Course Review

My name is Debbie Smith and I have an MAOM from the New England School of Acupuncture, class of 2005. I’ve been studying with Nicolaas since 2019. My past experiences with language study include a BA in Russian Language. I’ve also studied non-medical classical Chinese with other teachers at the continuing education level, along the way, just to satisfy curiosity about other types of literature that have had influence on our foundational literature.

This is what I’d like to communicate about the benefits of studying with Nicolaas:

  1. Robust material. The notes he teaches from are dense with information. I continue to go back to them to review and find more layers to understand each time as my own ability to grasp an idea improves. These notes are his original content. You will not find them in a book anywhere. When I have taken other classes, when I’ve hit a confusing concept, his notes ultimately are my final resource to put an idea in order in my head.
  2. Investment in his students. He corrects all submissions personally and meticulously. When reaching certain levels of testing, you will not only have your work corrected with direct comments, you will also receive a discussion sheet to go more in depth into the broader issues at hand. Every test is another learning experience.
  3. Thoroughness. He is thorough even at the beginner level. You will learn terms, but you will also learn the context in which these terms are used. This will be invaluable when you start reading medical literature.
  4. Care for character writing. Nicolaas will help you understand how to draw the characters well. To me, each character is a small piece of art, so to have that help with my writing was just wonderful! You wouldn’t think that would be possible through distance learning, but it certainly is!
  5. Foundational ethics. The ethics and history of translation of medical terminology are explained in detail. This is not a small thing to understand.
  6. Academic rigor. This one is a bit hard to explain without sounding a bit snooty, but I’m going to be honest. This class is refreshingly challenging. You are treated like you are capable of learning something that is indeed, quite difficult. This is unlike most of my experiences with continuing education of late, where you are left with superficial instruction that does not allow for practical application of skills learned. He understands that we have busy practices to attend to, but he can accommodate that in ways that do not involve diluting content. You will finish blocks A through C with the skills to read confidently, with a thorough understanding of the underlying grammar structures. It’s not always going to be easy, but he will never treat you like you are incapable of figuring it out, nor will he ever refuse to answer a question when you get stuck.
  7. Class format: Correspondence style learning seems like the ideal format for material at this level. I can read and take my time with this. I’m not sure a lecture would help me learn this any better, as the notes take time to contemplate, vocabulary takes time to memorize and you need time to practice reading and writing. I quite frankly love that the timeline for my study is in my control, and I don’t have to present myself to a zoom camera each week. I can just study quietly until the material makes sense and then turn in my homework. I can send questions when I have them instead of sitting on them for class time, which allows my questions to be more thoughtfully asked and thoughtfully answered.
  8. Relevance of material. You will immediately start working with medical vocabulary and then medical texts. There are other classes available that use popular texts that are based on Warring States period philosophical literature, as this is often the entry point of interest in classical Chinese language. While that is a worthy endeavor also, I would say from my personal experience that these are very different types of literature. For someone like myself, only a few years into this journey, the difference between the two still feels like comparing apples to oranges. If your interest is in medical texts, it seems to make more sense to start building your vocabulary and your reading skills in this area from the very start. You will find satisfaction in your efforts much sooner.

    In summary, I say without hesitation that I feel that this is the best class available to our professional community for developing the language skills to read our foundational literature.

Growing 黄芪 [huángqí]

Growing 黄芪/耆 [huángqí] – Astragalus membranaceus, milkvetch

If you scroll down you will find an excerpt on huangqi from 本草問答 Bencao wenda – Questions and Answers on Materia Medica – by Tang Rongchuan (a.k.a. Tang Zonghai).  Further down below I will add some additional information, including more excerpts from Chinese materiae medicae (work in progress).  There is a lot of information on huangqi available in books and on the web so here is just a short pictorial with some personal notes in between:

黃芪/耆 [huángqí] is not a difficult plant to grow from seed. The germination is reliable and fast – the fastest I’ve seen is four days for the first signs of life to appear. There is, however, one period where things can easily go wrong. The seedlings are rather fragile and you can kill them by too much water or too much heat (direct sunlight on particulary warm spring days). This is especially true in the first six weeks or so.

Scarification of the seeds – scratching the seed shells by rubbing them between sandpaper, for instance – is recommended but without it seeds will germinate too.  If you scarify with sandpaper, don’t rub too hard as the seed shells break easily and the seeds can be damaged that way. One source mentions bottom heat but since huangqi is a cool soil germinator I would not know why that would help. Maybe when you have an unheated greenhouse and it is still very cold outside…

When the seedling begins to grow in the center, it looks like a bird with wings spread out.  Once the center grows three leaves, one large and two tiny wings, the picture is very different.

I love the looks of this plant. The leaves grow out in a beautiful pattern. The flowers do not stand out but their shape and the form of the resulting seedpods are special as well.  The flowers always make me think of duck beaks.

I have had to move Nico’s Nerdy Nursery a couple of times over the last years, so I am unable to keep track of the plants that I have planted out at different locations. However, I’ve kept a few plants in large pots and hope to plant them in the poor ‘moondust’ soil of the Okanogan Highlands this year (2018). I am hopeful because huangqi likes poor, sandy and dryish soil, and we are up in the north here (see Tang Zonghai’s comments on that below).  The only concern I have is that critters like gophers love to eat the root. They seem to know how beneficial that root is, probably also because of the nice taste it has. Wiring for protection of the roots is a lot of work so I will consider to keep them in pots – this year to be filled with native soil.

As this plant is in the legume family, I am also playing with the idea of growing a large area as cover crop.

This photo shows the plant growing back from the root in its third year:


Tang Zonghai on huangqi

Excerpt from 本草問答 Bencao wenda – Questions and Answers on Materia Medica – by Tang Rongchuan (a.k.a. Tang Zonghai).  That text is introduced in: A Short Introduction to Tang Zonghai’s Běncǎo wèndá


Huángqí grows in the center of China, in Gansu and Shanxi, and in the northern areas beyond the Great Wall. Nowadays the established view is [that the best huángqí grows in] the north. Is this justified?


Although it is does not have to be completely in the north, still, for the forming of its nature, [huángqí] indeed takes up the yang qi from water of the north in order to grow.
The argument that the north rules [in the growing of huángqí] is based on [wherefrom] it obtains the most excellent qi. Hence, the best huángqí is produced in the area(s) north of the Great Wall. For all the yang qi of heaven and earth penetrates the surface soil after emerging from the water of the subterranean yellow springs. When [that water] rises towards heaven it becomes clouds and mist, when it touches matter it becomes rain and dew, and when it interacts with humans it becomes breathing. It all is this water’s qi and nothing else.

人身之陽氣,則由腎與膀胱氣海之中發出。上循三焦油膜, 以達于肺, 而為呼吸, 布于皮毛而為衛氣, 亦只此水中之氣而已矣。 水在五行,以北方為盛,故補氣之藥皆以北方產者為良。

The yang qi of the human body emerges from within the kidney, the bladder, and the sea of qi (‘chest center’ or ‘chest cavity’; one of the four seas as described in Lingshu 33). It ascends and moves along the oily membranes of the triple burner to arrive at the lung where it becomes respiration and it spreads to the skin and [body] hair where it becomes defense qi. This as well refers to the qi from within water and nothing else. Because water in the five phases is exuberant in the north, all qi-supplementing medicinals are of the highest quality when they are produced in the north.


The body of the root of huángqí that is produced in Gansu, the center of China, is very solid; its qi is not exuberant and its hollow passageways are small. That body is slightly emptier and looser [in the huángqí that] is produced in Shanxi. Because [in the huángqí of Shanxi] the qi is slightly [more] exuberant and inside [the root] there are hollow passageways [wherein] qi flows, [those passageways] are slightly emptier and looser.

This is still inferior to the [huángqí] produced in the areas north of the Great Wall, whose form is extremely loose. Because the interior hollow passageways that transport water and qi are much larger, we know that the qi is more exuberant. For when the root of huángqí grows several chi (transl. note: one chi is about one third of a foot or ten centimeter) and deeply penetrates the soil, it sucks and draws up the subterranean water from the yellow springs to generate the shoots and leaves. Qi is water and to draw water is to draw qi; when the roots are empty, loose and with large openings there will be abundant water and qi drawn [through them]. Thus there is an exuberance of qi and [such huángqí has an even greater ability to] supplement qi.


The qi of the human body is engendered in the kidney, travels upward from the sea of qi, and follows the oily membranes to reach the mouth and nose. This is not different from the qi of huángqí that ascends through the loose apertures to the shoots and leaves. [Huáng]‘s loose apertures resemble the loose apertures in the oily membranes of the human body wherethrough water flows as well: The triple burner. Therefore it is said that huángqí is the ‘triple burner oily membrane’ medicinal. Its ability to open up the interior and penetrate the exterior is completely derived from the idea that huángqí travels upward and connects with the exterior while it is coming from inside of the oily membranes.

且黃芪外皮紫黑水火之間色也,惟其秉水中之陽氣,故成此水火之間色。三焦相火水中之陽,名曰少陽。黃芪中通象三焦,引水泉之氣,以上生苗葉 是秉水中之陽而生者也,故有水火之間色,而為三焦之良藥,其氣類有如是者。

Moreover, huángqí‘s external skin is purple-black – the intermediate colour of water and fire. It is solely by its taking up the yang qi from water that it forms this intermediate colour of water and fire. The yang from within the triple burner’s ministerial fire and water is called lesser yang. The flow within huángqí resembles [the flow within] the triple burner. The qi of the water springs is drawn up to generate sprouts and leaves; it is engenderment by taking up the yang from within water. Therefore it has the intermediate colour of fire and water and is a good medicinal for the triple burner. Its type of qi is like this.

芪之肉理色黃味甘,土之色味也,黃芪入土最深又得土氣之濃,所以黃芪又大補脾。今人不知身中綱膜是三焦,又不知綱膜上之膏油 即是脾之物,不知膜與油相連,又安知黃芪補脾土,達三焦之理哉?能知綱膜是三焦,膏油屬脾土,則知黃芪歸脾經。達三焦之理矣。

The colour of [huáng]‘s flesh texture is yellow and its flavour is sweet – the colour and flavour of earth. Huángqí enters the earth deeply and then obtains the concentrates from earth qi. That is why huángqí also greatly supplements the spleen. Nowadays people do not know that the ropy membranes within the body constitute the triple burner; they also do not know that the fatty oil on top of these ropy membranes is an aspect of the spleen; and they do not know that the membranes and the oil are linked together. So how could they understand the principle of huángqí supplementing spleen-earth and penetrating the triple burner? If you are able to understand that the ropy membranes are the triple burner and that the fatty oil belongs to spleen-earth, then you will understand the principle of huángqí entering the spleen channel and penetrating the triple burner.


Nicolaas Herman Oving                                                            January 2018

Please respect the author’s intellectual property rights of texts, pictures, and translations.  Sharing, copying, printing, etc. of this material is not allowed without permission of the author.  For citations, please add the author’s name, the title of the article, and the web address of first publication.  You can contact the author via if you wish to republish or use his materials.


Short history of the Chinese term for ‘nerve’

I originally wrote this in response to a colleague who suggested that the Chinese term for ‘nerve’, 神經 [shénjīng], implied that the Chinese conceived of this concept as meaning: ‘links of transmission () of spirit ()’. Over the years I have shared it with students and in some discussion groups as well. The feedback I received has encouraged me to correct, expand, and polish it. I also added some illustrations in this new version. I hope you will enjoy it.

I am greatly and gratefully indebted to Hugh Shapiro for his thorough research on this topic.


Can we say that the nerves are ‘the links for the transmission of spirit within us’? Is that the way the Chinese saw it when they began to use the term 神經 [shénjīng] for ‘nerve’? When I heard that I had serious doubts, mostly because the Chinese already had an elaborate system of transportation in the body, consisting of channels, vessels, and a network of smaller conduits. I simply could not imagine that when descriptions of the nerve and the nervous system reached China, they thought: “Ah, that’s what was missing, that could be the vehicle for spirit transmission!”

I was prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt, though, and decided to see if there was any evidence for it. The combination of the two characters and by itself (be it very interesting) is not enough for me to believe that it became part of Chinese medical philosophy in the way that my colleague had put it.

I specialize in the Chinese-English terminology of Chinese medicine, a medicine that I have practised as well. Besides my studies in Chinese languages and cultures I have done studies in lexicology and terminology. A brief introduction to what terminology is and how it works in our field of knowledge can be found here.

Of importance for the following is: A term is only a term when it has a definition. A definition describes the concept that is conveyed by the term. When a term is translated into another language, the definition does not change. This principle is a prerequisite for adequate translation and communication in any specific subject field. There is nothing special about it; it is the way knowledge is communicated in this world. Nevertheless, it often is overlooked in one particular field of knowledge, namely Chinese medicine.


<Anatomiae amphitheatrvm, Robert Fludd, 1623>


So, it is the definition of ‘nerve’ that applies to 神經 and vice versa. There are many ways new terms are formed and for the Chinese terminologies of Chinese medicine and that of biomedicine (a.k.a. Western medicine) there are some specific problems. When the Chinese create new terms for concepts that they did not invent themselves, like ‘nerve’, what they are doing is trying to understand what the foreign term means (by investigating the definition of the concept) and then come up with a term for it in their own language.

If you translate that new word back into the foreign language without taking into account what definition is attached to it, you can come up with something different. And that is what happens when you translate 神經 as ‘spirit transmission’ or ‘lines for the transmission of spirit’, or ‘spirit channel’. Regardless of the problem that both characters have multiple meanings (an ignoramus could say that 神經 means ‘divine menstruation’), what you are doing when you follow this method, is giving a new and different definition to an existing term. And that makes communication in any discipline very difficult if not impossible.

The compound word 神經 [shénjīng] in the meaning ‘nerve’ is interesting because as a term it raises several questions. Imagine a doctor in China who comes into contact with Western anatomy for the first time in history. What would you say they will think? They see drawings of human bodies with lines, read the description of this new concept, and why o why don’t they come up with something like 腦經 ‘brain channel’, 腦氣經 ‘brain qì channel’ or another combination that fits what they read and see?


<De humani corporis fabrica, Andreas Vesalius, 1543, Basel>

As an aside:

The word [nǎo] in Chinese has the same definition as ‘brain’ – like many other anatomical words that were invented in different cultures without intercultural exchange. Think of ‘blood’, ‘heart’, ‘little toe’, ‘nose’, etcetera – all very straightforward terms, because they mean the same for everyone in all cultures and times.

Such questions occupied my brain when I was thinking about what my colleague brought forward, and they motivated me to search for references. And guess what? I found (at least part of) an answer to this intriguing issue that could make it even more intriguing. I have tried to summarize the story.


The history

The concept ‘nerve’ was first translated into Chinese by Johann Schreck (1576-1630), a member of the Society of Jesus who, before he sailed to China as a Jesuit missionary, had an impressive reputation in European courts as a gifted healer. Working with a Chinese scribe, he prepared a translation into Chinese of a Latin text in two parts, namely on anatomy & physiology and on perception, sensation, & movement (by Caspar Bauhin, first published in 1597 in Basel).


<Theatrum Anatomicum, C. Bauhin, 1605, Frankfurt>

After Schreck had served the Chinese rulers with his knowledge of astronomy (medicine and medical translation were private occupations) for a while he died, and Adam Schall (1592-1666), who had traveled on the same boat as Schreck, found a Chinese scholar, Bi Gongchen, whom Schall asked to translate the text into (more polished) literary Chinese. It was published in a single volume together with a text by Matteo Ricci, one year before the collapse of the Ming dynasty (1644).

In the text, entitled ‘Western Views of the Human Body, an Abbreviated Treatise’ (Taixi renshen shuogai ), ‘nerve’ is translated as 細筋 [xìjīn], which literally translates as ‘fine sinew’. The choice for ‘sinew’ reflects the understanding of nerves in Europe at that time. ‘Nerve’ and ‘sinew’ were, for instance, used interchangeably in early 17th century texts on anatomy. Also, the Latin ‘nervus’ means ‘bow-string, tendon, sinew’.


<Taixi renshen shuogai>

In Schreck’s text nervous function is explained by using the concept of qi circulation. The ‘fine sinews’ contain qi and no blood, and when they are cut, people lose their ability to move, etc.. The book did not give the Chinese much reason to become interested in an alternate method of healing, and the concept of nerves did not take hold in China until much later.

In Wang Qingren’s Yilin gaicuo (‘Corrections of Errors in the Forest of Medicine’), which after publication in 1830 became one of the most widely read medical texts in China (as it still is today), we find no mention of a term for ‘nerve’. Dr. Wang, however, recorded several anatomical notions that were revolutionary for Chinese medicine and in several ways heralded a period of modernization. For our story it is relevant that he presented anatomical ‘proof’ for what Li Shizhen had claimed in the Bencao gangmu, namely that the brain, and not the heart, was the mansion of the original spirit.


<Yilin gaicuo, Wang Qingren>

It was Benjamin Hobson (1816-1873), a medical missionary from England, who instigated renewed attention for the concept of nerve in China. With his text ‘A New Theory of the Body’ (Quanti xinlun, published in 1851) he had considerably more influence than Schreck. In the chapter on the brain and the nervous system, he introduced the term 腦氣筋 [nǎoqìjīn], which literally translates as ‘brain – qi – sinew’, that is, the sinew through which brain qi travels.


<Quanti xinlun>

Although China was in the middle of a modernization movement, in the beginning of the 20th century, the concept of the nerve was still not easy for the Chinese to digest. Of the twelve different words that had been invented for ‘nerve’ since the beginning of the 17th century, five made it to the shortlist of a terminology committee meeting held in Shanghai in 1916. The purpose of that meeting was to standardize Chinese terms for numerous scientific concepts coming from the West and biomedicine was the most important subject. The term for ‘nerve’ was debated for over two hours before 腦經 ‘brain channel’ or ‘brain tract’ topped 神經 ‘spirit channel’ by eight votes to seven.

Why did it take 300 years for the concept of nerves to take hold in China?

1. It was not particularly relevant for Chinese medicine.

2. It was associated with the Western notion of ‘volition’. The Greek term for ‘motor nerves’ was, translated literally, ‘capable of choosing, purposive’. The action of nerves was inseparable from exercise of will. In the West, volitional action was a crucial defining feature of identity. For the Chinese, who did not hold such a view of identity, the idea of incorporating nerves into medical theory was not attractive.


<Theatrum Anatomicum>

The term 神經 came to China via a different route. It was introduced in 1902 as a translation of the Japanese shinkei, which is written with the same characters. In 1774 it was coined by a Japanese doctor trained in Chinese medicine. He came up with the word after studying a post-Vesalian Dutch text on anatomy.

The story of the Japanese doctor resembles that of Wang Qingren. He went to an execution ground to observe the dissection of a cadaver in order to see whether the illustrations in the Dutch text made sense. When he was convinced that they did, he formed a translation group to study and translate the text, and that text is seen as the seed of biomedicine in Japan. He judged that the Dutch term zenuw (nerve) corresponded with keimyako經脈 [jīngmài], channels and vessels, and the term zenuw-vogt (nervous fluid), he argued, pointed to shinki神氣 [shénqì].

神氣 in Chinese medicine can mean several things: 1. spirit, vigor 2. In the Neijing, ‘spirit qì’ refers to the spirit, channel qì, right qì, the blood, and the yáng qì of the bowels and viscera. < Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine>. It is interesting to note that the Dutch word ‘zenuw’ (nerve) is directly related to the English word ‘sinew’.

Combining 神氣 and 經脈, our Japanese doctor-translator formed the neologism shinkei 神經 which consists of the first part of these two terms. Historians have not found evidence that the Chinese of the early 20th century were aware of the history of the term (namely that qì was part of its original full version), and argue that that is one of the reasons they favoured 腦經 [nǎojīng] as translation of ‘nerve’ in 1916.

Another note is that the word 神經 [shénjīng] already existed in classical Chinese as a designation for a genre of esoteric books. The Japanese shinkei 神經 is a new construction, derived from words unrelated to that classical meaning.

In the text mentioned below Hugh Shapiro asks the important question: Why then, did they eventually adopt the term 神經 [shénjīng] for ‘nerve’? According to Shapiro the reason can be found in the fact that thousands of Chinese trained in Japan and came back to China with Japan’s analysis of biomedicine in their luggage – accompanied by the terminology the Japanese used. Biomedicine (a.k.a. Western medicine) rapidly gained ground as part of the movement in China to modernize and catch up with the West. But more importantly, the Chinese were interested in the pathology of the nerves – a thing that was never described by the Jesuits who introduced the anatomy. And the Japanese doctors instructed the Chinese in nerve pathology as they had translated it from biomedicine.


<brain dissection, Japan, 18th century>

The concept of nerves as such did not appeal to the Chinese medical professionals (they didn’t really need it) but when they studied the illness neurasthenia as described by the biomedical literature of that time, they connected it to their understanding of depletion. In fact, neurasthenia, in Japanese shinkei shuijaku and Chinese 神經衰弱 [shénjīng shuāiruò], became much more important in China than in the countries where the idea originated but soon was discarded. Also, the foreign idea of ‘nervousness’ became very common in 20th century China.

Shapiro further argues that this can inform us that the Chinese and Western concepts of emotional and corporeal depletion were rather close, and that this is often overlooked when the differences between the two medical systems are discussed.

I might add that the ideas about several pathologies as described by Wang Qingren in connection to his, for China, rather new and revolutionary ideas about the brain and other anatomical parts, have contributed to the development of a more open view in Chinese medicine towards ‘facts’ instead of rigidly adhering to ‘theories’ only.


<Utriusque Cosmi …, Robert Fludd, early 17th century>


– Hugh Shapiro’s contribution in: ‘Medicine Across Cultures: History and Practice of Medicine in Non-Western Cultures’, a collection of essays edited by Helaine Selin (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003)

– Bridie Andrews’ Introduction in Yi Lin Gai Cuo – Correcting the Errors in the Forest of Medicine, and the chapter ‘On Brain Marrow’ in that book (published by Blue Poppy Press, 2007)

see also:

– Marta Hanson’s keynote lecture: Jesuits and Medicine in the Kangxi Court (1662-1722).

Fast Track version of CMC Online

Chinese Medical Chinese Online:  Fast Track version

Aowen Chinese Medicine offers a ‘fast track’ version of CMC Online.  It is meant for those students who already have basic knowledge of Chinese language, some knowledge of Chinese medical terminology, and who want to begin their studies of Classical Chinese without the need to follow Block A in a regular class.

This fast track course prepares you to study Blocks B & C where we focus on learning the grammar needed to read classical medical texts.

Fast Track contents

  • you will receive all the study and reading materials of the 10 assignments of the regular Block A
  • please see Chinese Medical Chinese Online for Block A details
  • you will write three tests, the third one being the final exam of Block A
  • you will receive individual guidance with full access to your teacher

The Block A portion of this Fast Track version of the courses takes about six-seven weeks.  During that time you review the characters and terms covered by Block A:  Chinese Medical Characters, Volume One: Basic Vocabulary plus some additional characters.  Total characters: 110.  The reading materials of Block A will give you a solid foundation to continue your studies in Blocks B & C.


  • You have basic knowledge of Chinese language and Chinese medical terminology.
  • You commit to study CMC Online Blocks B & C in the next available session (or individually).
  • You have Chinese Medical Characters Volume One available (note: we can help you to get started while you are waiting for the book)


The next session of Blocks B & C will start April 2022.  However, we can offer you the option to study B & C individually.   You can work at your own pace but have to finish the three tests (and pass the exam: the third test) before starting at the B & C portion of the course.


The price of the Block A (review) part of this Fast Track version of the course is $ 475 (US dollars), due at the beginning of the course.  The total (including Blocks B & C) will be $ 2,225.   Your fee is refundable only if the course is cancelled.

Continuing Education Units

Contact your teacher Nicolaas via if you are curious to know what we can do regarding continuing education credits.

For further information also please do not hesitate to contact Nicolaas (

蓖麻 [bìmá] castor plant: bean, oil, leaf, root


蓖麻 [bìmá], castor plant – Ricinus communis

I first learned about castor oil as avid gardener in gopher-terrorized areas.  After finding my shining chard plants flattened by those garden monsters for the umptieth time, one of the methods I used was to spray the soil with a mixture of castor oil and water.  As gophers hate to crawl through the oily soil and also dislike the odor, it helped for a couple of weeks or until the next rain.

When I first grew castor from seed, I could not plant them out because I lived on a farm with goats and we were worried about the risk of poisoning those curious browsers.  On another farm where deer were a major problem I grew castor and tobacco plants in fencerows as extra deterrents.

Tick Hemp :  Some notes on names and history

Another name of the plant is Palma Christi, which means ‘the palm of Christ’ and could refer to the ability of castor oil to heal wounds.  The shape of the leaves resemble the palm of the hand.   The Latin word castor means beaver and that name derives from castoreum, a perfume base made from the dried perineal glands of that animal.  Castor oil replaced castoreum in that usage.  The older name, ricinus, is also Latin and means tick.  Some sources claim that it refers to a tick-like small outgrowth on one end of the seed, but others say that you can see the whole bean as the swollen body of the tick and the little outgrowth as its head.  I find the last the most likely.

Interestingly, the Chinese character variants [bī, pí, pī] ‘[ox] louse’ and [pí] ‘tick’ for the character  in 蓖麻 are found in several old texts.  Some authors indeed mention that the plant is named ‘tick’ because of the shape of the bean.  This could point to the way and time the castor plant was introduced in China.  The explanation for the use of in the name is that the leaves resemble those of the hemp plant – 大麻 [dàmá].

The earliest usage of castor seeds we know of was in ancient Egypt.  Seeds from around 4.000 B.C. have been found in tombs and it is documented (and translated) in the Ebers Papyrus.  The Greek travel-writer Herodotus mentions the castor plant and describes the usages of castor oil in Egypt in his Histories.  From that time and document stems the name sounding {kiki} or {kouki} (which is how the Egyptians called it).  In the Bible, kikayon (קִיקָיוֹן) is the Hebrew name of a plant mentioned in the Book of Jonah and that is believed to refer to the castor plant as well.  The Arabs called it {elkherod}.  Like in ancient Egypt, castor bean oil was used as lamp oil in India as well.  It also plays an important role in Ayurvedic medicine and India is currently by far the world’s largest producer of the substance.   

Medicinal usages: Chinese medicine

As I was admiring the colour, shape, flowers and the process of seed-forming of this plant that grew prolifically (and large!) around gardens I planted, I began to find out more about its medicinal uses.  My specialism is Chinese medicine and the following is an overview of what I learned from Chinese materiae medicae.

Four parts of the castor plant are used in Chinese medicine:

  • 蓖麻子 [bìmázǐ] castor bean (Ricini Semen)
    <alternate names: 蓖麻子肉 [bìmá zǐròu] and 蓖麻仁 [bìmárén]>
  • 蓖麻油 [bìmáyóu] castor oil (Ricini Oleum)
  • 蓖麻叶 [bìmáyè] castor plant leaf (Ricini Folium)
  • 蓖麻根 [bìmágēn] castor plant root (Ricini Radix)

First, the bean: the seed of the plant that is formed in this beautiful stage of its life:

The seeds are harvested after the capsules (spiky fruit shells also known as pericarp) turn brown in autumn and dried in the sun until they can be cracked open easily.  The bean-like seeds are then peeled out of the capsules and dried some more if necessary.  Then, they can be stored for a long time.  If dried thoroughly you can also store the seeds without taking them out of the capsules.

蓖麻子 [bìmázǐ], castor bean – Ricini Semen

Key information from the Chinese materia medica 中药大辞典 [Zhōngyào dà cídiǎn] with addenda from other Chinese materiae medicae:

Nature and flavour

  • sweet and acrid, balanced; toxic
  • one source has ‘slightly toxic’ and another notes the flavour as ‘bitter’

Actions and indications

  • disperses swelling and draws toxin
  • drains, precipitates and frees stagnation

and treats:

  • swelling and toxin of welling-abscess and flat-abscess (including mammary welling-abscess, the equivalent of acute mastitis in biomedicine)
  • knocks and falls (‘die da’, ‘dit da’ or ‘hit medicine’)
  • scrofula
  • hemiplegia (half-body paralysis): deviated eyes and mouth, clenched jaw with loss of speech (external use)
  • head wind with deafness; distended tongue with throat impediment
  • phlegm panting
  • leg qi
  • poison swelling and vermilion tumor (丹瘤 [dān liú])
  • water swelling and abdominal fullness
  • dry bound stool

Other indications are water concretion-illness (水癥) and generalized itching sores and puffy swelling.  For several of the indications listed above, the seeds are ground to powder.  Applications made with that powder can also be used for sores in general.  Doctors noted good results for sores from scab and lai < lài>, for instance.  The medical literature widely acknowledges the pus-expelling, toxin-drawing and pain-relieving power of the castor bean.

Since it has the ability to discharge stagnant matter, some sources mention its use to promote childbirth and afterbirth (in one source, application of ground castor seeds to the palm of the hands and sole of the feet ‘hastens delivery’), and to dislodge surplus bone matter, pus and blood [clots].

It is contraindicated in pregnancy and in diarrhoea or loose stools.

The Hong Kong Chinese Materia Medica Standards (香港中藥材標準) has a monograph on castor bean with microphotography, information about chemistry, quality testing, etc. in a  Chinese version  and an English version.

At the very end of this overview you can find lengthy excerpts from Chinese materiae medicae that contain information on chemistry as well.

Tang Zonghai writes in his Bencao wenda (see article for an introduction to that text):

Bādòu and bìmázǐ (castor bean) both contain oil, and both are lubricating and can precipitate stool.

The flavor of castor bean is acrid and its qi is warm. This means that it has qi to move its oily-slippery nature; therefore, its movement is rapid.

The context here is the oil derived from the beans.  There is some overlap in the medicinal usages of the bean and the oil as you will see from the following.

Image result for castor oil


蓖麻油 [bìmáyóu], castor oil – Ricini Oleum

Nature and flavor

  • sweet, acrid, balanced; toxic

Actions and indications

  • moistens the intestines and frees the stool and is used for intestinal dryness with constipation
  • sores, scab and burns
  • hemiplegia: internal use (see formula below)
  • see also the list under castor bean above

Tang Zonghai writes:


The use of both dāngguī’s warm moistening and bādòu’s acrid moistening [properties] in cold bound stool implies treating dryness that [results from] fire failing to steam water.  When western medicine employs bìmáyoú (castor oil) to free the large intestine this also is a method for warm moistening.  [These methods] all treat cold-dryness.  It is a rather rare pattern; the pattern of fire-dryness occurs more frequently.

Sun Simiao mentions a formula that contains castor oil in his Qian jin fang千金方, in the section on 偏風 [piānfēng], hemilateral wind.

蓖麻子脂一升 酒一斗 銅缽盛 脂著酒中 一日煮之令熟服之

Fill a copper bowl with one sheng of castor seed oil and one dou of liquor, adding the oil to the liquor.  Boil for one day and ingest after it is cooked.

Li Shizhen describes several formulae that include castor seed oil from various sources in his Bencao gangmu 本草綱目 (Chinese text of the entry on 蓖麻 is a the end of this post).


This website has a wealth of information on various uses and applications of castor oil in our world, with a focus on industry and economics, chemistry and chemical engineering, the extraction process, etc.:

Another interesting webpage on the plant is The Castor Bean .


蓖麻叶 [bìmáyè], castor plant leaf – Ricini Folium

Nature and flavor

  • bitter, acrid, balanced; slightly toxic / toxic

Actions and indications

  • dispels wind and eliminates dampness
  • draws toxin and disperses swelling

and treats:

  • leg qi
  • wind swelling numbness
  • nosebleed (smear with oil, heat up, place on fontanel)
  • scrotal swelling and pain
  • phlegm panting and cough
  • malign sores

蓖麻根 [bìmágēn], castor plant root – Ricini Radix

Nature and flavor

  • bland, slightly warm
  • other sources have: acrid, balanced; slightly toxic

Actions and indications

  • dispels wind and dissipates stasis
  • settles and resolves tetany
  • quickens blood and dispels swelling

and treats:

  • epilepsy
  • welling-abscess swelling and sore-toxin
  • stasis pain from knocks and falls
  • scrofula
  • prolapse of the uterus and of the rectum



Chinese language sources

Extracts from Chinese materiae medicae in order of appearance:

  • 1. Bencao gangmu entry: 1.A. seed and 1.B. leaf
  • 2. Other materiae medicae:  A. seed   B. oil   C. leaf  and D. root

With my apologies for remaining typos or other errors in the texts.

1. 本草纲目: 蓖麻

时珍曰∶蓖亦作螕。螕 [bī, pí, pī] 蜱 [pí],牛虱也。其子有麻点,故名蓖麻。
【集解】恭曰∶此人间所种者,叶似大麻 [dàmá] 叶而甚大,结子如牛蜱。今胡中来者,茎赤,高丈余,子大如皂荚核,用之亦良。
颂曰∶今在处有之。夏生苗,叶似 草而大浓。茎赤有节如甘蔗,高丈余。秋生细花,随便 时珍曰∶其茎有赤有白,中空。其叶大如瓠叶,每叶凡五尖。夏秋间丫里抽出花穗,累累黄色。每枝结实数十颗,上有刺,攒簇如 毛而软。凡三、四子合成一颗,枯时劈开,状如巴豆,壳内有子,大如豆。壳有斑点,状如牛 。再去斑壳,中有仁,娇白如续随子仁,有油可作印色及油纸。子无刺者,良;子有刺者,毒
1.A.  子
【修治】 曰∶凡使勿用黑夭赤利子,缘在地蒌上生,是颗两头尖有毒。其蓖麻子,节节有黄黑斑。凡使以盐汤煮半日,去皮取子研用。
又主风虚寒热,身体疮痒浮肿,尸疰恶气,榨取油涂之(《唐本》)。研敷疮痍疥癞。涂手足心,催生(大明)。治瘰 。取子炒熟去皮,每卧时嚼服二三枚,渐加至十数枚,有效(宗 )。主偏风不遂,口眼 斜,失音口噤,头风耳聋,舌胀喉痹,痰喘脚气,毒肿丹瘤 [dān liú],汤火伤,针刺入肉,毒(时珍)。
时珍曰∶蓖麻仁甘辛有毒热,气味颇近巴豆,亦能利人,故下水气。其性善走,能开通诸窍经络,故能治偏风、失音口噤、口目 斜、头风七窍诸病,不止于出有形之物而已。盖鹈鹕油能引药气入内,蓖麻油能拔病气出外,故诸膏多用之。一人病偏风,手足不举。时珍用此油同羊脂、麝香、鲮鲤甲等药,煎作摩膏,日摩数次,一月余渐复。兼服搜风化痰养血之剂,三月而愈。一人病手臂一块肿痛,亦用蓖麻捣膏贴之,一夜而愈。一人病气郁偏头痛,用此同乳香、食盐捣 太阳穴,一夜痛止。一妇产后子肠不收,捣仁贴其丹田,一夜而上。
口目 斜∶蓖麻子仁捣膏,左贴右,右贴左,即正。《妇人良方》∶用蓖麻子仁七七粒,研作 饼,右 安在左手心;左 ,安在右手心,却以铜盂盛热水坐药上,冷即换,五一方∶用蓖麻子仁七七粒,巴豆十九粒,麝香五分,作饼如上用。
风气头痛不可忍者∶乳香、蓖麻仁等分,捣饼随左右贴太阳穴,解发出气,甚验。《德生堂 方》∶用蓖麻油纸剪花,贴太阳亦效。又方∶蓖麻仁半两,枣肉十五枚,捣涂纸上,卷筒插入鼻中,下清涕即止。
八种头风∶蓖麻子、刚子各四十九粒(去壳),雀脑芎一大块。捣如泥,糊丸弹子大,线穿挂 风处阴干。用时先将好末茶调成膏子涂盏内,后将炭火烧前药烟起,以盏覆之。待烟尽,以百沸葱汤点盏内茶药服之。后以绵被裹头卧,汗出避风。(《袖珍方》)
舌胀塞口∶蓖麻仁四十粒,去壳研油涂纸上,作燃烧烟熏之。未退再熏,以愈为度。有人舌 肿退场门外,一村人用此法而愈。(《经验良方》)
水气胀满∶蓖麻子仁研,水解得三合。清旦一顿服尽,日中当下青黄水也。或云壮人止可服 五粒。(《外台秘要》)
催生下胞∶崔元亮《海上集验方》∶取蓖麻子七粒,去壳研膏,涂脚心。若胎及衣下,便速 洗去。不尔则子肠出,即以此膏涂顶,则肠自入也。《肘后方》云∶产难,取蓖麻子十四枚,每手各把七枚,须臾立下也。
子宫脱下∶蓖麻子仁、枯矾等分,为末,安纸上托入。仍以蓖麻子仁十四枚,研膏涂顶心 即入。(《摘玄》)
催生下胎,不拘生胎死胎∶蓖麻二个,巴豆一个,麝香一分,研贴脐中并足心。又下生胎,一月一粒,温酒吞下。(《集简方》)一切毒肿,痛不可忍∶蓖麻子仁捣敷,即止也。(《肘后方》)疠风鼻塌,手指挛曲,节间痛不可忍,渐至断落∶用蓖麻子一两(去皮),黄连一两(锉 豆大)。以小瓶子入水一升,同浸。春夏三日,秋冬五日后,取蓖麻子一枚劈破,面东以浸药水吞之。渐加至四、五枚,微利不妨。瓶中水尽更添。两月后吃大蒜、猪肉试之,如不发是 小儿丹瘤∶蓖麻子五个,去皮研。入面一匙,水调涂之,甚效。(《修真秘旨》)
瘰 结核∶蓖麻子炒去皮,每睡时服二三枚,取效。一生不可吃炒豆。(《阮氏经验方》)
瘰 恶疮及软疖∶用白胶香一两,瓦器溶化,去滓,以蓖麻子六十四个,去壳研膏,溶胶投 之,搅匀,入油半匙头,柱点水中试软硬,添减胶油得所,以绯帛量疮大小摊贴,一膏可治三五疖也 肺风面疮起白屑,或微有赤疮∶用蓖麻子仁四十九粒,白果、胶枣各三粒,瓦松三钱,肥皂 一个,捣为丸。洗面用之良。(吴 《面上雀斑∶蓖麻子仁、密陀僧、硫黄各一钱,为末。用羊髓和匀,夜夜敷之。(《摘玄方》)
1.B.   叶
喘痰嗽∶《儒门事亲》方∶用九尖蓖麻叶三钱,入飞过白矾二钱。以猪肉四两薄批,掺药 在内,荷叶裹之,文武火煨熟。细嚼,以白汤送下。名九仙散。《普济方》∶治咳嗽涎喘,不问年深日近。用经霜蓖麻叶、经霜桑叶、御米壳(蜜炒)各一两。为末,蜜丸弹子大。每服一丸,白汤化下,日一服,名无忧丸。
【附录】博落回(《拾遗》) 藏器曰∶有大毒。主恶疮瘿根,瘤赘息肉,白癜风,蛊毒精魅,溪毒疮 。和百丈青、鸡桑灰等分,为末敷之。蛊毒精魅当别有法。生江南山谷。茎叶如蓖麻。茎中空,吹之作声如博落回。折之有黄汁,药人立死,不可轻用入口。

2. other materiae medicae:

A. seed
【拼音名】bì má zi
【来源】本品为大戟科植物蓖麻 Ricinus communis L.的干燥成熟种子。秋季采摘成熟果实,晒干,除去果壳,收集种子。


【拼音名】bì má zi

【拼音名】bì má zi
【英文名】Castor Bean
【来源】药材基源:为大戟科植物蓖麻的种子。拉丁植物动物矿物名:Ricinus communis L.采收和储藏:当年8-11月蒴果呈棕色、未开裂时,先晴天,分批剪下果序,摊晒,脱粒,扬净。
【原形态】蓖麻 高大一年生草本,在热带或南方地区常成多年生灌木或小乔木。幼嫩部分被白粉,绿色或稍呈紫色,无毛。单叶互生,具长柄;叶片盾状圆形,直径15-60cm,有时大至90cm,掌状分裂至叶片的一半以下,裂片5-11,卵状披针形至长圆形,先端渐尖,边缘有锯齿,主脉掌状。圆锥花序与叶对生及顶生,长10-30cm或更长,下部生雄花,上部生雌花;花瓣性同株,无花瓣;雄花萼3-5裂;雄蕊多数,花丝多分枝;雌花萼3-5理解;子房3室,每室1胚珠;花柱3,深红色,2裂。蒴果球形,长1-2cm,有软刺,成熟时开裂,种子长圆形,光滑有斑纹。花期5-8月,果期7-10月。
【栽培】生物学特性 喜温暖湿润气候,生长适宜温度为20-28℃出苗至成熟积温2000-3500℃,种子发芽温度不低于10℃,生长温度超过35℃则生长受阻,幼苗遇春寒-8-1℃时或遇秋寒-2–3℃受冻害。苗期土壤含水量12%-14%,花果期土壤含水量15%-20%。出苗至果实成熟需85-115d。耐干旱,耐盐碱及弱酸土壤。以阳光充足、土层深厚、疏松肥沃、排水良好的土壤栽培为宜。栽培技术 种子繁殖:选粒大、饱满、充分成熟的种子,用45-50℃温水种24h左右捞出,摊置于20℃的室内催芽,待种子露白后,北方4月旬,南方2-3月播种,穴播,按行株距各65cm-100cm开穴播粒,覆土,稍加镇压,浇水。田间管理 出苗后,苗高12-15cm时要间苗、补苗,苗高25cm时定苗,每穴留壮苗2-3株,并结合松土除草、培土,施人畜粪肥,6-7月再施1次,适当增施磷、钾肥。有6片真叶时,摘去主茎顶芽,促使侧枝生长。整枝修剪,控制植株生长,剥芽保花,去掉未成花序的腋芽,7月剪去营养枝,促秋籽成熟。对多看生蓖麻,可砍伐更新,离地面30cm左右,浆主干或一级枝锯伐,保留3-4个侧芽,培育亲枝。病虫害防治 病害有根腐病,为害植株根部,使之发黑呈水渍状腐烂,植株枯萎,可喷撒石灰或70%五氯硝基苯粉剂,并及时开沟排除积水。虫害有红蜘蛛,为害嫩梢,可喷20%三氯杀螨砜可湿性粉剂600倍液呀用烟草石灰水防治。另有叶蟑、土老虎、棉铃虫、刺蛾、蓖麻夜蛾为害。
【性状】性状鉴别 种子椭圆形或卵形,稍扁,长0.9-1.8cm,宽0.5-1cm。表面光滑,有灰白色与黑褐色或黄棕色与红棕色相间的花斑纹。一面较平,一面较隆起,较平的一面有1条隆起的种脊;一端有灰白色或浅棕色突起的种阜。种皮薄而脆,胚乳肥厚,白色,富油性。子叶2,菲薄。无臭。味微苦辛。以个大、饱满者为佳。显微鉴别 种子横切面:外种皮细胞1列,长方形,外被角质层,其下为3-4列薄壁细胞,再下为1列栅状细胞,壁厚,木化;内种皮为数列薄壁细胞,其中散有螺纹导管。胚乳和子叶均含糊粉粒。
【化学成份】种子含蛋白质(protein)18%-26%,脂肪油(oil)64%-71%,碳水化合物(carbohydrate)2%,酚性物质(phe-nolic dubstance)2.50%,蓖麻毒蛋白(ricin)及蓖麻碱(ricinine)0.087%-0.15%。脂肪油的组成绝大部分为三酸甘油(甘油三酯,triglyceride)及甘油酯(glycerol ester),还有少量的甾醇(sterol),磷脂(phospholipid),游离脂肪酸(free fattyacid),碳氢化合物(hydrocarbon)及蜡(wax),甘油酯的脂肪酸中蓖麻油酸(ricinoleic acid)84%-91%,油酸(oleic acid)3.l%-5.9%,亚油酸(linoleic acid)2.9%-6.5%,硬脂酸(stearic acid)1.4%-2.1%,棕榈酸(palmitic acid)0.9%-1.5%;磷脂含量0%-0.12%,其中磷脂酸乙醇胺(phosphatidyl ethanolamine)及其降解产物占83%,磷脂酰胆碱(phosphatidyl choline)占13%,其他磷脂占4%;磷脂的脂肪酸组成为:棕榈酸(27.7%),硬脂酸(12.9%),油酸(18.5%),亚油酸(33.2%)而不含蓖麻油酸;游离脂肪酸含量0.3%,其中蓖麻油酸占78.5%,十八碳二烯酸(octadecadienoic acid)占8.4%,+八碳烯酸(octadecenoic acid)占5.2%;蓖麻毒蛋白有蓖麻毒蛋白D,酸性蓖麻毒蛋白(acidicricin),碱性蓖麻毒蛋白(basic ricin),蓖麻毒蛋白E及蓖麻毒蛋白T等。种子还含凝集素(agglutinin)和脂肪酶(lipase)。种皮含30-去甲羽扇豆-3β-醇-20-酮(30-norlupan-3β-ol-20-one)。
【药理作用】1.抗肿瘤作用:1.1.对实验肿瘤的作用:蓖麻毒蛋白对体外培养的多种肿瘤细胞株和变异细胞株均十分敏感,0.002-0.3mcg/ml可以抑制淋巴腺瘤SI、BW5147、MBC2、EL2,骨髓瘤P3、C1、RBC5、S117、S194、J588、MOPC315/P和骨髓样白血病C1498的生长。蓖麻毒蛋白亦能抑制体外培养的正常细胞和各种动物肿瘤细胞。实验还证明它对病毒致变异的成纤维细胞(SV3T3)比对正常3T3细胞更为敏感。蓖麻毒蛋白对小鼠艾氏腹水癌、腹水肝癌。宫颈癌U14、肉瘤S180及白血病等动物移植性肿瘤均有一定治疗作用。于接种后1,3天ip 7.5mcg/kg,能够完全抑制艾氏腹水癌细胞生长,使小鼠生存时间延长。一次ip蓖麻毒蛋白25mcg/kg,48小时后可使癌细胞减少90%;96小时后几乎所有的癌细胞形态发生如下改变:细胞膨胀,核出现空泡及有丝分裂停止,胞浆暗染、周围亦出现不规则的空泡等。1.2.作用原理:蓖麻毒蛋白可以强烈抑制各种癌细胞的蛋白质合成,中等强度抑制 DNA合成,而对RNA合成的抑制轻微。据蓖麻毒蛋白对家兔网织细胞溶胞产物(Iysaie)的无细胞系统(Cell一free system)蛋白质合成有强烈的抑制作用,证明了它不是影响癌细胞的醣代谢或氨基酸的提取,而是强烈地抑制真核生物核蛋白体的蛋白质合成。蓖麻毒蛋白具有二个肽链,由S一S链相联。发生作用前有一个裂解过程,裂解后释放出A链和B链,A链称之为效应链(Effectoner);B链称之为结合链(Haptomer)·B链可以与细胞表面的碳水化物受体结合,把游离的A链或者整个毒蛋白分子通过质膜带入胞浆,与核蛋白体60-S亚基发生作用,抑制氨基酰 t-RNA与核蛋白体的酶结合,使核酸的延伸因子减少,从而使核酸失活,抑制蛋白质合成,并导致细胞死亡。与蓖麻毒蛋白相似结构的所有相思豆毒蛋白(Abrin),此类毒蛋白与细胞表面的乳糖残基单糖受结合是共同的,结合部位包括二个以上的糖。用神经氨酸处理细胞,可增加结合部位,已经证明:肿瘤细胞表面的单糖链与正常细胞有区别,其糖蛋白有过多的涎酸,糖脂常含有不完整的链。不完整的链易与毒蛋白结合,此可解释这类毒蛋白的抗癌作用。2.细胞凝集作用:过去大量的资料认为蓖麻毒蛋白在体外对各种动物和人类的红细胞,小肠粘膜细胞,肝细胞及其它细胞,组织悬液均有强烈的凝集作用。但是,近年来发现蓖麻种子里具有凝集活性的物质是无毒的蓖麻血凝素,而蓖麻毒蛋白没有血球凝集作用。蓖麻血凝素的凝集速度除了决定于血凝素和红细胞的量外,还与pH有关,碱性环境有助血凝。该血凝素在发生凝集作用时需要有血清补体参加,这个补体可以互换,例如山羊和豚鼠。该血凝作用除了可以由血清补体活化外,还可由某些还原剂活化,例如半胱氨酸和抗坏血酸。蓖麻血凝素在产生凝集作用的同时还伴有类似于番木瓜蛋白酶的蛋白质水解作用,可能是受体破坏酶的作用。3.热原作用:蓖麻毒蛋白是一个很强的热原物质。它对各种哺乳类动物和人类都具有十分强的致热作用,0.05-0.2mcg/kg 就可以产生热原反应,比其它任何热原都强而持久,潜伏期也长。大鼠sc蓖麻毒蛋白20mcg/kg,3.5小时后体温开始升高,持续时间超过6小时。反复注射可以产生耐受性,但与细菌类热原物质无交叉耐受性。它所造成的热原反应可用阿司匹林。非那西汀等解热。故认为它可作为解热实验的工具药。4.免疫反应:蓖麻毒蛋白具有很强的抗原性,以各种途径进入人体或各种哺乳动物体内可产生抗体和过敏反应,种植蓖麻的农民血液中也有这种抗体,称之为蓖麻毒蛋白抗体,十分稳定,除此之外,还可以使体内非特异抗体升高。此过程中血浆组分发生变化,由于肝毒的作用,白蛋白水平下降,随着肝再生白蛋白水平逐渐上升,a-球蛋白上升,而B-球蛋白下降。说明蓖麻毒蛋白特异地破坏蛋白的合成可以被抗体的作用而减弱;热原反应也可以被抑制。由于蓖麻毒蛋白能产生细胞毒作用,因此,它能抑制巨噬细胞等参与免疫功能的细胞。蓖麻血凝素还能够沉淀免疫球蛋白,完全沉淀IgM;但仅沉淀IgG10%,只与IgG3发生沉淀反应,不与IgG1反应。5.对心血管和呼吸系统的作用:1次iv蓖麻毒蛋白3.2mcg/kg是使麻醉兔产生心、肝、肾中毒反应的临界剂量,小于此量时对心血管及呼吸系统无明显影响。而麻醉猫注射250-500mcg/kg 时,血压立即上升,脉博、呼吸加快或潮气量增。当注射剂量增至30mg/kg 时,血压降至零,心跳停止于舒张期,出现潮式呼吸而死亡;心电图出现R一R间隔延长,P波消失,T波倒置等现象。麻醉猫 iv蓖麻毒蛋白250-500mcg/kg可以轻微的对抗B-受体兴奋剂异丙基肾上腺素。先注射黎 芦碱25mg/kg,然后注射蓖麻毒蛋白可以使肾上腺素、去甲肾上腺素、乙酰胆碱、升压素和组胺的全部药理作用减弱。蓖麻毒蛋白还能降低黎芦碱和尼古丁的反射作用。蓖麻碱也可引起实验动物血压下降,呼吸抑制、可能与其分子中所含氰基有关。蓖麻叶水煎剂可使正常离体蛙心及水合氯醛,麦角浸膏、乙酰胆碱、阿托品、奎宁、氯化钾中毒的蛙心振幅增大。该水煎剂能使犬血压下降,大鼠后肢血管扩张。6.其它作用:蓖麻毒蛋白可以影响体外培养的各类白细胞的呼吸作用。0.3-33mcg/ml可降低单核细胞的耗氧量,,16.6-33.2mcg/ml,可降低淋巴细胞的耗氧量,增加嗜中性粒细胞的耗氧量;当浓度增加至66.6mcg/ml时,嗜中性粒细胞的呼吸亦受抑制。
【毒性】1.毒性:蓖麻子中含蓖麻毒蛋白及蓖麻碱,特别是前者,可引起中毒。4-7岁小儿服蓖麻子2-7被可引起中毒、致死。成人20粒可致死。非洲产蓖麻子2粒可使成人致死,小儿仅需一粒,但也有报告服24粒后仍能恢复者。蓖麻毒蛋白可能是一种蛋白分解酶,7毫克即可使成人死亡。2.蓖麻子中毒后之症状有:头痛、胃肠炎、体温上升、白细胞增多、血象左移、无尿、黄痘、冷汗、须发痉挛、心血管虚脱;中毒症状之发生常有一较长的潜伏期。蓖麻毒蛋白引起大鼠急性中毒,主要产生肝及肾的伤害,碳水化物代谢紊乱,蓖麻中的凝集素可与血球起凝集作用。湖州农村将蓖麻子炒熟吃未见中毒, 可能由于加热使蓖麻毒蛋白破坏。3.蓖麻子对各种动物的致死量(g/kg)大致如下:母鸡14、母鸭4、母鹅0.4、兔.9、小猪 2.3、猪1.3、奶牛2、小山羊0.5、山羊5.5、绵羊1.25、马0.1。蓖麻毒蛋白对小鼠1次iv的LD50为6-12mcg/kg。武汉健民制药厂生产的蓖麻毒蛋白对小鼠1次iv,LD50为47.97mcg/kg;对家兔1次iv的MTD为3.2mcg/kg;对家免iv每日1次,连续16次的MTD为1.6mcg/kg。小鼠ip或iv致死量的蓖麻毒蛋白后10h至数天内死亡。中毒过程较长至,一般给药 12h后见失重,24h后动物侧卧。有时发生慢性惊挛,呼吸困难,角弓反张,中枢神经失调。于第一次惊挛后3min动物死亡于呼吸麻痹。中毒时常伴有严重腹泻,也可能是使动物死亡的原因之一。4.蓖麻毒蛋白急性,亚急性中毒的动物(大小鼠、豚鼠和家兔等)大多数器官和组织部出现功能和形态的变化。主要毒性反应在肝脏、小肠和内分泌腺体。对肝细胞的破坏作用在内网层,伴随线粒体的轻微改变,从而使肝脏变性坏死。对小肠的损伤亦较严重,是腹泻的主要原因,内分泌系统各器官和组织对蓖麻毒蛋白很敏感,可使动物的下丘脑细胞,肾上腺、垂体、胸腺、睾丸、卵巢、胰腺以及淋巴组织等发生出血性坏死和退行性变。还能损伤网状内皮系统及引起上颌神经节和胸壁丛的处周神经细胞核染色质破坏。蓖麻毒蛋白中毒的动物血凝时间延长,这是由于干扰醣代谢在降低凝血酶元、凝血激活酶所致,并可使动物红细胞、白细胞总数升高,血糖及尿素水平升高,使血中镁离子浓度降低,钙离子浓度升高,Ca2+:Mg2+到2:1降至7.75 :1,这可能与热原反应有关。蓖麻毒蛋白急性中毒时,动物血液中葡萄糖、肝糖原、总蛋白和红细胞比积均下降,而乳糖、非蛋白氮、氨基酸、无机磷。酸性磷酸盐和乳酸、丙酮酸升高,肝功能(SGOT、SGPT、LDH)发生紊乱。可见,蓖麻毒蛋白急性中毒时血液学变化与慢性中毒时略有差别。蓖麻子中蓖麻碱160mg或蓖麻毒蛋白7mg均可导致成人死亡。有人认为蓖麻毒蛋白比氢氰酸的毒性大22倍,它1g可使3600人死亡。
【鉴别】理化鉴别 (1)取本品(带种皮)粉末约0.5g,加50%乙醇5ml,冷浸2h,滤过。取滤液蒸至约0.5ml,用毛细管滴于滤纸上,喷以茚三酮试液,烘至现紫红色斑点。(检查氨基酸)(2)取本品粉末1g,加盐酸水溶液(PH2)10ml,沸浸30min,滤过。滤液浓缩至1.5ml,分为3份,分别于小试管中滴加碘化铝钾、碘化汞钾、碘一碘化钾试液各2滴,分别产生橘红、棕、棕红色沉淀。(检查生物碱)
【附方】①治疗疮脓: 蓖麻子二十多颗,去壳,和少量食盐、稀饭捣匀,敷患处,日换两次。 (《福建民间草药》)②治痈疽初起: 去皮蓖麻干一份,松香四份。 将蓖麻子捣碎加入松香粉充分搅拌,用开水搅成糊状,置于冷水中冷却成膏状备用。用时将白膏药按疮面大小摊于纸或布上贴患处。(辽宁《中草药新医疗法资料选编》)③治瘰疠: 蓖麻子炒熟,去皮,烂嚼/陆睡服三、二枚,渐加至十数枚。 (《本草衍义》)④治咽中疮肿:萆麻子一枚(去皮),朴硝一钱。 同研,新汲水作一服,连进二、三服效。 (《医准》)⑤治喉痈: 萆麻子,取肉捶碎,纸卷作简,烧烟吸之。(《医学正传》圣烟筒)⑥治诸骨哽: 蓖麻子七粒。去壳研细,入寒水石末,缠令干湿得所,以竹篱子挑二、三钱入喉中,少顷以水咽之即下。(《魏氏家藏方》)⑦治疠风,手指挛曲,节间痛不可忍,渐至断落: 蓖麻一两(去皮),黄连一两(锉如豆)。 以小瓶子入水一升,同浸,春夏三日,秋冬五日,后取蓖麻子一枚,肇彼,以浸药水,平旦时一服,渐加至四、五枚,微利不妨,瓶中水少更添。忌动风食。(《医准功⑧治汤火伤: 蓖麻子、蛤粉等分。研膏。汤损用油调涂,火疮用水调徐。(《养生必用方》)⑨治犬咬伤: 蓖麻子五十粒。去壳,以井水研膏,先以盐水洗咬处,次以萆麻膏贴。 (《袖珍方》)⑩治风气头痛不可忍: 乳香、蓖麻仁等分。捣饼,随左右贴太阳穴。 (《纲目》)(11)治小儿癫疝: 蓖麻仁三枚,棘刚子(去皮)三十枚,石燕子(烧)一枚,滑石(末)二钱巴,扇香(研)半钱巴。上五昧捣研习,稀面糊和丸,如绿豆大,每服十五丸,空心,煎灯心汤下。(《圣济总录》蓖麻丸)(12)治助喘咳嗽: 蓖麻子去壳炒熟,拣甜看吃,多服见效。(《卫生易简方》)(13)治难产及胞衣不下: 蓖麻子七枚。研如膏,涂脚底心,子及衣才下,便速洗去。 (《海上集验方》)(14)催生并死胎不下: 蓖麻子三个,巴豆四个。研细,入麝香少许,贴脐心上。 (《卫生家宝方》)(15)治子宫脱下: 蓖麻仁、枯矾等分。为末,安纸上托人,仍以蓖麻仁十四枚,研膏涂顶心。 (《摘元方》)(16)治暴患脱肛: 蓖麻子一两。烂杆为膏,捻作讲子,两指宽大,贴囱上;女口朋证脱肛,生附子末、葱、蒜同研作膏,依前法贴之。(《活幼心书》蓖麻膏)(17)治口眼歪斜: 蓖麻子仁七粒。研作末,右歪安在左手心,左歪安在右手心,却以铜盂盛热水。坐药上,冷即换,五、六次即正也。 (《妇人良方》)

B. oil


【拼音名】bì má yóu
【来源】本品为大戟科植物蓖麻 Ricinus communis L.的成熟种子经榨取并精制得到的脂肪油。


【拼音名】bì má yóu


【拼音名】bì má yóu
【英文名】Castor oil
【来源】药材基源:为大戟科植物蓖麻Ricinus communis L.的种子所榨取的脂肪油。拉丁植物动物矿物名:Ricinus communis L.
【原形态】蓖麻 高大一年生草本,在热带或南方地区常成多年生灌木或小乔木。幼嫩部分被白粉,绿色或稍呈紫色,无毛。单叶互生,具长柄;叶片盾状圆形,直径15-60cm,有时大至90cm,掌状分裂至叶片的一半以下,裂片5-11,卵状披针形至长圆形,先端渐尖,边缘有锯齿,主脉掌状。圆锥花序与叶对生及顶生,长10-30cm或更长,下部生雄花,上部生雌花;花瓣性同株,无花瓣;雄花萼3-5裂;雄蕊多数,花丝多分枝;雌花萼3-5理解;子房3室,每室1胚珠;花柱3,深红色,2裂。蒴果球形,长1-2cm,有软刺,成熟时开裂,种子长圆形,光滑有斑纹。花期5-8月,果期7-10月。
【性状】性状鉴别 本品为几乎无色或微带黄色的澄清粘稠液体;气微,味淡而后微辛。
【化学成份】蓖麻油脂肪酸部分主要含顺式-蓖麻酸(ricinoleic acid),还含棕榈酸(palmitic acid),梗脂酸(stearic acid),花生酸(arachidic acid),油酸(oleic acid),亚油酸(lioleic acid),亚麻酸(linoleinic acid),二羟基硬脂酸(dihydroxystearic acid),甘油酯的组成为三蓖麻酸酯(triricnolein),二蓖麻酸酯类(diricinoleins),单蓖麻酸酯类(monoricinoleins)及非蓖麻酸酯类(nonricnoleins)等。
【鉴别】理化鉴别 (1)本品为几乎无色或微带黄色的澄清粘稠液体;气微,味淡而后微辛。(2)相对密度 在25℃时应为0.956-0.969。(3)折光率 应为1.478-1.480。(4)酸值 应不大于2.0。(5)皂化值 应为176-186。(6)碘值 应为82-90。(7)检查他种油类 取本品1g,加乙醇4ml,应澄清溶解,再加乙醇15ml,溶液不得发生浑浊。
①治煨退风半身不遂,失音不语者: 蓖麻子脂一升。酒一斗,铜钵盛,脂着酒中,一日,煮之令熟,服之。《干=>千金方》
②治舌上出血: 蓖麻子油纸拈,烧烟熏鼻中。《摘元方》
③治舌胀塞口: 蓖麻仁四十粒,去壳研油,涂纸上,作拈,烧烟熏之,未退再熏,以愈为度。有入舌肿出口外,一人用此法而愈。《经验良方》
④治烧伤: 3~5%漂白粉上清液、蓖麻油各等量混匀呈乳状液。涂于患处,需要时隔日换药。《全展选编·外科》

C. leaf

Information extracted from 《中药大辞典》:
【拼音名】bì má yè
Information extracted from《中华本草》:
【拼音名】bì má yè
【英文名】Castor Leaf
【来源】药材基源:为大戟科植物蓖麻Ricinus communis L.的叶。拉丁植物动物矿物名:Ricinus commusnis L.采收和储藏:夏、秋季采摘,鲜用或晒干。
【原形态】蓖麻 高大一年生草本,在热带或南方地区常成多年生灌木或小乔木。幼嫩部分被白粉,绿色或稍呈紫色,无毛。单叶互生,具长柄;叶片盾状圆形,直径15-60cm,有时大至90cm,掌状分裂至叶片的一半以下,裂片5-11,卵状披针形至长圆形,先端渐尖,边缘有锯齿,主脉掌状。圆锥花序与叶对生及顶生,长10-30cm或更长,下部生雄花,上部生雌花;花瓣性同株,无花瓣;雄花萼3-5裂;雄蕊多数,花丝多分枝;雌花萼3-5理解;子房3室,每室1胚珠;花柱3,深红色,2裂。蒴果球形,长1-2cm,有软刺,成熟时开裂,种子长圆形,光滑有斑纹。花期5-8月,果期7-10月。
【性状】性状鉴别 叶片皱缩破碎,完整的叶展平后呈盾状圆形,掌状分裂,深达叶片的一半以上,裂片一般7-9,先端长尖,边缘有不规则的锯齿,齿端具腺体,下面被为白粉。气微,味甘、辛。
【化学成份】蓖麻叶含芸香甙(rutin),槲皮素(quercetin),金丝桃甙(hyperoside),异槲皮甙(isoquercetrin),槲皮素-3-葡萄糖甙(quercetin-3-glucoside),山柰酚(kaempferol),山柰酚-3-芸香糖甙(kaempferol-3-rutinoside),紫云英甙(astragalin),瑞诺甙(reynoutrin),(-)-表儿茶精[(-)-epicatechin],2,5-二羟基苯甲酸(2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid),绿原酸(chlorgenic acid),新绿原酸(neochlorogenic acid),没食子酸(gallic acid),蓖麻碱(ricinine),N-去甲基蓖麻毒蛋白(N-demethylricine),蓖麻毒蛋白(ricine),维生素(vitamin)C,天各酰胺(asparagine),丙氨酸(alanine),蛋氨酸(methionine),脯氨酸(proline),缬氨酸(valine)等。叶油的脂肪酸组成为共轭二烯脂肪酸,主要有油酸(oleicacid),亚麻酸(linolenic acid),β-桐酸(β-elaeostearic acid),亚油酸(linoleic acid),还含饱和脂肪酸等。
【附方】①治脚气初发,从足起至膝腔骨肿痛,及顽痹不仁: 蓖麻叶蒸熟裹之。(《岭南采药录》)②治肾囊肿大疝气痛: 蓖麻叶和盐捣烂,敷脚底涌泉穴。(《岭南采药录》)③治咳嗽痰涎: 蓖麻子叶三钱, 飞过白矾二钱。用猪肉四两,薄批,JI盘利开掺药,荷叶裹,文武火煨熟,细嚼,白汤送下,后用干食压之。 (《儒门事亲》九仙散)④治年深日远,咳嗽涎喘,夜卧不安:经霜桑叶、经霜蓖麻叶、御米壳(去蒂,蜜炒)各一两。上为细末,炼蜜为丸,如弹子大,每服一丸,食后,白汤化下,日进一服。 (《普济方》无忧丸)⑤治鹅掌风: 鲜蓖麻叶,揉软贴患处,干则再易。(《中医药实验研究》)⑥治痈疖已溃: 干蓖麻叶热水浸软贴患处,如有鲜叶更好。 (《中医药实验研究》)


D. root

【拼音名】bì má gēn
【用法用量】 内服:煎汤,0.5~1两;或炖肉食。外用:捣敷。
【拼音名】bì má gēn
【英文名】Castor root, root of Castorbean, root of Castor-oil-plant, root of Palma christi
【来源】药材基源:为大戟科植物蓖麻Ricinus communis L.的根。拉丁植物动物矿物名:Ricinus communis L.采收和储藏:春、秋季采挖,晒干或鲜用。
【原形态】蓖麻 高大一年生草本,在热带或南方地区常成多年生灌木或小乔木。幼嫩部分被白粉,绿色或稍呈紫色,无毛。单叶互生,具长柄;叶片盾状圆形,直径15-60cm,有时大至90cm,掌状分裂至叶片的一半以下,裂片5-11,卵状披针形至长圆形,先端渐尖,边缘有锯齿,主脉掌状。圆锥花序与叶对生及顶生,长10-30cm或更长,下部生雄花,上部生雌花;花瓣性同株,无花瓣;雄花萼3-5裂;雄蕊多数,花丝多分枝;雌花萼3-5理解;子房3室,每室1胚珠;花柱3,深红色,2裂。蒴果球形,长1-2cm,有软刺,成熟时开裂,种子长圆形,光滑有斑纹。花期5-8月,果期7-10月。
【附方】①治破伤风: 红骨蓖麻根四两至半斤,蝉退五钱至一两,九里香一两至二两。水一千毫升煮至二百毫升,分三次口服,每天一剂。儿童剂量酌减。另推管内注射破伤风抗毒素五千至一万单位(儿童三干至穴千单位),一殷只注射一次, 轻型病例可以不用。为控制抽搐可使用少量冬眠药物。 (《广东省医药科技资料选编》)
②治风湿性关节炎,风瘫,四肢酸痛,疯滴: 蓖商根五钱至一两。水煎服。(广州空军《常用中草药手册各)
③治风湿骨痛,跌打瘀痛: 蓖麻干根三至四钱。与它药配伍,水煎服。 (广州部队《常用中草药手册》)
④治瘰疠: 白茎蓖麻根一两,冰糖一两,豆腐一块。开水炖服;渣捣烂敷患处。 (《福建中草药》)
【临床应用】1.治疗癫痫:取红蓖麻根(红茎红叶者)2两,鸡蛋 1-2个,黑醋适量。先将鸡蛋破壳煮熟☆再放人黑醋、蓖麻根水煎服。每日1剂,连服数日。据38例观察,半数病例获近期疗效。有的按方服药3日即停止发作。2.治疗新生儿破伤风:用红蓖麻根每日1.5两,水煎至45ml,3次分服;同时用穿心莲0.7ml,每日2次,肌肉注射。较重病例加用被伤风抗毒素1-2万单位肌注。经治10例,8例治愈(体温正常,无抽搐,能吮奶),2例死亡。未见毒性反应及严重副作用,仅个别出现大便次数增多。此外,红蓖麻根制成注射液(每ml含3-5g),用于小儿支气管肺炎、脑炎等所致的烦躁不安或抽搐,对1-2岁患儿约每次肌注3ml(止痉可用倍量),均有一定效果,亦未发现副作用。又可治疗慢性气管炎,取蓖麻根4两,切碎水煎。每日1剂,10天为一疗程。观察83例,近期控制23例,显效35例,好转25例。




迷迭香 [mídiéxiāng] – rosemary

Growing  迷迭香 [mídiéxiāng]   Rosmarinus officinalis – rosemary

Three beautiful rosemaries are growing in front of my dwelling.  Early this year they were covered by a thick pack of snow.  They were the first plants that showed their green again once the snow began to melt.

We have been using rosemary for our stews and pasta sauces this winter, and I am happy that I can give it a place on the website.  Their emergence from the snow was a great beginning of the year.

The Chinese name of rosemary, 迷迭香 [mídiéxiāng], means literally:

Repeatedly Enchanting Fragrance


Key information from the Chinese materia medica 中药大辞典 [Zhōngyào dà cídiǎn]:

Nature and flavour

acrid; warm (one source says: balanced); non-toxic

Actions and indications

fortifies the stomach

promotes sweating

treats (different kinds of) headache

one source says: calms the spirit

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember”

(Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet).


Rosemary is used ritualistically to remember loved ones that have passed on (see also below).

The use of rosemary to enhance memory has been widely described throughout history and is practiced up to the present.  In ancient Greece, scholars wore it around their necks or in their hair and stuffed it under their pillows at night, all to improve their memory.  And a friend told me that in Israel, rosemary is planted in the gardens of universities for the same purpose.

Shamanistic usage is related to the plant’s ability to heal and ward off evil spirits.  It is often planted in or around a ‘healing circle’.


From Egypt to Dioscorides to Sir Thomas More … & more

Here is a selection of articles that focus on the history of rosemary (I added a citation from each of them):

The Virtues of Rosemary

“Libanotis which the Romans call Rosmarinus & they which plait crowns use it: the shoots are slender, about which are leaves, small, thick, and somewhat long, thin, on the inside white, but on the outside green, of a strong scent. It hath a warming facultie . . .”

<<Citing Dioscorides, De Materia Medica, Book III: 89 A.D.>>

History of the Magical Rosemary Plant

“[…] rosemary was believed to grow only in the gardens of the righteous and
protected one from evil spirits.”

Rosemary, That’s for Remembrance

“[…] a universal symbol of remembrance used to honor those who have passed on. The tradition of laying sprigs of rosemary across the coffin or upon a tombstone dates back to ancient Egypt. ”

Rosemary: An Historic and Useful Herb

“[…] a plant that has been grown for over 5000 years (with dried sprigs found in Egyptian tombs from 3000 B.C.E.), […]”


Medicinal – Chinese medicine

For more information in English on the medicinal use of rosemary, especially related to Chinese medicine, please see:

  • The Energetics of Western Herbs, by Peter Holmes (pp. 340-342 in the third edition)
  • Combining Western Herbs and Chinese Medicine, by Jeremy Ross (pp. 635-650)
  • Western Herbs in Chinese Medicine – Methodology and Materia Medica, by Thomas Avery Garran (pp. 285-290)

Here is the (somewhat abbreviated) entry on rosemary from 中药大辞典 :

【拼音】mí dié xiānɡ
【出处】《本草拾遗》<The 本草拾遗 – Běncǎo shíyí was first published in the 開元 period of the Tang dynasty (713—741).>






歐當歸 [Ōudāngguī] – lovage

Growing 歐當歸 [Ōudāngguī] Levisticum officinale, lovage

‘Love Herb For The People’

In China, lovage is known as 歐當歸 [Ōudāngguī], which literally translates as ‘European Danggui’ , because the root has been used as substitute for Chinese angelica root – 當歸 [dāngguī].  The leaves of the two plants look similar as well.  The most important medicinal actions of the root as described in 中药大辞典 [Zhōngyào dà cídiǎn] are:

  • supplementing and harmonizing the blood
  • regulating menstruation (used for menstrual block and menstrual pain)
  • moistening dryness and lubricating the intestines

It is also used for dizzy head and headache if these are related to blood vacuity.  Welling- and flat-abscesses and sores are also mentioned as indications.

Since the properties of Chinese angelica root are extensively described in English literature elsewhere, this is just a summary.

Note that compared to 當歸 [dāngguī] – Chinese angelica root, 歐當歸 [Ōudāngguī] is relatively weak in medicinal action.

(For the complete entry in Chinese form 中药大辞典, see end of this post)

A monograph in English on lovage can be found in ‘The Energetics of Western Herbs – A Materia Medica Integrating Western and Oriental Herbal Medicine Traditions’ by Peter Holmes. In the second edition, the index page number is 175 but I found it on page 185.


In Holland this widely grown vegetable garden plant is called maggiplant (Maggikraut in Germany and Maggichrut in Switzerland).  I knew ‘maggi’ before I knew the plant because we had it on the dinner table (in a silver container that was specially designed for those bottles, similar to the one in the picture below) whenever we ate soup.  As a liquid seasoning mix it came in a dark brown bottle with Maggi as brandname.  My mother also always kept Maggi cubes in the kitchen to add to home-made soups.

The original German name (before its association with the seasoning products with the brandname Maggi) is Liebstöckel, and in Dutch the other common name is lavas.

Italian: levistico or sedano di monte; French: livèche; Romanian: leuştean; Hungarian: lestyán; Russian: любисток lyubeestok.

A friend from Romania gave some additional information:

<<“Vegeta” or “Maggi” were widely used in my native Romania occasionally when cooking for extra flavouring. However, lovage extract as such, cannot be defined by these products. My parents and grandmothers were using lovage a lot but mostly in some sort of sour soup called “ciorba” that was made with a naturally fermented sour liquid called “bors”. This naturally fermented liquid was being made by adding also lovage stems and leaves, and sour cherry tree leaves, along with horseradish root. Thus, the resulting sour liquid contained all the benefits from these herbs.>>

In Bulgaria, it is known as девесил deveseel.  The Czech name is libeček, and the Polish name is lubczyk, both meaning ‘love herb’.  The name in Swedish is libbsticka; Norwegians say løpstikke.

The Croatian name for this plant is ljupčac or vegeta (named after a well-known Croatian meal seasoning similar to Maggi).

The Finnish name is liperi or lipstikka, the former meaning ‘preacher’s collar’, because in old ages the plant was cultivated in monasteries or in rectories, while the latter is from Swedish.

I have noticed that lovage is not widely known among gardeners in the U.S. of A., and since I also discovered its use in Chinese medicine, I decided to grow it in an amount that enables me to give it as a present to garden- and herbal medicine friends in America.  I sold some at farmers’ markets as well.

In the pictures you see the plants during the second potting in late spring.  The seeds were planted in january.  It is a perennial plant and it is wise to give it some space as it can grow quite large.  For many gardeners it is a must to have one or two in the vegetable garden.

After one or two seasons you can dig up the plant, split the roots and replant.

For medicinal use of the root, leave it in the ground for a couple of years.


欧当归  {complete entry from  <<中药大辞典>>}


【拼音】ōu Dānɡ Guī

【英文名】Root of Garden Lovage



拉丁植物动物矿物名:Levisticum officinalis Koch[Ligusticumleuisticum L.]





【化学成分】含多种挥发油成分,主要为藁本内酯(ligusti-lide)[1-4],β-水芹烯(β-phellandrene),香茅醛(citronellal)[1]。还含亚丁基苯酞(butylidene phthalide)[4],正丁基苯酞(butylph-thalide),伞形花内酯(umbelliferone),补骨脂素(psoralen),香柑内酯(bergapten)[5],镰叶芹二醇(falcarindiol)当归二内酯(ange-olide)[6],洋川芎内酯(senkyunolide)[7],芸香甙(rutin),山柰酚-3-O-芸香甙(kaempferol-3-O-rutoside),异槲皮素(isoqrercetin),紫去英甙(adtragalin)[8],阿魏酸(ferulic acid),苯甲酸(benzonic acid),丁二酸(succinic acid),腺嘌呤(adenine),蔗糖(sucrose)。薄层色谱表明尚有葡萄糖(glucose)、果糖(fructose),烟酸(nico-tinicacid)和氨基酸等[9]。此外,本品尚含5种新的藁本内酯二聚体( ligustilidedimer)[6]。