Kun Ming Shan Hai Tang (Tripterygium Hypoglaucum)

What Is Kun Ming Shan Hai Tang

Kun Ming Shan Hai Tang is the root or entire plant of Tripterygium hypoglaucum, which is a woody liana belonging to the family Celastraceae. It is a practical Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Dian Nan Ben Cao> (Yunnan Materia Medica) in the first year of Zhengtong in the Ming Dynasty (1,436 AD).

There are four species of this genus, namely Tripterygium hypoglaucum, T. doianum, T. wilfordii, and T. regelii. Among them, T. hypoglaucum and T. wilfordii can be used medicinally. T. doianum is unique to Japan.

T. hypoglaucum often grows in sunny shrubs or under sparse forests at altitudes of 500-3,300m. They are unique to China and are distributed in Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hunan, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Yunnan.

In autumn, people gather the roots or all the parts of T. hypoglaucum, remove impurities, wash them with water, cut them into pieces, dry them in the sun, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Tripterygium Hypoglaucum

Kun Ming Shan Hai Tang contains 1β-benzoyl-8α-cinnamoyl-4α,5α-dihydroxy dihydroagarofuran, 1α-acetoxy-6β,9β-dibenzoyloxy-4β-hydroxy-dihydroagarofuran, triptolide, tripdiolide, triptonide, tripterolide, triptophenolide, triptriolide, 11-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl neotriptophenolide, triptpbenzene K, neotriptophenolide, triptpbenzene D, triptpbenzene L, quinone 21, triptonolide, triptpbenzene A, triptpbenzene J, triptonoterpene methyl ether, triptobenzene H, triptonediol, triptonoterpene, triptoquinone A, triptoquinone B, triptoquinone H, triptoditerpenic acid, triptoditerpenic acid B, hypodiolide A, celastrol, triptocallic acid D, triptocallic acid C, 3-epikatonic acid, oleanoic acid 3-O-acetate, triptohypol D, triptohypol E, triptohypol F, hypodiol, 3-acetoxy oleanolic acid, canophyllal, friedelin, wilforlide A, 3-oxo-oleanolic acid, and triptotriterpenic acid A.

In addition, it also contains alkaloids, flavonoids, β-sitosterol, daucosterol, fumaric acid, procyanidin B-2, procyanidin B-3, procyanidin B-4, p-hydroxyl benzoic acid, 3,4-dihydroxy-benzoic acid, tricosanoic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid.

According to <Dian Nan Ben Cao>, the medicinal nature of Kun Ming Shan Hai Tang is relatively warm, with a bitter and pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver, spleen, and kidney meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to expel wind and dampness, promote blood circulation and dredge collaterals, promote the reunion of tendon fractured bone, kill insects and remove toxins, and treat rheumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, erythema nodosum, Behcet’s syndrome, chronic nephritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, hyperthyroidism, thyroiditis, malignant tumour, reactive arthritis, allergic subsepsis, erythema multiforme, leprosy, psoriasis, tinea of feet and hands, dermatitis herpetiformis, fibrositis, vasculitis, traumatic injuries, cataclasis, excessive postpartum hemorrhage, cancerous swelling, and stubborn dermatitis.

There are about 30 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Kun Ming Shan Hai Tang Pian, Huo Ba Hua Gen Pian, and Kun Xian capsules.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting croton oil-induced ear swelling in mice, and collagen or complete Freund’s adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats.
  • Raising the pain threshold and inhibiting the pain caused by the hot plate experiment and glacial acetic acid experiment in mice.
  • Inhibiting lipopolysaccharide-induced T lymphocyte proliferation and B cell proliferation in mice, and sheep erythrocyte-induced mouse antibody production and reticuloendothelial system phagocytosis. It has an immunosuppressive effect.
  • Expelling wind and dampness, treating wind-cold-dampness arthralgia, the pain of tendons and bones, and flaccidity of lower limbs.
  • Promoting blood circulation and dredging collaterals, alleviating swelling and relieving pain, and treating traumatic injuries.
  • Promoting reunion of tendon fractured bone, and relieving pain and swelling of fractures.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of A549 lung cancer cells and inducing apoptosis of MOLT-4, HL-60, K562, and Jurkat leukemia cells.
  • Its sesquiterpenoid alkaloids have good anti-HIV activity.
  • Clearing the deposition of immune complexes in the glomerular basement membrane, reducing the permeability of the glomerular filtration membrane, inhibiting the proliferation of glomerular mesangial cells, reducing the excretion of urinary protein and hematuria, improving kidney function, and preventing glomerulosclerosis and tubulointerstitial fibrosis.
  • Studies have found that its extracts have very significant anti-fertility effects on male and female rats. This effect is safe and reversible to a certain extent.


  • It can be used in combination with Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Chuan Niu Xi (Radix Cyathulae), Qiang Huo (Rhizoma et Radix Notopterygii), Mu Gua (Fructus Chaenomelis), etc. to treat the pain of tendons and bones, and flaccidity of lower limbs.
  • It can be used in combination with Tian Nan Xing (Rhizoma Arisaematis), Ban Xia (Pinellia Rhizome), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), etc. to treat traumatic injuries.
  • It can be used in combination with Mu Fu Rong Ye (Folium Hibisci Mutabilis), Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae), etc. to treat traumatic injuries and fractures.
  • It can be used in combination with Qing Hao (Sweet wormwood), Bai Xian Pi (Cortex Dictamni), Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae), Zhu Ling (Polyporus), Yan Hu Suo (Rhizoma Corydalis), Dan Shen (Radix et Rhizoma Salviae Miltiorrhizae), Ban Xia (Pinellia Rhizome), Gan Cao (Licorice Root), etc. to treat psoriasis.
  • It can be used in combination with Yin Yang Huo (Horny Goat Weed), Gou Qi Zi (Fructus Lycii), Tu Si Zi (Semen Cuscutae), etc. to treat swelling and pain of joints, disadvantageous flexion and extension of joints, morning stiffness, articular pain, aversion to cold and preference for warmth, soreness and weakness of waist and knees.

Side Effects

  • Kun Ming Shan Hai Tang is poisonous and its main toxic component is terpenoid lactone alcohols.
  • A proportion of patients taking it may cause stomach upset, stomach pain, bloating, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, decreased menstruation, menstrual disorders, amenorrhea, oligospermia, decreased sperm motility.
  • Overdose of it may cause extensive scattered bleeding, erosion and necrosis of the mucous membranes of the lips, esophagus and stomach, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, strong abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stools, enlarged liver, headache, dizziness, numbness in the limbs, fatigue, irritability, hyperactivity, and hallucinations.
  • In severe cases, it may cause paroxysmal tonic seizures, weak and slow pulse, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, pulmonary edema, urinary retention, hemoglobinuria, elevated body temperature, hair loss, and even circulatory failure death.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Kun Ming Shan Hai Tang should be controlled at 6-15g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, medicinal liquors, or ground for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Kun Ming Shan Hai Tang should not take it.
  • Frail patients should not take it.
  • Patients with severe heart rhythm disorders should not take it.
  • Patients with renal insufficiency should not take it.
  • Patients with liver disease should not take it.
  • People with bone marrow hematopoietic disorders should not take it.
  • People with gastric or duodenal ulcers should not take it.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take it.
  • It should not be taken by growing children, teens, and those who are trying to conceive.
  • The elderly should take it under the guidance of a doctor.