Qian Jin Zi (Semen Euphorbiae Lathyridis)

Qian Jin Zi commonly known as Semen Euphorbiae Lathyridis, Caper Euphorbia Seed, or Caper Euphorbia Seed is the ripe seed of Euphorbia lathyris, which is an erect biennial (occasionally annual) herb belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae. It first appeared in <Shu ben cao> (Materia Medica of Sichuan) around 935AD-960AD.

Euphorbia lathyris is commonly known as caper spurge, paper spurge, gopher spurge, gopher plant, or mole plant and is widely cultivated for traditional medicine use. It is sold by some nurseries as it is believed to repel moles. In folk medicine, it is used to treat warts and sores.

This plant likes a light and warm environment and often grows in paddy fields or low-humidity dry fields. It is native to southern Europe (Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal), northwest Africa, and eastward through southwest Asia to western China.

In the summer and autumn of each year, people pick the ripe fruits of Euphorbia lathyris, remove their impurities, wash them with water, dry them, take out their seeds, process them, and make them into Qian Jin Zi Shuang (Semen Euphorbiae Pulveratum).

Qian Jin Zi contains euphobia factor L1~L11, lathyrol, euphobiasteroid, ingenol, lathyranoic acid A, euphorbia lathyris A, α-euphoubol, γ-euphol, lupeol, fernenol, 4-taraxasterol, taraxerol, β-amyrin, taraxerone, lupenone, cycloarterol, lanosterol, 24-methylene cycloartanol, sitosterol, daucosterol, aesculetin, euphorbetin, isoeuphorbetin, daphnetin, artemetin,vitexicarpin, kaempferol-3-glucuronide, quercetin-3-glucuronide, volatile oils, oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, aurantiamide acetate, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, 20-hexadecanoylingenol, 2,3-dihydroxy propyl icosanoate, and 2,3-dihydroxy propyl oleate.

According to <Kaibao Bencao>, the medicinal property of Qian Jin Zi is relatively warm, with toxicity and a pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver, kidney, and large intestine meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Qian Jin Zi is often used to remove water retention, promote blood circulation and remove blood stasis, treat phlegm-retention disease, infantile malnutrition, abdominal distension, amenorrhea, stubborn ringworm, scabies, advanced schistosomiasis ascites, anuria, constipation, facial paralysis, esophagus cancer, eosinophilia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, pediatric epilepsy, prostate enlargement, urinary tract infection, and snakebite. It is an important component of Xu Sui Zi Wan and Zi Jin Ding.

Health benefits of Qian Jin Zi

  • Anti-inflammatory, sedative, analgesic, and hypnotic effects.
  • Inhibiting the expression of P-glycoprotein in tumor cells and reducing the multidrug resistance of tumor cells.
  • Stimulating the intestines and stomach, promoting bowel movement, and inducing diarrhea.
  • Increasing urine output, reducing uric acid production, and promoting uric acid excretion.
  • Removing water retention, treating tympanites, anuria, and constipation caused by edema.
  • Promoting blood circulation, eliminating abdominal masses caused by blood stagnation, and treating amenorrhea caused by blood stasis.
  • Treating skin ulcers, scabies, stubborn ringworm, and snake bites.
  • Reducing the activity of tyrosine kinase, inhibiting the conversion of tyrosine into melanin, and treating melasma, freckles, and chromatopathy.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of human cervical cancer cells Hela, human erythroleukemia cells K562, human monocytic leukemia cells U937, human acute lymphocytic leukemia cells HL60, and human liver cancer cells HeG2.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Shigella flexneri, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Qian Jin Zi is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It with Fang Ji (Stephania root), Bing Lang (Semen Arecae), Ting Li Zi (Semen Lepidii), and Sang Bai Pi (Cortex Mori) can treat dysuria and constipation.
  • It with Qing Fen (Calomel) and Qing Dai (Indigo Naturalis) can eliminate abdominal masses caused by blood stagnation.
  • It with Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), and Hong Hua (Flos Carthami) can treat amenorrhea caused by blood stasis.
  • It with Shan Ci Gu (Pseudobulbus Cremastrae seu Pleiones), Pang Xie (Chinese Mitten Crab), Bai Jiang Cao (Patrinia), and Xian He Cao (Agrimonia Pilosa) can alleviate bladder cancer.
  • It with Shan Ci Gu (Pseudobulbus Cremastrae seu Pleiones), Wu Bei Zi (Galla Chinensis), Hong Da Ji (Knoxia Root), She Xiang (Moschus), Zhu Sha (Cinnabaris), and Xiong Huang (Realgar) can treat epidemic encephalomyelitis, mumps, herpes zoster, and chronic pharyngitis.

Side effects of Qian Jin Zi

Qian Jin Zi is toxic to the central nervous system. Clinically, taking more or mistakenly taking it may cause poisoning.

Studies have confirmed that its toxic ingredients are euphobiasteroid and 20-hexadecanoylingenol.

euphobiasteroid has a strong stimulating effect on the gastrointestinal tract and can induce diarrhea. The intensity of its effect is three times that of castor oil.

The effect of 20-hexadecanoylingenol is similar to that of croton oil. It has been reported that 20-hexadecanoylingenol can induce tumors.

Overdose of it may cause dizziness, headache, nausea, salivation, severe vomiting, lassitude, abdominal pain, diarrhea, palpitations, cold sweats, or pale complexion.

In severe cases, it can cause rapid heart rate, drop in blood pressure, persistent sweating, cold limbs, respiratory failure, or death.

Precautions of Qian Jin Zi

  • The dosage of Qian Jin Zi should be controlled at 1-2g.
  • According to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, Qian Jin Zi must be used after degreasing or processed.
  • It can be made into pills or powder or mashed for external use.
  • Children, pregnant women, and lactating women should not take it.
  • People with weakness or loose stools should not take it.