Potentilla Discolor (Fan Bai Cao)

What Is Potentilla Discolor

Potentilla Discolor is also known as Fan Bai Cao, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Rosaceae. It first appeared in <Jiuhuang Bencao> (Materia Medica for Relief of Famines) in 1,406 AD.

This plant is drought-tolerant and often grows in wastelands, valleys, riversides, grasslands, and sparse forests at an altitude of 100-1,850 meters. It can be found in China, Japan, and North Korea.

According to some documents, people would eat the roots of Potentilla discolor to satisfy their hunger during famines in ancient times. It is said that its root tastes like chicken and lotus root.

Potentilla Discolor

Every summer and autumn, people gather Potentilla discolor, remove their impurities, wash them with water, dry them in the sun, cut them into segments, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Potentilla Discolor contains isorhamnetin, quercetin, kaempferol, rutin, apigenin, luteolin, β-sitosterol, daucosterol, protocatechuic acid, chlorogenic acid, ellagic acid, gallic acid, caffeic acid, gallic acid ethyl ester, brevifolin, brervifolincaboxylic acid, euscaphic acid, monoterpenes, triterpenes, adenosine, azelaic acid, SOD enzymes, and polysaccharides.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Potentilla Discolor is relatively cold, with a bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the stomach and large intestine meridians.

The medicinal property of Potentilla Discolor is similar to that of Potentilla Chinensis (Wei Ling Cai), so they can be used alternatively.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Potentilla Discolor is used to clear heat and remove toxins, stop bleeding and diarrhea, treat bacillary dysentery, amoebic dysentery, acute enteritis, acute laryngitis, tonsillitis, stomatitis, type B diabetes, acute bronchitis, acute pneumonia, lung abscess, acute mastitis, functional uterine bleeding, menorrhagia, traumatic bleeding, and hemophilia.


  • Anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, and analgesic effects.
  • Inhibiting rotavirus and respiratory syncytial virus.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of HepG2 cells and HL-60 cells.
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging hydroxyl free radicals, DPPH free radicals, superoxide anions, inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
  • Reducing the damage of CCL4 to liver tissue and protecting the liver.
  • Lowering blood sugar, antagonizing the increase in blood sugar caused by alloxan.
  • Repairing pancreatic β cells, preventing and treating type 2 diabetes.
  • Clearing damp-heat in the large intestine and treating diarrhea with blood and mucus.
  • Removing heat toxins, relieving skin swelling and pain, and treating sores and carbuncles caused by heat toxins.
  • Cooling blood, treating hematemesis, hematochezia, and uterine bleeding caused by blood heat.
  • Clearing lung heat, treating lung abscess, cough, and asthma caused by lung heat.
  • Inhibiting Shigella flexneri, Staphylococcus aureus, Typhoid bacillus, Escherichia coli, Proteus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterococcus faecalis, and Sarcina.


Side Effects

At present, there is no literature report that Potentilla Discolor has toxic effects, and no data is showing that taking it will cause serious adverse reactions.

If you take it for a long time, please consult a professional doctor.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Potentilla Discolor should be controlled at 9-15g.
  • When using fresh Potentilla Discolor, the dosage should be controlled at 30-60g.
  • People who are allergic to Potentilla Discolor should not take it.
  • It can be made into decoctions, lotions, or mashed for external use.
  • People with yang deficiency should not take it.
  • Pregnant women should not take it.
  • Women during menstruation should not take it.