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Rhizoma Cibotii (Gou Ji)

Close up of Rhizoma Cibotii (Gou Ji)

What is Rhizoma Cibotii (Gou Ji)?

Rhizoma Cibotii (gou ji, 狗脊) is the dried rhizome of Cibotium barometz, a plant in the fern family Dicksoniaceae. It is also sometimes referred to as Oriental Chain Fern Root or Chain Fern Rhizome. Its Chinese name Gou Ji means ‘the back of a golden-haired dog’, derived from the herb’s appearance that resembles a dog’s back covered in golden wool. 

Regarded as one of Guangdong’s top ten Southern medicines, Rhizoma Cibotii has both ornamental value and high medicinal value. This herb is commonly used for many ailments, especially for lower back pain.

Rhizoma Cibotii is often found at the foot of mountains, as well as shady and moist places in forests. Rhizoma Cibotii is harvested during autumn and winter. After the excavation and dirt removal, the herb is then processed and dried under the sun for medicinal usage. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Rhizoma Cibotii falls under the category of ‘herbs that tonify yang’. Such herbs are used for patterns of deficiency to replenish one’s ‘Four Treasures’ (qi, blood, yin, yang). Warm in nature, Rhizoma Cibotii 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, Rhizoma Cibotii can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. The herb also has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Rhizoma Cibotii targets the Kidneys and the Liver.

Functions and Benefits of Rhizoma Cibotii (Gou Ji)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Rhizoma Cibotii has the following health benefits.

Rhizoma Cibotii can dispel Wind, expel Cold and remove Dampness, which makes it a great form of treatment for arthralgia syndrome caused by Wind-Dampness. Furthermore, Rhizoma Cibotii can strengthen one’s waist and knees, as well as consolidate tendons and bones. Thus, Rhizoma Cibotii can improve one’s bone density, treat deficiencies of the Liver and Kidneys accompanied by waist pain, stiffness of spine and difficulty in bending and stretching due to pathogenic Wind, Cold and Dampness. In addition, Rhizoma Cibotii can also treat weakness of one’s lower extremities. For example, the herb can help to relieve ankle injuries such as a sprained ankle.

Rhizoma Cibotii is also indicated for Kidneys deficiencies manifested as symptoms such as frequent urination, enuresis, abnormal vaginal discharges and spermatorrhea. The herb is often combined with other essence-securing and urination-reducing herbs to enhance its effectiveness in treating the above symptoms.

Rhizoma Cibotii (Gou Ji) on a wooden table
Rhizoma Cibotii (Gou Ji) can help to ease sore lower back.

How to Use Rhizoma Cibotii (Gou Ji)

The recommended daily dosage of Rhizoma Cibotii is 6 -12g, when used as a decoction. 

Rhizoma Cibotii is available at many Chinese herbal stores and Asian markets in various supplement forms, such as pills, powders, extracts and herbal formulas.

Cautions and Side Effects of Rhizoma Cibotii (Gou Ji)

Rhizoma Cibotii should not be used by individuals experiencing difficult urination due to Heat Deficiency or Yin Deficiency. Also, patients with dysuria should not be using this herb too.

In addition, Rhizoma Cibotii should not be used together with Herba Patriniae (Bai Jiang Cao).

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Rhizoma Cibotii to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Rhizoma Cibotii (Gou Ji):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 狗脊
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): gǒu jǐ
  • Herb name (English): Cibot Rhizome
  • Herb name (Botanical): Rhizoma Cibotii
  • Origin of species: Cibotium barometz (L.) J. Sm.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Rhizome
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Yunnan, Guangxi, Zhejiang, Fujian
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Bitter, sweet; Warm; Administrates the Kidney and Liver Meridians
  • Actions: Eases rheumatoid pain, sore lower back and weak knees; Relieves bed-wetting and excessive vaginal discharge

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