Guang Huo Xiang (Herba Pogostemonis)

What Is Guang Huo Xiang

Guang Huo Xiang commonly known as Herba Pogostemonis is the above-ground part of Pogostemon cablin, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Lamiaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Mingyi Bie Lu> around 420-589 AD.

There are about 90 species of Pogostemon, which are mainly distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and Australia. Among them, only a small number of species are distributed in tropical and subtropical Africa. The best-known member of this genus is Pogostemon cablin.

Pogostemon cablin is also known as Patchouli. They prefer hot, humid, and sunny environments. They grow well in loose, fertile, well-drained slightly acidic sandy loam soils. They often grow on hillsides or roadsides at an altitude of 1,000-2,000 meters. They are native to South and Southeast Asia and are now widely distributed in China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

This plant has some economic value. They are widely used in the flavor and fragrance industry as well as in the pharmaceutical industry. They can be made into soaps, detergents, body lotions, perfumes, and health products.

Pogostemon cablin

In some pharmaceutical markets, Agastache rugosa is also known as Huo Xiang or Tu Huo Xiang. The 1985 edition and subsequent editions of the “Chinese Pharmacopoeia” stipulate that Pogostemon cablin is the genuine medicinal material of Huo Xiang. Although they both belong to the Lamiaceae family, Agastache rugosa cannot replace Pogostemon cablin for medicinal purposes.

When the branches and leaves of Pogostemon cablin are luxuriant, people gather their above-ground parts, remove their fibrous roots and impurities, dry them during the day and seal them at night, repeatedly until they become dry, cut them into pieces, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Guang Huo Xiang contains apigenin, pachypodol, kumatakenin, apigenin-7-glucoside, acacetin-7-glucoside, rhamnetin, ombuin, hyperoside, licochalcone A, α-patchoulene, pogostol, α-guaiene, bulnesene, patchouli alcohol, seychellene, cycloseychellene, senecrassidiol, 9-oxo-senecrassidiol, corymbolone, diterpenoid compounds, triterpenes, crenatoside, verbascoside, campneoside I, orobanchin, 5α-Stigmast-3,6-dione, stigmasterol, β-Sitosterol, daucosterol, Stigmast-4-ene-3-one, soya-cerebrosides, uracil, fatty acids, furfurals, phthalate esters, and pyran compounds.

Generally, Guang Huo Xiang with thick stems and no fibrous roots, and a strong aroma and slightly bitter taste are preferred.

According to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the medicinal nature of Guang Huo Xiang is slightly warm, with a pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the spleen, stomach, and lung meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to remove dampness by means of aromatics, regulate the middle warmer and stop vomiting, promote sweating and relieve summer heat, and treat colds, headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, chest tightness, bad breath, mouth ulcers, tinea of feet and hands, infantile hand-foot-mouth disease, infantile autumn diarrhea, SARS, acute gastroenteritis, superficial gastritis, peptic ulcer, chronic sinusitis, insect and snake bites.

There are more than 300 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Huoxiang Zhengqi Shui, Bao Ji Wan, and Si Zheng Wan.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced ear swelling in mice and carrageenan-induced paw swelling in rats [1].
  • Increasing pain threshold, prolonging the time of licking hindfoot in mice induced by hot plate experiment, and reducing the number of writhing in mice induced by acetic acid.
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging superoxide anion free radicals, DPPH free radicals, and ABTS free radicals.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of influenza virus (H1N1 and H2N2), adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, herpes simplex virus, Coxsackie B3 virus.
  • Killing Aedes albopictus, Statherotis leucaspis, Delias aglaia, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, Pieris rapae, Trichoplusia ni, and Formosan subterranean termite.
  • Increasing the activity of pepsin, enhancing the function of pancreatic secretion of amylase, and improving the activity of serum amylase.
  • Relieving acetylcholine choline and barium chloride-induced spasms in isolated rabbit intestines.
  • Reducing the size of ulcers caused by ethanol, indomethacin, and water immersion restraint stress.
  • Reducing LPS-induced acute lung injury and mastitis in mice [2].
  • Inhibiting PAF-induced platelet aggregation [3].
  • Removing dampness by means of aromatics, and treating stuffiness and oppression in the epigastrium, poor appetite and nausea, fatigue caused by turbid damp retention in the middle energizer.
  • Regulating the middle warmer and treating vomiting caused by turbid damp retention in the middle energizer.
  • Promoting sweating and relieving summer heat, treating fever, fatigue, and chest tightness caused by summerheat-dampness, damp-warm diseases in the early stage or dampness-heat.
  • Treating aversion to cold, fever, headaches, chest tightness, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea caused by wind-cold in summer.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of liver cancer HepG2 cells, lung cancer A549 cells, leukemia MV4-11 cells, melanoma A375 cells, and lymphoma THP-1 cells.
  • Its volatile oil and water extract can prolong the incubation period of spray-induced asthma in guinea pigs.
  • Its n-hexane extract has a certain inhibitory effect on the vomiting of chicks caused by cupric sulfate.
  • Its extract has a certain inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterococcus, Aerogenes, Helicobacter pylori [4], Cryptococcus neoformans, Candida albicans, and Mucor globose.
  • Studies have confirmed that its volatile oil can increase the number of bowel movements in constipation model mice and treat constipation [5].


Side Effects

At present, there is no literature report that Guang Huo Xiang has toxic effects.

Overdose of it may cause flushing, night sweats, irritability, or dry stools.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Guang Huo Xiang should be controlled between 3-10g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, powders, or ground for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Guang Huo Xiang should not take it.
  • People with yin deficiency should not take it.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take it under the guidance of a doctor.