What Is Tu Fu Ling (Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae or Glabrous Greenbrier Rhizome)

Tu Fu Ling is also known as Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae or Glabrous Greenbrier Rhizome and is the rhizome of Smilax glabra, which is a perennial evergreen climbing shrub belonging to the Lily family. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Compendium of Materia Medica> in 1,578 AD.

This plant has a certain economic value, which can be extracted from starch and tanning extracts, or used to make wine. It is native to China, the Himalayas, and the Indochina Peninsula. It often grows in forests, bushes, slopes, or river valleys.

Every summer and autumn, people gather the rhizomes of Smilax glabra, wash them with water, remove their impurities and fibrous roots, cut them into thin slices, dry them, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Tu Fu Ling contains succinic acid, palmitic acid, ferulic acid, shikimic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, isoengelitin, astilbin, neoastilbin, isoastiblin, neoisoastilbin, quercetin, epicatechin, dioscin, glucopyranoside, β-sitosterol, daucosterol, hexose, starch, and volatile oil. Tu Fu Ling with light brown cross-section is the best.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Tu Fu Ling is relatively mild, with a sweet and light taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver and stomach meridians.

In Chinese medicine, Tu Fu Ling is often used to clear heat and remove toxin, drain dampness and promote urination, ease joints and muscles, treat syphilis, gonorrhea, erysipeloid, arrhythmia, gout, psoriasis, flat warts, trichomonas vaginitis, pyelonephritis, B Hepatitis, acute tonsillitis, leptospirosis, chronic lead poisoning, and mercury poisoning. It is an important component of Shi Du Qing Jiao Nang and Tong Feng Ding Jiao Nang.

Health benefits of Tu Fu Ling

  • Relieving gossypol poisoning and chronic lead poisoning.
  • Reducing the damage of thioethylamine to the liver and protecting the liver.
  • Inhibiting animal transplanted tumors, and liver cancer caused by aflatoxin.
  • Blocking β receptors and preventing arrhythmia caused by intravenous adrenaline injection.
  • Preventing cerebral ischemia, myocardial ischemia, cardiac ischemia-reperfusion, and relieving angina.
  • Inhibiting platelet aggregation and preventing atherosclerosis and thrombosis.
  • Reducing lipid peroxidation of gastric mucosa, promoting gastric juice secretion, increasing gastric juice PH, and preventing gastric ulcers.
  • Draining dampness and promoting urination, treating turbid urine and leukorrheal diseases.
  • Relieving genital itching and skin itching caused by damp-heat, and treating eczema.
  • Removing heat toxins, relieving skin redness and swelling, treating carbuncles, sores, and scrofula.
  • Treating syphilis and limb spasms caused by the side effects of mercury which is traditionally used to treat syphilis.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus haemolyticus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Typhoid bacillus, Shigella flexneri, Diphtheria bacillus, and Anthrax bacillus.
  • The study found that its water extract can selectively inhibit the inflammatory process after the release of lymphokines by sensitized T lymphocytes. (selectively inhibiting cellular immune response)

Tu Fu Ling is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It with Cang Zhu (Black Atractylodes Rhizome), Huang Bai (Cortex Phellodendri), and Ku Shen (Radix Sophorae Flavescentis) can treat the ulceration of scrofula.
  • It with Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis), Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae), and Mu Gua (Fructus Chaenomelis) can relieve limb spasms caused by mercury poisoning.
  • It with Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae), Chi Shao (Radix Paeoniae Rubra), Di Fu Zi (Fructus Kochiae), Bai Xian Pi (Cortex Dictamni), and Yin Chen (Capillary Wormwood) can relieve skin itching caused by damp-heat.
  • It with Ye Ju Hua (Flos Chrysanthemi Indici), Jin Yin Hua (Flos Lonicerae), Hu Zhang (Rhizoma Polygoni Cuspidati), and Tou Gu Cao (Speranskia Tuberculata) can treat the erysipeloid caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae.
  • It with Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis), Mai Ya (Fructus Hordei Germinatus), Gu Ya (Fructus Oryzae Germinatus), Wu Mei (Fructus Mume), and Gua Lou (Fructus Trichosanthis) can improve cancer symptoms of the esophagus and cardia.

Side effects of Tu Fu Ling

Tu Fu Ling has been used clinically for many years, with almost no side effects.

A small proportion of patients taking it may cause abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, thirst, dry throat, or skin allergies.

Precautions of Tu Fu Ling

  • The dosage of Tu Fu Ling should be controlled at 15-60g.
  • It can be made into decoction, pill, or ground into powder for external use.
  • It is not recommended to use iron utensils to boil it.
  • It is not recommended to drink tea while taking this medicine.
  • People with yin deficiency in the liver and kidney should not take it.
  • People without damp-heat syndrome should not take it.
  • People with gastrointestinal diseases should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.