Qin Jiao (Radix Gentianae Macrophyllae)

What Is Qin Jiao

Qin Jiao commonly known as Radix Gentianae Macrophyllae is the root of Gentiana macrophylla, G. straminea, G. crassicaulis, or G. dahurica, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Gentianaceae. 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 334 species of Gentian, which are distributed in the high mountains of temperate regions. Among them, some species are annual herbs. Most of the plants in this genus are for ornamental use, and only some species are used for medicinal purposes.

Gentiana macrophylla likes humid, cool climates and is hardy. They grow well in deep, rich loam or sandy loam. They often grow at an altitude of 400-2,400 meters above sea level on river beaches, roadsides, ditches, hillside grasslands, and forest edges. They can be found in northern China, Russia, and Mongolia.

Gentiana macrophylla

G. straminea often grow in alpine grasslands, shrubs, forests, ravines, hillsides, or river beaches at altitudes of 2,400-4,950 m. They are distributed in Tibet, Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Hubei, and Nepal.

G. crassicaulis is not very demanding for soil. They grow well in loose, fertile, deep humus and sandy loam soils. They often grow at altitudes of 2,100-4,500 meters on hillsides, grasslands, roadsides, thickets, and understory. They are unique to China and are distributed in Tibet, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Qinghai, and Gansu.

G. dahurica often grow at an altitude of 870-4,500 m on the edge of fields, roadsides, river beaches, ditches, meadows, and sunny hillsides. They are distributed in northern China, Mongolia, and Russia.

In spring and autumn, people gather the roots of Gentiana macrophylla, G. straminea, G. crassicaulis, remove impurities, dry them to semi-dry, stack them until they show a reddish-yellow or yellow color, spread them out, dry them in the sun, cut them into pieces, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

The roots of G. dahurica were also gathered during this period. People gather the roots of G. dahurica, remove their black skin, dry them in the sun, cut them into pieces, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Qin Jiao contains swertiamarin, sweroside, swertiapunimarin, (R)-gentiolacton, 6β-hydroxy-swertiajaposide A, swerimilegenin H, swerimilegenin I, qinjiaoside A, qinjiaoside B, secologanic acid, gentiopicroside, scabran G3, scabran G4, 6′-O-acetylgentiopicroside, 3′-O-acetylgentiopicroside, gentiananoside A-D, trifloroside, rindoside, macrophylloside A, macrophylloside B, gentiastraminoside A, gentiastraminoside B, gentimacroside, isomacrophylloside, kingiside, shanzhiside, qinjiaoside C, loganic acid, loganin, harpagoside, deglucoserrulatoside, roburic acid, ursolic acid, maslinic acid, ajugasterone C, oleanolic acid, α-amyrin, β-amyrin, β-sitosterol, daucosterol, waltonitone, lignans, flavonoids, alkaloids, polysaccharides, and some trace elements.

Generally, yellow-brown, gray-yellow, or tan and rough Qin Jiao with yellow wood hearts, and a specific aroma is preferred.

According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal nature of Qin Jiao is relatively neutral, with a pungent and bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the stomach, liver, and gallbladder meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to expel wind and dampness, activate meridians and relieve pain, reduce asthenic heat and eliminate damp-heat, and treat rheumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular spasms, joint pain, stroke, hemiplegia, facial distortion, numbness of limbs, aphasia due to the stiff tongue, hot flashes, cough due to overstrain, jaundice, hemorrhoids, cerebrospinal meningitis, proliferative arthritis, spondylosis, and spinal osteoarthritis.

There are about 200 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Qin Chuan Tong Bi Pian, Du Huo Ji Sheng Wan, and Qu Feng Shu Jin Wan.


  • Anti-inflammation, reducing xylene-induced ear swelling in mice and carrageenan or zymosan A-induced paw swelling in rats.
  • Increasing pain threshold and reducing the number of writhing in mice induced by acetic acid.
  • Inhibiting proliferation of mouse spleen lymphocytes and thymus lymphocytes. It has an immunosuppressive effect.
  • Reducing epinephrine-induced hypertension in rabbits.
  • Reducing acute liver injury induced by CCL4 or D-galactosamine and protecting the liver.
  • Increasing uric acid excretion and reducing serum uric acid levels in hyperuricemia model rats.
  • Expelling wind and dampness, treating rheumatic arthralgia, muscular spasms, and joint pain.
  • Relaxing muscles and tendons, treating stroke, hemiplegia, facial distortion, numbness of limbs, and aphasia due to stiff tongue.
  • Reducing asthenic heat, treating hot flashes, cough due to overstrain, and fever due to infantile malnutrition.
  • Clearing damp-heat in the liver and gallbladder, treating jaundice caused by damp-heat.
  • Inhibiting the growth of liver cancer SMMC-7721 cells, liver cancer BEL-7402 cells, pancreatic ductal epithelial cancer PANC-1 cells, orthotopic pancreatic cancer BXPC-3 cells, and cervical cancer HeLa cells, and inducing apoptosis of lymphoid cancer cells U937.
  • Its alcoholic extract has a certain inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus faecalis, Shigella flexneri, Proteus, Salmonella typhi, and Bacillus paratyphi.
  • Studies have found that its water extract and alcohol extract can significantly prolong the survival days and survival rate of mice infected with influenza A and B viruses, and can significantly inhibit the lung lesions of mice.


Side Effects

  • A small percentage of patients taking it may cause nausea, vomiting, loose stools, heart palpitations, or a slow heart rate.
  • After the patient stops taking the medicine, if the above symptoms are not relieved, the patient should go to the hospital for treatment in time.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Qin Jiao should be controlled at 3-10g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, powders, or ground for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Qin Jiao should not take it.
  • Frail patients should not take it.
  • Patients with frequent urination or loose stools should not take it.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take it under the guidance of a doctor.