Shan Ci Gu (Pseudobulbus Cremastrae seu Pleiones)

What Is Shan Ci Gu

Shan Ci Gu also known as Pseudobulbus Cremastrae seu Pleiones is the pseudobulb of Cremastra appendiculata, Pleione bulbocodioides, or Pleione yunnanensis, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Orchidaceae. It first appeared in <Ben Cao Shi Yi> (Supplements to Newly Revised Materia Medica) around 739 AD.

Cremastrae appendiculata has a high horticultural value. It often grows in wetlands near forest edges or ditch edges at an altitude of 500-2,900 meters. It is distributed in China, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan.

Pleione bulbocodioides grows under the evergreen broad-leaved forest or shrub edges at an altitude of 900-3,600 meters. It is endemic to China and is distributed in Shaanxi, Gansu, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, and Tibet.

Cremastra appendiculata

Pleione yunnanensis often grows on forest edges at an altitude of 1,100-3,500 meters. It can be found in southwestern China and northern Myanmar.

In summer and autumn, people gather Cremastra appendiculata, Pleione bulbocodioides, or Pleione yunnanensis, remove their above-ground parts and impurities, separate their pseudobulbs, wash them with water, steam or boil them thoroughly, dry them, and cut them into thin slices, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Cremastrae appendiculata contains phenanthrene compounds, bibenzyl compounds, cremastosine, cinnamic acid, 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid vanillin, ethyl acetate, 3,4-dihydroxyphenethyl alcohol, catechin, and p-hydroxyl Benzaldehyde, β-daucosterol VIII, gastrodine, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, emodin methyl ether, quercetin, tangolic acid, and batatasin III.

Pleione bulbocodioides contains dihydrophenanthrene compounds, bibenzyl compounds, cremastosine, β-sitosterol, ergosta-4,6,8,(14),22-tetraen-3-one, gastrodine, β-daucosterol, bisflavonoids, methylparaben, cinnamic acid, syringaresin, and methyl meta-hydroxyphenylpropionate.

Pleione yunnanensis contains phenanthrene compounds, bibenzyl compounds, cremastosine, trans-cinnamic acid, trans-ferulic acid, β-sitosterol, β-daucosterol, gastrodine, flavonoids, triterpenoids, and phenolic acid compounds.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal nature of Shan Ci Gu is relatively cool, with a slightly pungent and sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver and spleen meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Shan Ci Gu is often used to clear heat and remove toxins, alleviate swelling and dissipate indurated mass, treat thyroid cysts, suppurative finger inflammation, acute tonsillitis, stomatitis, lymphatic tuberculosis, liver cancer, gastric cancer, lung cancer, esophageal cancer, and other malignant tumors.

There are about 50 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as She Xiang Wan, Zi Jin Ding, and Dan Ci capsules.


  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging DPPH free radicals, hydroxyl free radicals, and superoxide anions.
  • Enhancing the proliferation ability of lymphocytes and the phagocytic ability of macrophages, and improving immunity.
  • Reducing total cholesterol and triglyceride content, increasing high-density cholesterol content, and preventing atherosclerosis.
  • Activating tyrosinase to treating pigmented skin diseases such as vitiligo.
  • Clearing heat and removing toxins, treating carbuncles, deep-rooted boil, pyogenic infection, and snake and insect bites.
  • Alleviating swelling and dissipating nodulation, treating scrofula, subcutaneous nodules, goiter and tumor, and cirrhosis.
  • Resolving phlegm and treating epilepsy caused by wind-phlegm.
  • Inhibiting the new formation of blood vessels in the body and tumor cell proliferation, and inducing tumor cell apoptosis.
  • Studies have found that its alcohol extract is effective against colon cancer HCT-8 cells, colon cancer HCT-116 cells, liver cancer Bel7402 cells, gastric cancer BGC-823 cells, lung cancer A549 cells, breast cancer MCF-7 cells, and breast cancer MDA-MB-231 Cells, ovarian cancer A-2780 cells and cervical cancer Hela cells have cytotoxic effects.
  • Experiments confirmed that its extract can inhibit a variety of molds and Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Fujisawa company obtains cremastosine from its extract, which can lower the blood pressure of rats. The antihypertensive effect can last for more than 30 minutes.
  • Its ethanol extract can selectively block the muscarinic M3 receptor, and it has the potential to become a drug for the treatment of respiratory diseases and allergic gastrointestinal syndrome.


  • It can be used in combination with Xiong Huang (Realgar), Zhu Sha (Cinnabaris), She Xiang (Moschus), etc. to treat carbuncles and sores.
  • It can be used in combination with Tu Bie Chong (EupolyPhaga seu Steleophaga), Chuan Shan Jia (Squama Manitis), Luo Gu (Mole Cricket), etc. to treat cirrhosis.
  • It can be used in combination with Chong Lou (Rhizoma Paridis), Dan Shen (Radix et Rhizoma Salviae Miltiorrhizae), Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae), Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri), Xia Ku Cao (Spica Prunellae), etc. to treat thyrophyma.
  • It can be used in combination with Jing Da Ji (Radix Euphorbiae Pekinensis), Zhu Sha (Cinnabaris), She Xiang (Moschus), Qian Jin Zi (Semen Euphorbiae Lathyridis ), etc. to treat senile vaginitis.
  • It can be used in combination with Mao Zhua Cao (Radix Ranunculi Ternati), Hai Zao (Seaweed), Huang Yao Zi (Rhizoma Dioscoreae Bulbiferae), Mu Hu Die (Semen Oroxyli), etc. to treat thyroid cysts.

Side Effects

  • At present, there is no data to show that serious adverse reactions will occur when taking Shan Ci Gu at the prescribed dose.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Shan Ci Gu should be controlled at 3-9g.
  • It can be made into decoctions or mashed for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Shan Ci Gu should not take it.
  • Patients with a deficiency of healthy qi should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.