Wu Shao She (Black Striped Snake)

Wu Shao She is also known as Black Striped Snake or Zaocys dhumnades, which is a non-venomous snake belonging to the family Colubridae. It is common animal medicine, which first appeared in <Lei Gong Pao Zhi Lun> (Master Lei’s Discourse on Processing of Chinese Materia Medica) in the Northern and Southern Dynasties420 AD–589 AD).

Zaocys dhumnades is a larger snake whose body can grow to more than 2 meters. It has a certain economic value. Its meat is edible and has high nutritional value. Its nutritional value is higher than that of chicken, duck, and beef. Its skin can be made into Huqin membrane.

This snake is endemic to China and it is mainly distributed in Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Fujian, Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Sichuan, Guizhou, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan, Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Taiwan, and other provinces.

They are widely found in plains, hills, and low mountains. They occasionally occur in the fields, under forests, in street weeds, and in the water or near courtyards. They are agile and like to swim and hunt in the water.

Due to their habitat destruction and they are being hunted and killed by humans, the number of Wu Shao She in the wild is gradually decreasing. At present, some areas have begun to artificially breed them.

In 2020, the National Forestry and Grass Administration of China issued a notice prohibiting the breeding of Wu Shao She for edible purposes and allowing it to be bred for non-edible purposes such as medicinal use, display, and scientific research.

In summer and autumn every year, people catch black snakes, cut open their abdomens, remove their internal organs, dry them in the sun, remove their heads and scales, cut them into segments, use them directly, or stir-fry them with wine, or cook them with rice wine, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Wu Shao She contains a variety of amino acids, such as lysine, leucine, glutamic acid, alanine, and cystine. It also contains tropomyosin, uracil, thymine, cytidine, hypoxanthine, adenine, inosine, fructose-1, 6-bisphosphatase, brachystemidines A, isobutyl butyl phthalate, dihydroferulic acid, β-sitosterol, and 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde.

Generally, tan or black Wu Shao She with a slightly wine-smelling is the best.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Wu Shao She is relatively mild, with a sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver meridian.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it is often used to expel wind and dredge meridians, treat rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic arthritis, numbness and spasm, stroke, facial distortion, hemiplegia, convulsion, tetanus, leprosy, scabies, scrofula, malignant sores, urticaria, chronic urticaria, vitiligo, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, intractable pruritus, prurigo nodularis, and erythema multiforme.

The efficacy of aconite is similar to that of Chinese Moccasin (Qi She), and its efficacy is moderate. There are about 50 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing Wu Shao She, such as Wushe Zhiyang Wan, Bai Dian Feng Wan, and Huang Qi Pian.

Benefits of Wu Shao She

  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced ear swelling in mice, and the increase permeability of mouse abdominal capillaries caused by glacial acetic acid.
  • Raising the pain threshold and inhibiting the pain caused by the hot plate experiment and glacial acetic acid experiment in mice.
  • Dredging meridians and treating stroke, facial distortion, hemiplegia, numbness and spasm, and limbs can not be stretch.
  • Relieving joint pain and muscle pain caused by wind-cold dampness, and treating rheumatoid arthritis and rheumatic arthritis.
  • Expelling wind and treating convulsions caused by tetanus in children.
  • Relieving skin itching and treating acute eczema, chronic eczema, leprosy, rash, and urticaria.
  • Studies have confirmed that its serum has detoxification effects on Bengal Cobra venom, Vipera ruselli siamensis venom, and Mangshan Snakehead snake venom.

Wu Shao She is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It with Quan Xie (Mesobuthus Martensii), Tian Nan Xing (Rhizoma Arisaematis), and Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae) can treat wandering arthritis, slow weakness of hands and feet, numbness and spasm, and limbs can not be stretch.
  • It with She Xiang (Moschus) and Zao Jia Zi (Semen Gleditsiae Sinensis) can treat acute infantile convulsions and chronic convulsions.
  • It with Chinese Moccasin (Bai Hua She) and Wu Gong (Centipede) can alleviate convulsions caused by tetanus.
  • It with Bai Fu Zi (Typhonii Rhizoma), Da Feng Zi (Semen Hydnocarpi), and Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae) can treat leprosy.
  • It with Zhi Qiao (Fructus Aurantii) and He Ye (Folium Nelumbinis) can treat acute eczema and chronic eczema.

Side effects of Wu Shao She

Wu Shao She has been used clinically for many years, with few side effects.

A small proportion of patients taking it may cause gastrointestinal reactions such as stomach upset, nausea, and vomiting.

Precautions of Wu Shao She

  • The dosage of Wu Shao She should be controlled at 9-12g.
  • It can be made into decoction, pills, medicinal liquors, or ground for external use.
  • It is not recommended to use iron utensils to boil it.
  • People with blood deficiency causing wind should not take it.
  • People with yin deficiency and blood dryness syndrome should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.