Hu Huang Lian (Rhizoma Picrorhizae)

What Is Hu Huang Lian

Hu Huang Lian commonly known as Rhizoma Picrorhizae is the rhizome of Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Scrophulariaceae. It is a relatively practical Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Tang Ben Cao> in 659 AD.

There are two species of Pistacia, namely Picrorhiza kurroa and Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora. Before 1963, Hu Huang Lian referred to the Picrorhiza kurroa.

Picrorhiza kurroa is distributed in the Himalayas region from Kashmir to Sikkim at an altitude of 2,700-4,500 meters. Ayurvedic medicine has also been documented about it. It has been reported that Picrorhiza kurroa has been harvested to near extinction.

Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora

In 1965, Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora was found in southern Tibet and northern Yunnan at an altitude of 4,400 meters. Because its biomorphological characteristics, tissues, water extracts, and alcohol extracts are very similar to that of Picrorhiza kurroa, it is used as a substitute for Picrorhiza kurroa.

Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora grows on the rocky slopes of 3,600-4,800 meters above sea level. It is distributed from Uttar Pradesh to southwestern China, including Sichuan, Yunnan, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and India.

Every autumn, people gather the rhizomes of Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora, remove their fibrous roots and impurities, dry them in the sun, cut them into thin slices, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Hu Huang Lian contains picrosideⅠ, picrosideⅡ, aucubin, catalpol, minecoside, specioside, rehmaglutin A, rehmaglutun D, 3-methoxyspecionnin, picrosecosidesⅠ,picrogentioside Ⅱ, picrogentiosides A, picrogentiosides C, cucurbitacin glycosides, phenylethanol glycosides, scrophulosides A, scrophulosides B, coniferin, piceoside, catechinic acid, luteolin, gallic acid, β-sitosterol, palmitic acid, caffeic acid, isoferulic acid, and vanillic acid.

According to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the medicinal nature of Hu Huang Lian is relatively cold, with a bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver, stomach, and large intestine meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Hu Huang Lian is often used to clear asthenic fever and damp-heat, cool blood, treat infantile malnutrition with fever, consumptive fever, hot flashes, night sweats, jaundice, urinary tract infection, bacillary dysentery, epidemic mumps, hemoptysis, epistaxis, skin ulcer, hemorrhoids, anal fistula, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. It is an important component of Jing Wan Hong Ruan Gao and Fei Er Wan.


  • Anti-inflammation, anti-fungus, and anti-tumor.
  • Alleviating the gastric mucosal injury induced by hydrochloric acid-ethanol in rats.
  • Reducing isoprenaline-induced myocardial injury and preventing myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury.
  • Lowering blood sugar and blood lipids, treating kidney disease and hyperlipidemia caused by early diabetes.
  • Promoting the development of T cells, increasing the activity of natural killer cells and the phagocytic activity of macrophages, and improving immunity.
  • Promoting bile secretion and cholesterol metabolism, increasing the excretion of bile salts, bile acid, and deoxycholic acid.
  • Reducing the acute liver injury induced by concanavalin A, D-galactosamine, or CCL4 and protecting the liver.
  • Treating consumptive fever and hot flashes caused by yin deficiency.
  • Clearing asthenic fever, alleviating infantile malnutrition with fever, indigestion, abdominal distension with emaciation, and persistent low fever.
  • Clearing damp-heat in the stomach and intestine, treating diarrhea and jaundice caused by damp-heat.
  • Relieving swelling and pain of hemorrhoids and anal fistula caused by damp-fire accumulation.
  • Aucubin and catalpol can antagonize uterine contractions caused by acetylcholine in vitro.
  • Studies have found that picrosideⅡ can enhance the activity of antioxidant enzymes, resist the production of oxygen free radicals, and reduce renal ischemia-reperfusion injury and cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury.


Side Effects

  • At present, there is no literature report that Hu Huang Lia has toxic effects, and no data have been found to show that taking it at the prescribed dose will cause serious adverse reactions.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Hu Huang Lian should be controlled at 1.5-9g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, or mashed for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Phu Huanglian should not take it.
  • It should not be taken with vitamin C, Xuan Shen (Radix Scrophulariae), Bai Xian Pi (Cortex Dictamni), or Ju Hua (Flos Chrysanthemi).
  • People with a deficient cold of spleen and stomach should not take it.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take it.