Di Gu Pi (Cortex Lycii or Lycium Bark)

What Is Di Gu Pi

Di Gu Pi also known as Cortex Lycii or Lycium Bark is the root bark of Lycium chinense or Lycium barbarum, which is a deciduous shrub belonging to the family Solanaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum are important economic plants in northern China. They are also called Chinese boxthorn, Chinese matrimony-vine, or Chinese wolfberry.

These two plants often grow on hillsides, wasteland, hilly land, saline land, or roadsides. Lycium chinense is distributed in China, North Korea, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Lycium barbarum is native to China and is now distributed in Asia and Southeastern Europe. Their fruits can be made into herbal tea, alcohol extracts, dietary supplements, which is called Gou Qi Zi (Fructus Lycii).

Lycium chinense

In the early spring and late autumn of each year, people gather the roots of Lycium chinense or Lycium barbarum, wash them with water, peel off their root bark, remove their impurities, dry them, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Di Gu Pi contains kukoamine A, kukoamine B, lyciumamide, Lyciumin A-D, scopolamine, atropine, fagopyrin, betaine, choline, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, melissic acid, cinnamic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, vanillin, isovanillin, scoparone, scopoletin, scopolin, fabiatrin, anthraquinones, β-sitosterol, cryptojaponol, calcium oxalate, and taurine.

Generally, gray-yellow or brownish-yellow, fragile Di Gu Pi with the gray-white inner layer of the section, no wood cores and impurities, and a slight odor is preferred.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Di Gu Pi is relatively cold, with a sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung, liver, and kidney meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Di Gu Pi is often used to clear heat and cool blood, purge fire and promote fluid production, to treat hot flashes, cough, whooping cough, asthma, hemoptysis, epistaxis, toothache, diabetes, purulent ulcer, essential hypertension, dermatitis, urticaria, drug eruption, allergic purpura, and contact dermatitis.

There are about 50 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Xie Bai San, Qin Jiao Bie Jia San, and Kunbao Wan.


  • Anti-inflammation, anti-virus, and anti-fertility.
  • Scavenging superoxide free radicals, inhibiting tyrosinase activity, removing freckles, and whitening.
  • Promote wound healing, treating burns and scalds.
  • Increasing the pain threshold, reducing physical and chemical pain.
  • Inhibiting the activities of angiotensin I convertase and angiotensinogenase, slowing down heart rate, and lowering blood pressure.
  • Lowering blood sugar and blood lipids, antagonizing the increase in blood sugar caused by alloxan, epinephrine, or glucose.
  • Decreasing the increase of IL-2 caused by azathioprine, increasing the decrease of IL-2 caused by cyclophosphamide, and regulating immunity.
  • Clearing asthenic fever of liver and kidney, relieving night sweats, hot flashes with emaciation, and fever caused by yin deficiency.
  • Clearing the lung and purging fire, treating cough and asthma caused by the stagnation of lung fire.
  • Cooling blood, treating hemoptysis, epistaxis, and urine blood caused by blood heat.
  • Promoting fluid production, treating high blood sugar, urine sugar, thirst, fatigue caused by internal heat.
  • Inhibiting type A hemolytic streptococcus, pneumococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, typhoid bacillus, paratyphoid bacillus A, and Shigella flexneri.
  • Studies have found that its injection has an effect similar to that of pituitrin and can excite the uterus.


  • It can be used in combination with Zhi Mu (Rhizoma Anemarrhenae), Bie Jia (Carapax Trionycis), and Yin Chai Hu (Stellaria Root) to relieve fever caused by yin deficiency.
  • It can be used in combination with Long Dan Cao (Radix Gentianae) and Bie Jia (Carapax Trionycis) to treat night sweats and hot flashes.
  • It can be used in combination with Sang Bai Pi (Cortex Mori) and Gan Cao (Licorice Root) to treat cough and asthma caused by lung heat.
  • It can be used in combination with Bai Mao Cen (Rhizoma Imperatae) and Ce Bai Ye (Cacumen Platycladi) to treat hemoptysis, epistaxis, and urine blood caused by blood heat.
  • It can be used in combination with Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae), Tian Hua Fen (Radix Trichosanthis), and Wu Wei Zi (Fructus Schisandrae) to treat high blood sugar, urine sugar, thirst, and fatigue caused by internal heat.

Side Effects

At present, there is no literature report on the toxic effects of Di Gu Pi, and there is no data showing that taking it according to the prescribed dose will cause serious adverse reactions.

Overdose or long-term use of it may cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and loose stools.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Di Gu Pi should be controlled at 9-15g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, powders, injections.
  • It is not recommended to use iron utensils to boil it.
  • People who are allergic to Di Gu Pi should not take it.
  • It should not be used to treat fever caused by wind-cold.
  • Patients with deficiency cold in the spleen and stomach should not take it.
  • People with loose stools should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and breastfeeding women should use it under the guidance of a doctor.