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xi xin 細辛

by: Joe Hing Kwok Chu

Pharmaceutical name:


Herba cum Radice Asari

Biological name:


Asarum heterotropoides Fr. Schmidt var. mandshuricum (Maxim.) Kitag (北细辛)

Asarum sieboldi Mig var. seoulense Nakai (漢城细辛)

Asarum sieboldi Mig (華细辛)

The previous 2 varieties are usually called bei xi xin, meaning northern xi xin. (前兩種習稱北細辛。)

Japanese Pron:



Korean Pron:



Pron. in Cantonese


sai3 san1

Other Names:


xi shen 细参,yan dai wo hua 烟袋锅花,wan bing cao 万病草。

Common Name:


Chinese wild ginger, asarum, Manchurian wildginger



throughout northeastern China,  and Shaanxi, Henan, Shandong, Zhejiang, Fujian


Properties (characteristics)性味﹕

acrid, warm, toxic to kidney

辛,溫, 對腎臟有毒

Channels (meridians) entered:


heart, kidney, lung, liver

心 ,腎,肺,肝

Actions & Indications:


promotes sweating and disperse cold, warms lungs rid of phlegm. For deafness, ingrown eye lashes; to clear sinus. Use externally for boils in mouth and tongue.

有發表散寒 ,袪風止痛,溫肺化飲,耳 聾,治倒 睫,宣通鼻竅的功能。外用治口舌生瘡。   

Medical Function: 藥理作用﹕

Medical Function:

  1.  anti allergy

  2.  anti histamine,

  3.  inhibits immune system

  4.  antipyretic and pain relieving

  5.  sedative and local anaesthetic

  6.  anti bacteria


  1.  抗 過 敏 作 用

  2.  抗 組 織 胺 作 用

  3.  抗過敏作用

  4.  解 熱 鎮 痛 作 用

  5.  鎮静與局部麻醉作 用

  6.  抗菌作 用

Chemical ingredients:


1. bei xi xing contain evaporating oil about 3%, its main ingredients of the oil:

methyl eugenol 甲基丁香油酚, a-pinene a-蒎烯,  camphene 樟腦萜, β--pinene β-蒎烯, myrcene 月桂, sabinene 香松, limonene 寧檬, 1, 8-cineole, p-cymene 對傘花, g-terpinene  g-松油烯, terpinolene, borneol 龍腦, estragole 爱草腦, 3, 5-dimethoxytoluene 3,5二甲氧基苯, safrole 黄樟醚, methyl eugenol 甲基丁香酚, asarone 细辛醚, myristicin 肉豆蔻醚, elemicin 欖香脂素, eucarvone 優葛縷酮 , 2-isopropyl-5-methylanisole 2-異丙基-5-甲基茴香醚。【1】【2】

From the bei xi xing of Japan, the underground portion contains evaporating oil:

(+-)-car-3-ene-2, 5-dione (+-)-篙-3-烯-2,5酮, 3, 4, 5-trimethoxytoluene 3,4,5-三甲基甲苯, 2, 3, 5 -trimethyoxytoluene 2,3,5- 三甲基甲苯[3].

kakual, saishinone.

2. terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol, naphthalene, n-pentadecane, croweacin[1,2], asarylketone, l-ararinin.

3. bornyl acetate, trimethoxyallylbenzene, I. II, III[5].

Other: potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, copper and zinc.



0.4 to 3.75 g. Classical texts mentioned usage not to go over one qian (3.75 grams--old measurement).

0.4 ~ 3.75

Samples of formulae:


  1. for agina: xi xin, gui zhi, jiu bai, dang gui, dan shen

  2. for pain in lower back, knees and abdomen: xi xin, du huo, sang ji sheng, chuan duan, wu yao, dang gui

  3. for cough due to cold entering lungs:  use xiao qing lung tang: xi xin, gan jiang, wu wei zi, ban xia, ma huang, xing ren

  4. for syndrome of breasts being hard, swollen, painful; menses not flowing: xi xin, dang gui, chi shao, chuan qiong (chuan xiong), hong hua, bai zhi, gua lo

  5. for pain, itchy, running eyes: xi xin, cao jue min, shi jue ming, yang gan (goat liver), mu zei cao, xia ku cao


  1.  治胸痺心痛: 細辛 ,桂枝,薤白,當歸,丹參

  2.  治腰,膝 ,腹部疼痛: 細辛,獨活,桑寄生,川斷,烏藥,當歸

  3. 小青龍湯, 治寒飲犯肺的咳喘: 細辛 ,乾薑,五味子,半夏,麻黃,杏仁

  4. 治婦人乳結疼脹,經血不行﹕ 細辛,

  5. 治目痛,目癢,流淚﹕ 細辛 ,草決明,石決明,羊肝,木賊草,夏枯草

Modern Research:

 to be loaded

 Note:  do not boil too long because of the evaporating oil.

因含揮發油, 不應久煎。



not to use in cases of cold sweat due to qi deficient; headache due to yin deficient and yang over active, cough due to yin deficient and heat in lungs.   Not to use with shan zhu yu, huang qi, hua shi, or li lu.  Do not use over one 3.75 g each time

Not to use in cases of: sweating due to qixu (qi deficient) ; yinxu (yin deficient) with heat and headache, or with cough.

It belongs to the Aristolochia family. This herb is toxic for the kidneys. It may not be legal to use in some western countries.

本 品 為 馬 兜 鈴 科 植 物 東 北 細 辛 ( Asarum heterotropoides Fr. Schmidt  var. mandshuricum (Maxim.) Kitag ) 及 同 屬 近 緣 植 物 之 乾 燥 根 及 根 莖 。對腎臟有毒。

氣虛多汗, 陰虛陽亢頭痛, 陰虛肺熱咳嗽忌服。不宜與山茱萸黃 耆﹐滑石 或藜 蘆同用。每服不可過 3.75克 (舊制一錢)

【1】徐植靈等,中药通報1984,9 (1) 27

【2】田珍等,药学通報 1981, 16, (2)53

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