Che Qian Zi (Semen Plantaginis)

What Is Che Qian Zi

Che Qian Zi commonly known as Semen Plantaginis is the ripe seed of Plantago asiatica or Plantago depressa, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Plantaginaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (around 100 BCE).

There are about 241 species of Plantago, which are widely distributed in temperate and tropical regions of the world. These species are annual, biennial, and perennial herbs. Among them, only a small number of species are small shrubs. Some species of this genus are common folk medicines, such as Plantago major, P. asiatica, and P. depressa. P. asiatica and P. depressa are called Che Qian Cao (Herba Plantaginis).

P. asiatica is also known as Chinese plantain and is a self-sufficient flowering plant. They are hardy and drought tolerant. They grow well in warm, moist, sunny, rich sandy soils. They often grow in grasslands, ditches, riparian wetlands, fields, roadsides, or open spaces beside villages at altitudes below 3,200 meters. They are distributed in China, Russia, North Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Plantago asiatica

P. depressa often grow in grasslands, river beaches, ditches, meadows, fields and roadsides at altitudes below 4,500 meters. They are distributed in China, North Korea, Russia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Kashmir.

In summer and autumn, when the seeds of P. asiatica or P. depressa are ripe, people gather their ears, dry them in the sun, take out the seeds, remove impurities, use them directly, or stir-fry them with salt water, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Che Qian Zi contains plantainoside A~F, plantamajoside, leucoseptoside A, acteoside, isoacteoside, calceolarioside A, calceolarioside B, martynoside, isomartynoside, forsythoside A, forsythoside B, 2′-acetylacteoside, verbasoside, campenoside, hellicoside, β-hydroxyacteoside, orobanchoside, plantasioside, cistanoside F, β-oxoacteoside, geniposidic acid, 10-acetylmajoroside, 10-hydroxymajoroside, majoroside, auroside, 8-epiloganic acid, gardoside, alpinoside, arborescosidic acid, arborescoside, hookerioside, anagalloside, plantarenaloside, ixoroside, aucubin, melampyroside, monomelittoside, rehmannioside D, catalpol, asperuloside, luteoline, apigenin, baicalein, pedalitin, hispidulin, cosmosiin, luteolin-7-O-diglucoside, rhoifoloside, isorhamnetin, kaempferol, isoquercetin, hyperoside, plantagoside, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, daucosterol, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, plasiaticine A~D, indolyl-3-carboxylic acid, plantagoguanidinic acid, and polysaccharides

Generally, the plump and black Che Qian Zi with a slight smell is preferred.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal nature of Che Qian Zi is relatively cold, with a sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver, kidney, lung, and small intestine meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to clear heat, induce diuresis and relieve stranguria, remove dampness and stop diarrhea, improve eyesight, eliminate phlegm, and treat edema, dysuria, strangury, diarrhea, redness, swelling, and pain of the eyes, excessive phlegm, cough, chronic pyelonephritis, chronic prostatitis, urinary tract infection, postoperative urinary retention, membranous nephropathy, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis, pediatric indigestion, infantile diarrhea, cataract, bacillary dysentery, hyperuricemia, gout, and gouty nephropathy.

There are about 150 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Ji Sheng Shen Qi Wan, Zhu Jing Wan, and San Qing Jiao Nang.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced ear swelling and sterile cotton ball-induced subcutaneous granuloma formation in mice.
  • Anti-oxidation, increasing superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase activities, reducing malondialdehyde content.
  • Reducing CCL4-induced acute liver injury in mice and protecting the liver.
  • Inhibiting angiotensin-converting enzyme activity, and improving hypertension in spontaneously hypertensive rats [1].
  • Inducing diuresis and increasing urine output and Na+, K+, Cl – excretion in saline-loaded rats [2].
  • Treating dribbling urination, painful urination, dysuria, and edema.
  • Removing dampness, and treating watery diarrhea with dysuria caused by excessive dampness.
  • Clearing liver and improving eyesight, treating eyes’ redness, swelling, and pain, and blurred vision.
  • Clearing lungs and eliminating phlegm, treating cough and excessive phlegm caused by lung-heat.
  • Its polysaccharides can enhance humoral immunity and allergic responses sensitized by mouse sheep red blood cells (SRBC).
  • Its polysaccharides can significantly shorten the time of the first black stool in constipation model mice, and increase the amount of defecation within 5 hours, the water in the feces, and the ink propulsion rate of the small intestine.
  • Its ethanol extract can ameliorate diabetic retinal injury in a streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat model [3].
  • Studies have found that it can lower the levels of serum uric acid, creatinine, triacylglycerol, and tumor necrosis factor-α, protect the kidneys, and regulate lipid metabolism in potassium oxonate-induced hyperuricemia rats [4].
  • Studies have found that Its extract can reduce lipid accumulation, white adipocytes and brown adipocyte size, serum total cholesterol, triglyceride, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in High-fat diet-induced obese mice. In addition, its extract can reduce HF-induced hyperglycemia but not hyperinsulinemia [5].


  • It can be used in combination with Mu Tong (Caulis Akebiae), Hua Shi (Talcum), Qu Mai (Dianthi Herba), etc. to treat dribbling urination and painful urination caused by damp-heat in the urinary bladder.
  • It can be used in combination with Zhu Ling (Polyporus), Fu Ling (Poria), Ze Xie (Rhizoma Alismatis), etc. to treat dysuria and edema caused by the retention of water and dampness.
  • It can be used in combination with Niu Xi (Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae), Shu Di Huang (Processed Rehmannia Root), Shan Zhu Yu (Fructus Corni), etc. to treat heavy sensation in the waist and swollen feet caused by kidney deficiency.
  • It can be used in combination with Xiang Ru (Mosla Chinensis), Fu Ling (Poria), Zhu Ling (Polyporus), etc. to treat diarrhea caused by summer-dampness.
  • It can be used in combination with Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis), etc. to treat diarrhea caused by damp preponderance due to spleen deficiency.
  • It can be used in combination with Ju Hua (Flos Chrysanthemi) and Jue Ming Zi (Cassia Seed), etc. to treat the eyes’ redness, swelling, and pain.
  • It can be used in combination with Gua Lou (Fructus Trichosanthis), Zhe Bei Mu (Fritillariae Thunbergii Bulbus), Pi Pa Ye (Folium Eriobotryae), etc. to treat cough and excessive phlegm caused by lung-heat.

Side Effects

  • At present, there is no report showing that Che Qian Zi has toxic effects.
  • Long-term or excessive administration of it may cause stomach upset.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Che Qian Zi should be controlled at 9-15g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, powders, or capsules.
  • When making a decoction of Che Qian Zi, you should wrap it in gauze.
  • People who are allergic to Che Qian Zi should not take it.
  • Patients who are frail due to excessive tire should not take it.
  • Patients with spermatorrhea due to kidney deficiency should not take it.
  • Pregnant women should not take it.
  • Breastfeeding women should take it under medical supervision.