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Pyrola Herb (Lu Xian Cao)

Close up of Pyrola Herb (Lu Xian Cao)

What is Pyrola Herb (Lu Xian Cao)?

Pyrola Herb (lu xian cao, 鹿衔草), also known as Herba Pyrolae, refers to the dried whole plant of Pyrola calliantha or Pyrola decorata, which belongs to the Pyrolaceae family. In China, these plants are widely distributed in provinces such as Shanxi, Qinghai, Gansu and Henan. 

The application of Lu Xian Cao can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty, as the Southern Yunnan Materia Medica (1436 AD) has stated that Lu Xian Cao is a safe and non-toxic drug that can “strengthen muscles and benefit bones, alleviate the pain of tendons and bones, and also be used to treat the phlegm-fire syndrome”.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Lu Xian Cao falls under the category of ‘Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness’. Such herbs typically help to treat ‘bi (痹) pain’, which refers to symptoms of painful obstruction, such as arthritic and rheumatic conditions with pain, stiffness and numbness in bones, joints and muscles.

Warm in nature, Lu Xian Cao can help individuals with too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance. 

Bitter and sweet in taste, Lu Xian Cao can help to cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, Lu Xian Cao can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Lu Xian Cao targets the Liver and Kidneys.

Functions and Benefits of Pyrola Herb (Lu Xian Cao)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Lu Xian Cao has the following health benefits.

Lu Xian Cao can dispel Wind-Dampness and strengthen one’s sinews and bones. For example, Lu Xian Cao can treat Wind-Damp Bi and weakness in the waist and legs. Also, Lu Xian Cao is effective in stopping bleeding. This makes it a great herb to treat a variety of bleeding disorders, such as hemoptysis, epistaxis, irregular uterine bleeding and bleeding from trauma. In addition, as Lu Xian Cao can invigorate one’s blood circulation and regulate menstruation, it can treat leukorrhea as well.

Lu Xian Cao is able to tonify one’s Lungs and Kidneys too, which helps to relieve coughing and wheezing caused by chronic Lung Qi Deficiency or failure of the Kidneys to grasp qi. In addition, Lu Xian Cao can nourish one’s Heart and reduce perspiration, which then helps to treat palpitations and night sweat associated with Heart Yin Deficiency.

In Japan, Lu Xian Cao is sometimes used to treat beriberi and promote diuresis. Also, the juice of the raw herb can treat toxic insect bites and incised wounds. 

Today, Lu Xian Cao is widely used clinically for the treatment of rheumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bone hyperplasia, sciatica, cervical spondylosis, lumbar spondylosis, acute and chronic bronchitis, mammary gland hyperplasia, tumour, hypertension, coronary heart disease and bleeding disease.

To date, more than 70 chemical constituents such as flavonoids, phenolic glycosides, quinones, terpenoids and volatile oils have been isolated and identified from Lu Xian Cao. Pharmacological studies have shown that Lu Xian Cao has a variety of pharmacological activities, including anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-tumour, anti-oxidation, reducing blood lipids, protective on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular, promoting osteoblast proliferation, and so on.

Close up of Pyrola Herb (Lu Xian Cao)
Pyrola Herb (Lu Xian Cao) helps to ease chronic coughs.

How to Use Pyrola Herb (Lu Xian Cao)

The recommended daily dosage of Lu Xian Cao is 15 – 30g, when used as a decoction. If grind into powder, the recommended dosage of Lu Xian Cao is 6 – 9g. 

Lu Xian Cao and its supplements may be found in many herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Pyrola Herb (Lu Xian Cao)

Lu Xian Cao should not be used by individuals experiencing Yang Excess or Yin Deficiency. Pregnant and breastfeeding ladies should use this herb with caution too.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Lu Xian Cao to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Pyrola Herb (Lu Xian Cao):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 鹿衔草
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): lù xián cǎo
  • Herb name (English): Pyrola Herb
  • Herb name (Botanical): Herba Pyrolae
  • Origin of species: Pyrola calliantha H. Andres; Pyrola decorata H. Andres
  • Part(s) of herb used: Whole plant
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Most parts of China
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet, bitter; Warm; Administrates the Liver and Kidney Meridians
  • Actions: Eases chronic coughs; Relieves pains relating to rheumatism; Relieves excessive bleeding conditions from menstrual discharge or physical injury.

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