It with Chan Su (Venenum Bufonis), Sha Ren (Fructus Amomi), Mu Xiang (Radix Aucklandiae), Ji Nei Jin (Endothelium Corneum Gigeriae Galli), and Shan Zha (Hawthorn Fruit) can treat ascites caused by liver cirrhosis.
  • It with Jing Da Ji (Radix Euphorbiae Pekinensis), Yuan Hua (Genkwa Flos), and Da Zao (Fructus Jujubae) can treat pleural effusion, ascites, and systemic edema caused by exudative meningitis, tuberculous pleurisy, liver cirrhosis, or chronic nephritis.
  • It with Ban Xia (Pinellia Rhizome), Bai Shao (White Peony Root), and Zhi Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae Preparata) can treat pleurisy, chronic diarrhea, and pericardial effusion.

Side effects of Gan Sui

Gan Sui is poisonous, and its incidence of clinical toxicity reactions is relatively high.

Continuous intravenous administration for one week can cause toxic damage to the heart, liver, and kidney.

It has a strong stimulating effect on the skin and mucous membranes. Taking it may cause inflammation such as mucosal hyperemia, edema, or erosion.

Excessive use of it may cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, watery stool, tenesmus, vomiting, dizziness, or headache.

In severe cases, it can cause rice soup-like stool, palpitations, drop in blood pressure, dehydration, difficulty breathing, weak pulse, drop in body temperature, delirium, cyanosis, respiratory failure, or death.

Precautions of Gan Sui

  • The dosage of Gan Sui should be controlled at 0.5-1g.
  • It can be made into decoction, pills, powders, or ground for external use.
  • Stir-frying it with vinegar can weaken its toxicity and cathartic effect.
  • It should not be used with Gan Cao (Licorice Root) or Yuan Zhi (Radix Polygalae).
  • Weak people should not take it.
  • Pregnant women should not take it.