Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark
What is Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark?
Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark (di gu pi, 地骨皮), also known as Cortex Lycii or Chinese Wolfberry Root Bark, refers to the root bark of Lycium chinense or Lycium barbarum, which is a deciduous shrub belonging to the Solanaceae family. First recorded in The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica in the late Western Han Dynasty, Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark is used in about 50 different kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions.
In early spring and late autumn, people will gather the roots of Lycium chinense or Lycium barbarum, wash them with water before peeling off the root bark, remove impurities from them, and dry them for medicinal usage.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark falls under the category of ‘Herbs that cool the blood’. Such herbs can clear inflammatory and infectious conditions referred to as Internal Heat in TCM. Cold in nature, Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark can help individuals with too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a yang excess or a yin deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance.
Sweet in taste, Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark targets the Kidneys, Liver and Lungs.
Functions and Benefits of Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark has the following health benefits.
Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark is effective in cooling blood and draining yin deficiency fire in the Liver and Kidneys. This herb can clear Heat from the bones to relieve steaming bone disorder accompanied by sweating, tidal fever, night sweats, tuberculosis, irritability and thirst.
For syndromes of both yin deficiency and internal Heat, such as diabetes, polydipsia, irritable feverish sensation and dry mouth, Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark can be combined with other Heat-clearing and yin-nourishing herbs that excel at promoting body fluids to enhance its effectiveness. For toothache caused by floating fire in the Kidney channel, Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark can be used singly to rinse the mouth, fill the pulp cavity, or combined with yin-nourishing and stomach-Heat-clearing herbs for oral administration.
Great at clearing Lung Heat, Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark is commonly indicated for the failure of adverse qi to descend caused by Lung fire accumulation and stagnation manifested as cough or asthma. This herb is often combined with Lung-Heat-clearing and cough-stopping herbs to enhance its effectiveness. For cough and asthma with profuse Phlegm due to Lung-Heat, Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark can be combined with other Heat-clearing and Phlegm-resolving herbs to enhance its effectiveness.
Effective at blood-cooling, Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark can stop bleeding. It is thus commonly indicated for symptoms such as hematemesis, epistaxis and hemoptysis caused by blood Heat.
How to Use Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark
The recommended daily dosage of Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark is 9 – 15g, when used as a decoction.
You can find Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark and its supplements, such as pills and powder, in certain herbal stores and Asian specialty stores.
Cautions and Side Effects of Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark
Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark should not be used by individuals experiencing Spleen and stomach Cold with loose stools or febrile illnesses caused by exogenous Wind-Cold.
Do not use Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark together with insulin, sulfonylureas and other antidiabetics such as tolbutamide and glipizide. Concurrent usage may cause a synergistic effect leading to hypoglycemia.
Long-term consumption or over-consumption of Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark may cause side effects such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and loose stools.
Here is a summary for Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark:
- Herb name (Chinese): 地骨皮
- Herb name (Pin Yin): dì gǔ pí
- Herb name (English): Chinese Boxthorn Root Bark / Chinese Wolfberry Root-Bark
- Herb name (Botanical): Cortex Lycii
- Origin of species: Lycium chinense Mill.; Lycium barbarum L.
- Part(s) of herb used: Root bark
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Mainly found in the northern and southern parts of China
- Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Cold; Administrates the Lung, Liver and Kidney Meridians
- Actions: Relieves symptoms of excessive or uncontrollable perspiration due to internal heat; Eases bleeding symptoms; Eases coughing symptoms
Chan, J. Y. W., Lam, F. C., Leung, P. C., Che, C. T., & Fung, K. P. (2009). Antihyperglycemic and antioxidative effects of a herbal formulation of Radix Astragali, Radix Codonopsis and Cortex Lycii in a mouse model of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 23(5), 658-665. [Accessed on 6th July 2023]
Chan, J. Y. W., Leung, P. C., Che, C. T., & Fung, K. P. (2008). Protective effects of an herbal formulation of Radix Astragali, Radix Codonopsis and Cortex Lycii on streptozotocin‐induced apoptosis in pancreatic β‐cells: An implication for its treatment of diabetes mellitus. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 22(2), 190-196.[Accessed on 6th July 2023]
Chen, H., Olatunji, O. J., & Zhou, Y. (2016). Anti-oxidative, anti-secretory and anti-inflammatory activities of the extract from the root bark of Lycium chinense (Cortex Lycii) against gastric ulcer in mice. Journal of natural medicines, 70, 610-619.[Accessed on 6th July 2023]
Share this article on