TIEN CHI ROOT (Panax notoginseng)

Latin: Panax pseudoginseng, Panax notoginseng
Chinese: Tien chi / San qi / Tian qi

WHAT IT DOES: Tien chi root is sweet and slightly bitter in taste, and warming in action. It stops bleeding while simultaneously reducing blood congestion and clotting. It also relaxes, detoxifies and repairs blood vessels, and speeds wound healing. It is a mild tonic.


SAFETY ISSUES: Do not use during pregnancy.


• Crude powder from Yunnan province: two to three 500-mg pills two times per day for three weeks following traumatic injury

Note: may be used several months or longer for chronic conditions.

Tien chi root is very popular among martial artists because of its unusual ability to simultaneously stop bleeding and reduce blood stagnation. This makes it the premier Chinese herb for wound healing. It reduces swelling and pain, and is used to treat traumatic injury, diabetic retinopathy, wet form macular degeneration, optic neuritis, glaucoma, retinal vein occlusion, chronic eye, joint or muscle inflammation, hemorrhage, surgical wounds, blood clots, sprains and fractures. It is extremely safe and can be used for long periods of time with no difficulty. I have used tien qi along with some other herbs many times to treat other forms retinal trauma and bleeding, often with good success.

Tien chi root is the main ingredient in Yunnan Paiyao capsules, known throughout the world for their unparalleled ability to heal wounds, stop hemorrhage and repair tissue. I often prescribe tien chi root for two or three weeks to speed healing from surgery.  The use of pure tien chi tablets can usually stop retinal bleeding within two days, and over three months, it can heal the capillaries and basement membranes at the back of the eye. I use it myself several months per year to prevent retinopathy, and so far I have never had a problem (50 years and counting). In addition to the herb’s benefits on diabetic retinopathy, one of the components of tien chi root has been indicated for lowering glucose-induced increases in blood sugar.

Research Highlights

• Studies from China show that it speeds recovery from wounds by over 50% (reported in Dharmananda, 1994).

• Studies have shown that this action is strengthened by repeated administration and tends to be dose-dependent (Gong YH et al., 1991).

• In mouse studies, Tien chi root extract has shown significant anti-tumor activity on skin tumors induced by chemical toxins (Konoshima et al., 1999).

• In a study of patients with essential hypertension, tien chi root saponins, were shown to precipitate remarkable improvement in left ventricular diastolic function. The researchers concluded that the herb could improve heart muscle relaxation by enhancing calcium pump activity, inhibiting intracellular calcium overload, and lightening left ventricular muscle mass (Feng et al., 1997). In spite of this positive effect, however, the herb is not a reliable blood pressure-lowering agent by itself, though it may be a useful addition to a treatment protocol (Lei XL et al., 1986).

•The development of cardiac dysfunction and weakness immediately following traumatic burns is a serious problem, and one that is very difficult to treat. In a placebo controlled trial performed on rats at the Institute of Burn Research in Chongqing, China, researchers determined that tien chi root was effective in improving early post-burn cardiac function (Huang et al., 1999).

• The actions of this herb on the cardiovascular system are complex, involving multiple mechanisms. Studies done at the Chinese Academy of Medical Science in Beijing have shown that the saponins in tien chi root act as calcium channel blockers in neurons (Ma et al., 1997).

• The protection the whole root affords against hypoxic damage is attributed to the improvement of energy metabolism, preserving the structural integrity of neurons (Jiang KY et al., 1995).

• Other effects include lipid-lowering activity (Xu et al., 1993), increased outflow of coronary vessels and relaxed constriction of ileum smooth muscles (Hu Y et al., 1992), and anti-arrhythmic activity (Gao BY et al., 1992).

• A study on rabbits suffering from hemorrhagic shock examined the effects of various combinations of salvia root, tien chi root and chuan xiong rhizome (Ligusticum wallichii). Blood tests showed that all three herbs were effective for relieving blood pressure and heart rate reduction, but that the combination of any two herbs was superior to using a single herb, improving results and lowering the required dosage (Wang et al., 1997)