What Is Ku Shen (Sophora Root or Radix Sophorae Flavescentis)

Ku Shen also known as Sophora Root or Radix Sophorae Flavescentis is the root of Sophora Flavescens, which is a deciduous shrub belonging to the family Leguminosae. It has a medicinal history of more than 2,000 years.

This plant often grows on hillsides, grass slopes, or shrubs below 1,500 meters above sea level. It can be found in Russia, Japan, India, North Korea, and China. Its seeds can be made into pesticides, and its bark can be made into sacks.

In spring and autumn each year, people gather the roots of Sophora Flavescens, remove their fibrous roots and root tips, wash them with water, cut them into pieces, dry them in the sun, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Ku Shen mainly contains alkaloids such as matrine, oxymatrine, isomatrine, sophocarpine, isosopho- carpine, sophoramine, oxysophocarpine. It also contains flavonoids, lignans, triterpenoid saponins, phenolic acids, and phenylpropanoids. Ku Shen with an extremely bitter taste and yellow-white cross-section is the best.

According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal property of Ku Shen is relatively cold, with a bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of heart, liver, stomach, large intestine and bladder meridians.

In Chinese medicine, Ku Shen is often used to clear heat and dry dampness, kill worms, promote urination, treat acute bacterial dysentery, mycotic enteritis, chronic ulcerative colitis, esophagitis, tonsillitis, cervicitis, pelvic inflammation, vaginitis, neurodermatitis, scald, gonorrhea, arrhythmia, insomnia, and asthma.

There are more than 100 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing Ku Shen, such as Ku Shen Tang, Xiao Feng San, Hua Zhi Pian, and Danggui Kushen Wan.

Health benefits of Ku Shen

  • Anti-inflammation, anti-fungus, anti-allergen, and anti-tumor.
  • Inhibiting the central nervous system and having analgesic and anticonvulsant effects.
  • Increasing the number of white blood cells, relieving asthma, and eliminating phlegm.
  • Protecting the liver and inhibiting liver fibrosis and myocardial fibrosis.
  • Inhibiting the heart, slowing heart rate, and weakening myocardial contractility.
  • Increasing coronary blood flow, protecting ischemic myocardium, and lowering blood pressure.
  • A small dose of matrine can enhance immunity, but a large dose of matrine can suppress immunity.
  • Clearing damp-heat in the large intestine and treating diarrhea, hematochezia, and jaundice caused by damp-heat.
  • Treating genital swelling and itching, abnormal leucorrhea caused by damp-heat.
  • Relieving skin itching and treating eczema, rubella, and scabies.
  • Promoting urination and treating difficult urination, burning sensation during urination, and urinary pain caused by damp-heat.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus haemolyticus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus agalactiae, Escherichia coli, Proteus, Aerobacter, Salmonella cholerae, Salmonella pullorum, Clostridium wilfordii type B, Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Pseudomonas alkalogenes, Pseudomonas putida, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Helicobacter pylori.
  • The study found that the injection of Ku Shen can antagonize arrhythmia induced by aconitine.

Ku Shen is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It with Liu Huang (Sulfur) and Ku Fan (Dried Alum) can treat scabies.
  • It with Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae) can treat hematochezia and hemorrhoid bleeding caused by damp-heat.
  • It with She Chuang Zi (Fructus Cnidii) and Huang Bai (Cortex Phellodendri) can relieve itching and treat eczema.
  • It with Shi Wei (Folium Pyrrosiae), Che Qian Zi (Semen Plantaginis), and Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae) can promote urination, treating difficult urination, burning sensation during urination, and urinary pain caused by damp-heat.
  • It with Yu Zhu (Rhizoma Polygonati Odorati), Zhi Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae Preparata), Wu Wei Zi (Fructus Schisandrae), Dan Shen (Red sage), and Shan Zha (Hawthorn Fruit) can treat viral myocarditis.

Side effects of Ku Shen

Taking it for a long time may cause liver, kidney, lung or brain damage.

Excessive use of it may cause poisoning reactions such as dizziness, headache, restlessness, numbness of the limbs, increased urination, shortness of breath, or rapid heartbeat.

A small number of people taking it may cause stomach pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or loss of appetite.

Precautions of Ku Shen

  • The dosage of Ku Shen should be controlled at 3-10g.
  • It can be made into an oral decoction or be used to soak and wash the affected part.
  • It should not be taken with a drug containing Li Lu (Veratrum Nigrum).
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.
  • People with deficiency-cold in spleen and stomach should not take it.
  • People with polyuria should not take it.

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