What Is Shan Ci Gu (Pseudobulbus Cremastrae seu Pleiones)

Shan Ci Gu also known as Pseudobulbus Cremastrae seu Pleiones is the pseudobulb of Cremastra appendiculata, Pleione bulbocodioides, or Pleione yunnanensis, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Orchidaceae. It first appeared in <Bencao Shiyi> (Gleanings from the Bencao) around 739 AD.

Cremastrae appendiculata has a high horticultural value. It often grows in wetlands near forest edges or ditch edges at an altitude of 500-2,900 meters. It is distributed in China, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan.

Pleione bulbocodioides grows under the evergreen broad-leaved forest or shrub edges at an altitude of 900-3,600 meters. It is endemic to China and is distributed in Shaanxi, Gansu, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, and Tibet.

Pleione yunnanensis often grows on forest edges at an altitude of 1,100-3,500 meters. It can be found in southwestern China and northern Myanmar.

In summer and autumn, people pick Cremastra appendiculata, Pleione bulbocodioides, or Pleione yunnanensis, remove their above-ground parts and impurities, separate their pseudobulbs, wash them with water, steam or boil them thoroughly, dry them, and cut them into thin slices, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Cremastrae appendiculata contains phenanthrenes, bibenzyls, cremastosine 1, cremastosine 2, cinnamic acid, 3,4-dihydroxy-benzoic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, catechuic acid, p-hydroxy benzaldehyde, glucopyranoside, gastrodin, daucosterol, stigmasterol, emodin monomethyl ether, quercetin, eucomic acid, and batatasin Ⅲ.

Pleione bulbocodioides contains dihydrophenanthrenes, bibenzyls, β-sitosterol, β-daucosterol, gastrodin, biflavone, methyl p-hydroxypropionate, cinnamic acid, and syringaresinol.

Pleione yunnanensis contains phenanthrenes, bibenzyls, batatasin Ⅲ, trans-isomer cinnamic acid, trans-ferulic acid, triterpenoids, and phenolic acids.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Shan Ci Gu is relatively cool, with a slightly pungent and sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver and spleen meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Shan Ci Gu is often used to clear heat and remove toxin, alleviate swelling and dissipate indurated mass, treat thyroid cyst, acute tonsillitis, stomatitis, lymphatic tuberculosis, snakebite, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, and other malignant tumors.

Health benefits of Shan Ci Gu

  • Anti-fungus, anti-gout, and anti-oxidation.
  • Inhibiting cell division and anti-angiogenesis.
  • Reducing total cholesterol and triglycerides, preventing atherosclerosis.
  • Enhancing the proliferation ability of lymphocytes and the phagocytic ability of macrophages, and improving immunity.
  • Activating tyrosinase to treating pigmented dermatosis.
  • Blocking the muscarinic M3 receptor, treating respiratory disorders, and allergic gastrointestinal syndrome.
  • Removing heat toxins, treating snake and insect bites, skin ulcers, and carbuncles caused by heat toxins.
  • Alleviating swelling and dissipating indurated mass, treating scrofula, subcutaneous nodules, goiter and tumor.
  • Resolving phlegm and treating epilepsy caused by wind-phlegm.
  • Inhibiting HCT-8 cells, Be17402 hepatoma cells, BGC-823 gastric cancer cells, A549 lung cancer cells, MCF-7 breast cancer cells, and A-2780 ovarian cancer cells.
  • Inhibiting Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans.
  • Studies have found that cremastosine 1 and cremastosine 2 can lower blood pressure in rats, and the antihypertensive effect can last for more than 30 minutes.

Shan Ci Gu is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It with Xiong Huang (Realgar), Zhu Sha (Cinnabaris), and She Xiang (Moschus) can treat carbuncles and sores.
  • It with Tu Bie Chong (EupolyPhaga seu Steleophaga), Chuan Shan Jia (Squama Manitis), and Luo Gu (Mole Cricket) can treat cirrhosis.
  • It with Chong Lou (Rhizoma Paridis), Dan Shen (Red sage), Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae), Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri), and Xia Ku Cao (Spica Prunellae) can treat thyrophyma.
  • It with Jing Da Ji (Radix Euphorbiae Pekinensis), Zhu Sha (Cinnabaris), She Xiang (Moschus), and Qian Jin Zi (Semen Euphorbiae Lathyridis) can treat senile vaginitis.
  • It with Mao Zhua Cao (Radix Ranunculi Ternati), Hai Zao (Seaweed), Huang Yao Zi (Rhizoma Dioscoreae Bulbiferae), and Mu Hu Die (Semen Oroxyli) can treat thyroid cysts.

According to <Qi Xiao Liang Fang> (Effective and good prescriptions), It can be combined with green tea to reduce phlegm.

Side effects of Shan Ci Gu

Some studies have confirmed that it can induce the loss of somatic and germ cell genetic material, leading to mutations.

Individual patients taking it may cause gastrointestinal reactions such as abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Precautions of Shan Ci Gu

  • The dosage of Shan Ci Gu should be controlled at 3-9g.
  • It can be made into decoction or mashed for external use.
  • People with a deficiency of healthy qi should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.

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