What Is Quan Shen (Rhizoma Bistortae)

Quan Shen also known as Rhizoma Bistortae is the rhizome of Polygonum bistorta, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Polygonaceae. It first appeared in <Ben Cao Tu Jing> (Illustrated Canon of Herbology) in 1,061 AD.

This plant is cold-resistant and drought-tolerant and likes a cool climate. It often grows on hillsides or grasslands at an altitude of 800-3,000 meters. It can be found in China, Japan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Siberia and the Far East of Russia, and Europe.

In spring and autumn each year, people gather the rhizomes of Polygonum bistorta, wash them with water, remove their impurities and fibrous roots, cut them into pieces, dry them in the sun, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Quan Shen contains tannins, starch, gums, resins, gallic acid, ellagic acid, catechol, epicatechol, chlorogenic acid, succinic acid, quercetin, caffeic acid, protocatechuic acid, hyperoside, anthraquinone derivatives, rutin, flavones, and glucose. Generally, Quan Shen with purple-brown or purple-black outer epidermis and brown-red or light brown-red cross-section is the best.

According to <Ben Cao Tu Jing>, the medicinal property of Quan Shen is slightly cold, with a bitter and astringent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung, liver, and large meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Quan Shen is often used to clear heat and remove toxin, cool blood and stop bleeding, calm the liver and stop the endogenous wind, treat enteritis, hepatitis, stomatitis, pharyngolaryngitis, tuberculosis, chronic tracheitis, gastric and duodenal bulbar ulcers, hemorrhoids, burns, snake bites, tetanus, hematemesis, epistaxis, uterine bleeding, edema, psoriasis, bacillary dysentery. It is an important component of Fu Fang Da Qing Ye He Ji.

Health benefits of Quan Shen

  • Anti-inflammation, anti-mutation, and anti-tumor.
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging DPPH radical and ABTS radical.
  • Inhibiting the central nervous system and having analgesic and sedative effects.
  • Enhancing the phagocytic capacity of macrophages, promoting the proliferation of T lymphocytes, and improving immunity.
  • Inhibiting arrhythmia caused by chloroform, aconitine, or calcium chloride.
  • Dilating blood vessels, increasing coronary flow, and slowing heart rate.
  • Draining dampness, promoting urination, and relieving edema.
  • Calming the liver and stopping endogenous wind, relieving epilepsies, and spasms caused by tetanus.
  • Treating high fever and unconsciousness caused by febrile diseases.
  • Clearing damp-heat in the large intestine, treating diarrhea caused by damp-heat.
  • Cooling blood, relieving hematemesis, nose bleeding, uterine bleeding, hemorrhoids bleeding caused by blood heat,.
  • The topical application of its decoction can treat furuncles, carbuncles, lymphatic tuberculosis, hemorrhoids, burns, venomous snake bites.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus subtilis, Proteus, Aerobacter aerogenes, Escherichia coli, dysentery bacillus, Meningococcus, and hemolytic streptococcus.
  • The study found that its n-butanol extract can prevent myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury, retinal ischemia-reperfusion injury, and myocardial hypertrophy.

Quan Shen is used with other Chinese herbs

Clinical studies have confirmed that it can be combined with some corresponding drugs to treat a variety of cancers, such as nasopharyngeal cancer, rectal cancer, cervical cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, head and neck malignancies.

Side effects of Quan Shen

Quan Shen has been used clinically for many years, with few side effects.

Precautions of Quan Shen

  • The dosage of Quan Shen should be controlled between 4.5-9g.
  • It can be made into an oral decoction or be used to soak and wash the affected part.
  • It should not be used to treat suppurative osteomyelitis, tuberculosis of bone and joint, and shoulder gangrene.
  • People without syndromes of excess heat should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.