Sheng Ma is also known as Rhizoma Cimicifugae and is one of the commonly used medicines in traditional Chinese medicine. It has a medical history of more than 2,300 years.
Cimicifuga is a perennial herb belonging to the Ranunculaceae family. There are 18 species in this genus, which are distributed in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.
The Sheng Ma refers to herein is the rhizome of Cimicifuga heracleifolia, Cimicifuga dahurica or Cimicifuga foetida. Most of these three plants are distributed in Asian countries such as China, Russia, North Korea, and Mongolia.
Black cohosh native to North America can be used to relieve sleep disorders, mood disorders and treat gynecological diseases. It has different clinical applications and pharmacological effects from Sheng Ma.
Every autumn, people gather rhizomes of Cimicifuga, remove their impurities and their fibrous roots, dry them in the sun, cut them into thick pieces, and make them into Chinese herbs.
Sheng Ma contains cimicifugin, cimigenol, salicylic acid, tannin, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, isoferulic acid, and other chemical components.
According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal property of Sheng Ma is slightly cold, with a pungent and slightly sweet taste. It has certain therapeutic effects on the pathological changes of the lung, spleen, stomach and large intestine meridians.
In Chinese medicine, Sheng Ma is often used to treat fever and headache caused by colds, acute sore throat, stomatitis, tonsillitis, drooping stomach, drooping uterus, and chronic diarrhea.
About 50 Chinese herbal formulas contain Sheng Ma, such as Xin Yi San, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan, and Hua Zhi Pian.
Health benefits of Sheng Ma
- Anti-inflammation, anti-fungus, anti-virus, and anti-convulsion.
- Inhibiting the central nervous system, sedation and analgesia.
- Increasing the total number of white blood cells and the body’s resistance.
- Inhibiting platelet aggregation and release, anticoagulation and hemostasis.
- Inhibiting myocardial contractility, slowing heart rate, and lowering blood pressure.
- Inhibiting intestinal spasms and uterine spasms caused by acetylcholine chloride, histamine, and barium chloride.
- Promoting eruptions and treating the insufficient outbreak of early measles.
- Relieving fever and headaches caused by colds.
- Clearing away heat and removing toxin, alleviating aphtha, tongue sore, and sore throat caused by toxic heat.
- Treating drooping stomach, drooping uterus, rectal prolapse, and chronic diarrhea caused by the sinking of middle qi.
- Inhibiting Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Micrococcus catarrhalis.
Sheng Ma is used with other Chinese herbs
- It with Sang Ye (Mulberry Leaf), Ju Hua (Flos Chrysanthemi), and Lian Qiao (Fructus Forsythiae) can treat fever and headache caused by wind-heat or warm disease.
- It with Ma Huang (Ephedra). Zi Su Ye (Perilla Leaf), Bai Zhi (Angelica Dahurica), and Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong) can treat the fever with no sweat, headache, and cough caused by wind-cold.
- It with Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri), Ren Shen (Radix Ginseng), Huang Qi (Astragalus Root) can invigorate qi and yang, treat visceral droop and chronic diarrhea.
- It with Shi Gao (Gypsum) and Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis) can clear heat and remove toxin, alleviate aphtha, tongue sore, sore throat, and swollen gums.
- It with Ge Gen (Kudzu Root), Bo He (Mentha), Niu Bang Zi (Fructus Arctii), and Jing Jie (Schizonepeta tenuifolia) can promote eruptions, relieve fever with no sweat, cough, sore throat, thirst, and brownish urine.
Side effects of Sheng Ma
Taking it in excess may cause toxic reactions such as vomiting, gastroenteritis, dizziness, headache, fatigue, tremors, limb cramps. In severe cases, it may cause collapse, dyspnea, and paralysis of the respiratory muscles.
Precautions of Sheng Ma
- The dosage of Sheng Ma should be controlled at 3-9g.
- It can be made into decoction or ground into powder for external use.
- Frying Sheng Ma with honey or liquor can better treat the sinking of middle qi.
- It should not be used to relieve dizziness, headaches, and fever caused by asthenic yin making yang floating.
- People who are experiencing skin rash should not take it.
- People with qi counter-flow syndrome should not take it.
- Pregnant women should not take it.