What Is Fang Ji
Fang Ji commonly known as Radix Stephaniae Tetrandrae is the root of Stephania tetrandra, which is a perennial herbaceous liana belonging to the family Menispermaceae. 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 71 species of Stephania, which are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical areas of Asia, Oceania, and Africa. Among them, some species can be used as pharmaceutical raw materials.
Stephania tetrandra often grow in bushes near villages, fields, and roads. They are distributed in southern China and Vietnam. They have relatively slow growth cycles. They require three years of growth before they can be used medicinally. At present, most of the medicinal Stephania tetrandra is wild.
In the early days, the root of Aristolochia fangchi was also called Fang Ji. Aristolochia fangchi contains aristolochic acid, which is nephrotoxic. To ensure the safety of the medication, the China Food and Drug Administration stopped using Aristolochia fangchi in 2004.
In autumn, people gather the roots of Stephania tetrandra, wash them with water, remove their rough skin, dry them to semi-dry, cut them into pieces, dry them, cut them into thick slices, and make them into Chinese herbal medicine.
Fang Ji contains tetrandrine, fangchinoline, hanfangchin C, menisine, menisidine, cyclanoline, berbamine, oxofangchirine, stephanthrine, flavonoids, phenols, organic Acids, volatile oils, and sugars.
Generally, gray-white and relatively smooth Fang Ji with dark horizontal grooves, less fiber, and high starch content is preferred.
According to <Ben Cao Shi Yi>, the medicinal nature of Fang Ji is relatively cold, with a bitter and pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the bladder and lung meridians.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to expel wind and dampness, relieve pain, induce diuresis to remove edema, and treat rheumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertensive nephropathy, primary hypertension, dysuria, athlete’s foot, eczema, supraventricular tachycardia, bronchial asthma, asthmatoid bronchitis, chronic glomerulonephritis, nephrotic syndromes, renal edema, cardiogenic edema, chronic hepatitis, early cirrhosis, diabetes, prostatitis, seminal vesiculitis, silicosis, and burns.
There are about 200 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang, Fang Ji Fu Ling Tang, and Fang Ji Guan Jie Wan.
- Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced ear swelling in mice and carrageenan-induced pleurisy in rats.
- Regulating the IKKβ/IκB/NF-κB pathway, reducing the production of important pain mediators, and inhibiting LPS-induced hyperalgesia in mice.
- Scavenging superoxide anion free radicals, hydroxyl free radicals, and reducing lipid peroxidation.
- Reducing CCL4, lipopolysaccharide, or D-galactosamine-induced liver injury in rats and protecting the liver.
- Inhibiting arachidonic acid-induced platelet aggregation and preventing thrombosis.
- Reducing blood glucose levels and increasing serum insulin concentrations in normal rats.
- Lowering blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats.
- Blocking slow calcium channels, reducing inward currents, and antagonizing cesium chloride-induced early postdepolarization and ventricular arrhythmias.
- Expelling wind and dampness, treating rheumatic arthralgia, aching pain and heaviness of limbs, swelling and pain of joints, bodily pain, and limb spasm.
- Inducing diuresis, purging damp-heat in the lower jiao and bladder, and treating edema of the lower extremity, dysuria, abdominal distension, and beriberi.
- Clearing heat and drying dampness, treating eczema and malignant ulcers.
- Shortening pentobarbitone-induced sleep onset latency and prolonging sleep time in mice.
- Inhibiting the proliferation of liver cancer 7402 cells, breast cancer MCF-7 cells, cervical cancer HeLa cells, gastric cancer BGC-823 cells, and ovarian cancer cells A2780, and inducing their apoptosis.
Tetrandrine can significantly reduce the mortality of experimental isoproterenol acute myocardial injury model rats.
- Tetrandrine has a certain inhibitory effect on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Candida albicans.
- Fangchinoline can interfere with calcium influx, inhibit glutamate release and oxidant production, and reduce sodium cyanide-induced neuronal cell death.
- Studies have found that fangchinoline can reduce the number of virus particles in the early stage of HIV-1 envelope protein gene (Env) incorporation, interfere with the proteolytic processing of glycoprotein gp160, reduce the functional expression of Env, and inhibit the production of HIV infectious particles.
- It can be used in combination with Hua Shi (Talcum), Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis), Can Sha (Faeces Bombycis), Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae), etc. to treat aching pain and heaviness of limbs, swelling and pain of joints, bodily pain caused by wind-damp-heat.
- It can be used in combination with Ma Huang (Ephedra), Rou Gui (Cinnamomi Cortex), Wei Ling Xian (Radix Clematidis), Fu Ling (Poria), etc. to treat joint pain and limb spasm caused by wind-cold-dampness.
- It can be used in combination with Huang Qi (Radix Astragali), Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), Gan Cao (Licorice Root), etc. to treat perspiration with an aversion to wind, heaviness sensation of body and limbs, edema of body, arthralgia of limbs, difficult urination, pale tongue with white coating, and floating pulse.
- It can be used in combination with Hua Jiao (Pericarpium Zanthoxyli), Ting Li Zi (Semen Lepidii), Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei), etc. to treat abdominal distension and edema caused by damp-heat.
- It can be used in combination with Ku Shen (Radix Sophorae Flavescentis), Jin Yin Hua (Flos Lonicerae), etc. to treat eczema and malignant ulcers.
- Tetrandrine has been shown to cause acute pulmonary toxicity.
- After intravenous administration of a single dose of 150 mg/kg tetrandrine to mice, tetrandrine induced transient toxicity to the liver, lungs, and kidneys.
- Overdose of it may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or upper abdominal discomfort.
Precautions and Warnings
- The dosage of Fang Ji should be controlled at 5-10g.
- It can be made into decoctions, pills, or powders.
- People who are allergic to Fang Ji should not take it.
- People with a poor appetite should not take it.
- People with yin deficiency should not take it.
- People without damp-heat syndrome should not take it.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take it.