Yuan Hua (Genkwa Flos or Genkwa Flower)

Yuan Hua also known as Genkwa Flos or Genkwa Flower is the flower bud of Daphne genkwa, which is a deciduous shrub belonging to the family Thymelaeaceae. It is a well-known and widely used traditional Chinese medicine with a medicinal history of over 2,000 years.

Daphne genkwa is commonly known as Lilac daphne, which is a medicinal plant native to East Asia. It is distributed in China and Korea.

This plant is drought tolerant and likes a warm environment. It often grows in rice fields, hillsides and valley edges at an altitude of 300-1,000 meters.

In the spring of each year, people gather the unopened flower buds of Daphne genkwa, remove their impurities, dry them in the sun, use them directly, or stir-fry them with vinegar, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Yuan Hua contains daphnoretin, umbelliferone, eleutheroside B1, daphnetin, edgeworthin, edgeworin, genkwanin, luteolin, apigenin, kaempferol, genistein, dihydrokaempferol, quercetin, sesamin, lariciresinol, salicifoliol, vladinol D, Isolariciresinol, β-sitosterol, daucosterol, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate, syringaldehyde, aliphatic compounds, and aromatic compounds.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Yuan Hua Ji is relatively warm, with toxicity and a pungent and bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung, spleen, and kidney meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Yuan Hua is often used to remove water retention, expel phlegm and stop cough, kill insects, treat exudative pleurisy, ascites, chronic bronchitis, pediatric pneumonia, skin ulcers, head sores, tinea tonsure, stubborn dermatitis, chilblains, lymph tuberculosis, acute mastitis, infectious hepatitis, and rheumatic arthritis. It is an important component of Shi Zao Tang.

Health benefits of Yuan Hua

  • Inhibiting the central nervous system and having analgesic, sedative, and anticonvulsant effects.
  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced mouse ear swelling and egg white-induced mouse foot plantar swelling.
  • Improving the activity of superoxide dismutase and catalase, removing free radicals, and inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
  • Inhibiting the expression of matrix metalloproteinases in A-549 lung cancer cells and the growth of non-small cell lung cancer cells.
  • Killing soybean cantharidin larvae, nematodes, and dewormers.
  • Stimulating the intestinal mucosa, inducing diarrhea and diuresis.
  • Relieving cough, asthma, chest pain, and tympanites caused by fluid retention in the chest and hypochondrium.
  • Treating pleural effusion, ascites, and systemic edema.
  • Expelling phlegm and stopping cough, treating chronic bronchitis and pediatric pneumonia.
  • Relieving skin sores and abscesses, treating head sores, tinea tonsure, and stubborn dermatitis.
  • Inhibiting pneumonia bacillus, hemolytic streptococcus, influenza bacillus, and some dermatophytes.
  • Studies have found that it contains yuanhuacin, which can enhance the contraction tension of the isolated uterus of rats in estrus and early pregnancy, and has the effect of inducing labor.

Yuan Hua is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It can be combined with Da Zao (Fructus Jujubae) to treat chronic bronchitis.
  • It can be combined with Lv Dou (Mung Bean) to treat rheumatic arthritis.
  • It with Hong Hua (Flos Carthami) and alcohol can treat chilblains.
  • It with Xiong Huang (Realgar) and petrolatum can treat head sores, tinea tonsure, and stubborn dermatitis.
  • It with Gan Sui (Radix Kansui), Jing Da Ji (Radix Euphorbiae Pekinensis), and Da Zao (Fructus Jujubae) can treat pleural effusion, ascites, and systemic edema.

Side effects of Yuan Hua

Yuan Hua is poisonous. Individual patients taking it may cause tinnitus, vertigo, dry mouth, burning in the stomach, nausea, or vomiting.

Overdose may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dehydration, dizziness, or mild headache.

In severe cases, it may cause blood dysentery, convulsions, coma, or respiratory failure.

Precautions of Yuan Hua

  • The dosage of Yuan Hua should be controlled at 1.5-3g.
  • It can be made into decoction, pills, powders, or ground for external use.
  • Stir-frying it with vinegar can weaken its toxicity.
  • It should not be used with Gan Cao (Licorice Root).
  • Weak people should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.