Quan Shen (Rhizoma Bistortae)

What Is Quan Shen

Quan Shen also known as Rhizoma Bistortae is the rhizome of Polygonum bistorta, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Polygonaceae. It first appeared in <Tu Jing Ben Cao> (Illustrated Classic of Materia Medica) in 1,061 AD.

This plant is cold-resistant and drought-tolerant and likes a cool climate. It often grows on hillsides or grasslands at an altitude of 800-3,000 meters. It can be found in China, Japan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Siberia and the Far East of Russia, and Europe.

In spring and autumn each year, people gather the rhizomes of Polygonum bistorta, wash them with water, remove their impurities and fibrous roots, cut them into pieces, dry them in the sun, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Polygonum bistorta

Quan Shen contains tannins, starch, gums, resins, gallic acid, ellagic acid, catechol, epicatechol, chlorogenic acid, succinic acid, quercetin, caffeic acid, protocatechuic acid, hyperoside, anthraquinone derivatives, rutin, flavones, and glucose.
Generally, Quan Shen with purple-brown or purple-black outer epidermis and brown-red or light brown-red cross-section is the best.

According to <Ben Cao Tu Jing>, the medicinal property of Quan Shen is slightly cold, with a bitter and astringent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung, liver, and large meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Quan Shen is often used to clear heat and remove toxins, cool blood and stop bleeding, calm the liver and stop the endogenous wind, treat enteritis, hepatitis, stomatitis, pharyngolaryngitis, tuberculosis, chronic tracheitis, gastric and duodenal bulbar ulcers, hemorrhoids, burns, snake bites, tetanus, hematemesis, epistaxis, uterine bleeding, edema, psoriasis, bacillary dysentery. It is an important component of Fu Fang Da Qing Ye He Ji.


  • Anti-inflammation, anti-mutation, and anti-tumor.
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging DPPH radicals and ABTS radicals.
  • Inhibiting the central nervous system and having analgesic and sedative effects.
  • Enhancing the phagocytic capacity of macrophages, promoting the proliferation of T lymphocytes, and improving immunity.
  • Inhibiting arrhythmia caused by chloroform, aconitine, or calcium chloride.
  • Dilating blood vessels, increasing coronary flow, and slowing heart rate.
  • Draining dampness, promoting urination, and relieving edema.
  • Calming the liver and stopping endogenous wind, relieving epilepsies, and spasms caused by tetanus.
  • Treating high fever and unconsciousness caused by febrile diseases.
  • Clearing damp-heat in the large intestine, treating diarrhea caused by damp-heat.
  • Cooling blood, relieving hematemesis, nose bleeding, uterine bleeding, hemorrhoids bleeding caused by blood heat.
  • The topical application of its decoction can treat furuncles, carbuncles, lymphatic tuberculosis, hemorrhoids, burns, venomous snake bites.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus subtilis, Proteus, Aerobacter aerogenes, Escherichia coli, dysentery bacillus, Meningococcus, and hemolytic streptococcus.
  • The study found that its n-butanol extract can prevent myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury, retinal ischemia-reperfusion injury, and myocardial hypertrophy.


Clinical studies have confirmed that it can be combined with some corresponding drugs to treat a variety of cancers, such as nasopharyngeal cancer, rectal cancer, cervical cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, head and neck malignancies.

Side Effects

At present, there is no literature report that Quan Shen 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 Quan Shen should be controlled between 4.5-9g.
  • It can be made into an oral decoctions or be used to soak and wash the affected part.
  • People who are allergic to Quan Shen should not take it.
  • It should not be used with iron agents such as ferrous sulfate and ferrous fumarate.
  • People with deep abscesses should not take it.
  • People with no syndromes of excess heat should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.