Xi Xin (Chinese Wild Ginger, Asarum)

Xi Xin is also known as Chinese Wild Ginger and is the root and rhizome of Asarum, which is a perennial herb belonging to the Aristolochiaceae. It has a medicinal history of more than 2,000 years.

Asarum is a single genus with 85 species, most of which are distributed in Asia and a small number in North America. It is a medicinal plant and an economic plant. Its essential oils are widely used in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. It is used by some countries as mothproof material.

The Xi Xin mentioned in this article refers to the root and rhizome of Asarum heterotropioides and Asarum sieboldii. Asarum heterotropioides grows in northeastern China. Asarum sieboldii grows in China, Japan, Korea, North Korea.

After the fruits of Asarum mature in late summer and early autumn, people gather their roots and rhizomes, remove their impurities, dry them in the shade, and make them into Chinese herbs.

The medicinal effect of Xi Xin comes from its volatile oil, which contains methyl eugenol, safrole, asarone, elemicin, N-isobutyl-dodecatetraenamide. The best Xi Xin is grayish-yellow, with a strong aroma and a pungent and numb taste.

According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal properties of Xi Xin is relatively warm, with slight toxicity. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung, kidney and heart meridians.

In Chinese medicine, Xi Xin is often used to treat wind-cold, headaches, toothache, stuffy nose, runny nose, sinusitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

About 130 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions contain Xi Xin, such as Zheng Tian Wan, Bi Yan Wan, and Xiao Qing Long Tang.

Health benefits of Xi Xin

  • Anti-oxidation, anti-allergen, and anti-inflammation.
  • Enhancing lipid metabolism and raising blood sugar.
  • Relieving toothache, angina, rheumatic pain, and testicular swelling and pain.
  • Enhancing heart function, dilating blood vessels, and preventing myocardial ischemia.
  • Relaxing bronchial smooth muscles, relieving bronchospasm, cough, asthma, and eliminating phlegm.
  • Exciting and inhibiting the central nervous system and having the effects of sedation, anti convulsion, and local anesthesia.
  • Relieving fever, headache, body pain, nasal congestion, and runny nose caused by wind-cold.
  • Treating recurrent oral ulcers, bradycardia, epilepsy, and Meniere syndrome.
  • Treating rhinitis, nasosinusitis, bronchitis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic arthritis, and periarthritis of the shoulder.
  • Inhibiting hemolytic streptococcus, shigella dysenteriae, gram-positive bacteria, typhoid bacillus, mycobacterium tuberculosis, and aspergillus flavus.
  • The study found that intravenous injection of its volatile oils can lower blood pressure.

Xi Xin is used with other Chinese herbs

Side effects of Xi Xin

Xi Xin is slightly toxic. Taking it may cause toxic reactions, such as irritability, sweating, vomiting, thirst, dilated pupils, headaches, and increased blood pressure.

After poisoning, untimely treatment may cause trismus, opisthotonus, limb spasm, arrhythmia, urinary retention, and respiratory paralysis.

Precautions of Xi Xin

  • The dosage of Xi Xin should be controlled at 1-3g.
  • It can be made into decoction, medicinal liquor or ground into powder.
  • The too-short time of decocting or overdose may cause poisoning.
  • Boiling Xi Xin for 30 minutes can reduce its toxicity.
  • It is recommended to induce vomiting and gastric lavage after taking Xi Xin poisoning.
  • It should not be together used with Li Lu (Veratrum nigrum).
  • It should not be used to treat dizziness or headache caused by blood deficiency or hyperactivity of yang.
  • It should not be used to treat cough or asthma caused by Yin deficiency or lung heat.
  • People with renal insufficiency, pregnant women, and children should not take it.