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Canton Love-pea Vine (Ji Gu Cao Herb)

This is a glossary page on the herb Canton Love-pea Vine (Ji Gu Cao Herb)

What is Canton Love-pea Vine (Ji Gu Cao Herb)?

Canton Love-pea Vine (ji gu cao, 鸡骨草), also known as Abrus Herb, Herba Abri or Chicken Bone Grass, is the dried aerial parts of the plant Abrus cantoniensis, also known as Guangdong Abrus, which is a climbing liana belonging to the family Leguminosae. This plant thrives in environments that are dry with sufficient sunlight. They are often scattered on the ground or wrapped around other plants. Abrus cantoniensis mainly grows in spare forests, thickets or hillsides at an altitude of 200 meters, distributed in Southern China and some other countries in Southeast Asia.

The Ji Gu Cao herb is often used to make soup and herbal tea during spring and summer. There are more than 50 kinds of herbal prescriptions containing it, such as Fu Fang Ji Gu Cao Granules, Jie Shi Tong Pian, and Gan De Le Granules. There is a long history of using the Ji Gu Cao herb in Guangdong and Guangxi, as shown in the records of ancient books. This herb can be harvested throughout the year. After removal of the poisonous pods, its roots are cleaned, its stems and vines are tied into bunches, and the herb is then dried and cut for medicinal usage.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Ji Gu Cao herb falls under the category of ‘Herbs that clear Heat and relieve toxicity’. Such herbs are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as Internal Heat in TCM. Most herbs in this category have both antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Cool in nature, the Ji Gu Cao herb can help individuals with too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a yang excess or a yin deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance. Sweet and slightly bitter in taste, the herb can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body, and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. Also, the herb may also cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

Functions and Benefits of Canton Love-pea Vine (Ji Gu Cao Herb)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that the Ji Gu Cao herb has the following health benefits.

The Ji Gu Cao herb can clear Heat and remove toxicity, soothe the Liver and dissipate Blood Stasis. Thus, the herb is often indicated for symptoms such as hepatitis with jaundice, stomachache, scrofula, traumatic injury and acute mastitis.

One of the main functions of Ji Gu Cao herb is to reduce Dampness and address jaundice, especially jaundice caused by Damp-Heat in the Liver and gallbladder, or Damp-Heat Stagnation. The Ji Gu Cao herb can be combined with other herbs such as cinnamon to improve its effects in the treatment of jaundice.

TCM believes that disharmony between the Liver and stomach can affect the Spleen and stomach, which causes abdominal distention and discomfort. The Ji Gu Cao herb can help to relieve such discomfort, as well as pain in the ribs, flanks caused by the lack of Liver qi, and pain in the epigastric area caused by Liver Stagnation.

Modern studies suggest that Ji Gu Cao herb may be able to aid the treatment of cholecystitis. It is suggested that chronic cholecystitis is related to infection, and the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of the herb may help to address this disease. By clearing Heat, detoxifying, promoting choleretics, removing Blood Stasis and dredging collaterals, the Ji Gu Cao herb may help to relieve such diseases.

Canton Love-pea Vine (Ji Gu Cao Herb)
Canton Love-pea Vine (Ji Gu Cao Herb) is effective in relieving abdominal pain.

How to Use Canton Love-pea Vine (Ji Gu Cao Herb)

The recommended daily dosage of Ji Gu Cao herb is 15 – 30g, when consumed as a decoction. Ji Gu Cao herb is also made into supplements such as pill and powder. 

Many use the Ji Gu Cao herb as a culinary ingredient to cook herbal dishes. For example, you can boil Ji Gu Cao herb with ingredients such as red bean, lotus root, ginger and jujube to make a herbal drink. You can also cook Ji Gu Cao herb with almonds, pork chops and old hens in a pot to make braised old chicken.

Ji Gu Cao herb and its supplements may be found in herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Canton Love-pea Vine (Ji Gu Cao Herb)

Ji Gu Cao herb should not be used by individuals who are weak due to Deficiency-Cold, experiencing pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Also, the seeds of Ji Gu Cao herb are poisonous. Do remove the pods before consuming the herb to avoid poisoning and side effects such as burning sensation in the mouth, difficulty in swallowing, nausea and vomiting.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Ji Gu Cao herb to your healthcare routine.


Here is a summary for Canton Love-pea Vine (Ji Gu Cao Herb):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 鸡骨草
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): jī gǔ cǎo
  • Herb name (English): Canton Love-pea Vine
  • Herb name (Botanical): Herba Abri
  • Origin of species: Abrus cantoniensis Hance
  • Part(s) of herb used: Whole plant
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Most parts of China
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet, slightly bitter; Cool; Administrates the Liver and Stomach meridians
  • Actions: Eases swollen mammary glands; Relieves pain and discomfort experienced in the abdominal and flank region

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