Sheng Ma (Rhizoma Cimicifugae)

What Is Sheng Ma

Sheng Ma also known as Rhizoma Cimicifugae is the rhizome of Cimicifuga heracleifolia, Cimicifuga dahurica or Cimicifuga foetida, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Ranunculaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

There are about 18 species of cimicifuga, which are distributed in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Among them, the more common ones are Cimicifuga heracleifolia, Cimicifuga dahurica, Cimicifuga foetida, and Cimicifuga racemosa.

Cimicifuga heracleifolia often grows in hillside grass or shrubs. They grow well in deep, fertile, well-drained sandy loam. They are distributed in the three northeastern provinces of China, North Korea, and Russia.

Cimicifuga dahurica often grows in mountain forest edge shrubs, hillside open forests, or grasslands between 300-1,200 meters above sea level. They are distributed in northern China, Mongolia, and Russia.

Cimicifuga foetida likes a warm and humid climate. They often grow in mountain forest edges, forests, or roadside grasses between 1,700-2,300 meters above sea level. They are distributed in China, Russia, North Korea, Mongolia, and other Asian countries.

Cimicifuga racemosa commonly black cohosh or Actaea racemosa is a medicinal plant native to North America. The extract of this plant can be made into herbal medicine and dietary supplements. Its chemical composition and biological activity are similar to Sheng Ma, and it is often used to treat the female menopausal syndrome.

Cimicifuga heracleifolia

In autumn, people gather the rhizomes of Cimicifuga heracleifolia, Cimicifuga dahurica or Cimicifuga foetida, remove impurities, and their fibrous roots, dry them in the sun, cut them into slices, use them directly, or stir-fry them with honey, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Sheng Ma contains cimigenol, cimicifugoside, 25-O-methylcimicgenol, dahurinol, dehydroxydahurinol, 12β-hydroxycimigenol, 7β-hydroxycimigenol, 25-O-acetylcimigenol, cimicifol, 27-deoxyactein, actein, acerionol, heracleifolinol, isodahurinol, isoferufic acid, caffeic acid, cimicifugic acid, ferulic acid, sinapic acid, piscidic acid, fukiic acid, cimicifugamide, isocimicifugamide, cimicifugin, norcimicifugin, cimicifugin glucoside, visnagin, kellol, alkaloids, monoterpenes, polysaccharides, tannins, volatile oils, and sterols.

Generally, the solid Sheng Ma with yellow-green or pale yellow-white section, cracks, and unevenness is preferred.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to relieve exterior symptoms and promote eruptions, clear heat and remove toxins, elevate yang, and treat purulent infection, neurodermatitis, middle-aged and elderly neurotic tinnitus, measles, multiple dermatitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, perimenopausal syndrome, osteoporosis, nose bleeding, gum bleeding, toothache, urinary retention, anal prolapse, uterine prolapse, proctitis, chronic gastritis, hemorrhoids, and Parkinson’s syndrome.

There are about 50 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan, Yi Qi Cong Ming Wan, and Xin Yi San.

Benefits

  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging hydroxyl radicals.
  • Anti-allergy, inhibiting Th2-type allergic contact dermatitis in mice induced by fluorescein isothiocyanate.
  • Inhibiting respiratory syncytial virus, hepatitis B virus, and influenza A H1N1 virus.
  • Raising the pain threshold and reducing the number of writhing in mice caused by acetic acid.
  • Promoting gastrointestinal emptying, increasing serum gastrin and plasma motilin content, and regulating gastrointestinal motility.
  • Inhibiting intestinal spasm caused by acetylcholine chloride, histamine, or barium chloride.
  • Reducing liver damage induced by CCL4 and protecting the liver.
  • Reducing serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels in hyperlipidemia rats.
  • Reducing the content of glutamate dehydrogenase in mouse islet cells cultured in vitro, reducing insulin secretion, and treating hyperammonemia and hyperinsulinemia syndrome.
  • Relieving exterior symptoms, treating fever and headache caused by wind-heat or warm diseases.
  • Treating fever, aversion to cold, anhidrosis, headache, and cough caused by wind-cold.
  • Treating forehead headache, nausea, dysphoria, fullness, and oppression in chest and abdomen caused by wind-heat complicated by dampness.
  • Promoting eruptions and treating the insufficient outbreak of early measles.
  • Clearing heat, treating gum swelling and pain, mouth and tongue sore, throat swelling and sore caused by the exuberance of stomach fire.
  • Treating erysipelas on the head, redness and swelling of the head and face, and sore throat caused by wind-heat pestilence.
  • Removing heat toxins, treating skin ulcers, and maculae caused by warm toxins.
  • Invigorating qi and lifting yang, treating the lack of food accompanied by abdominal distension, chronic diarrhea, uterine prolapse, rectal prolapse, and fatigue caused by deficiency of qi in middle-jiao.
  • Treating shortness of breath caused by depression of primordial energy in the chest.
  • Treating menorrhagia and uterine bleeding caused by collapse from qi deficiency.
  • Its chloroform extract can inhibit mouse diarrhea caused by senna.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of human liver cancer HepG2 cells, MCF-7 cells, HeLa cells, and lung cancer A549 cells, and inducing apoptosis of HL-60 cells, K562 cells, and SGC-7091 cells.
  • Inhibiting the osteoporosis caused by the removal of the ovaries in rats, increasing the bone density and the number of bone minerals, and antagonizing the osteoporosis caused by the decrease of estrogen.
  • Studies have found that its total saponins can improve the symptoms of depression and perimenopausal syndrome in patients with perimenopausal depression.

Combinations

  • It can be used in combination with Sang Ye (Mulberry Leaf), Ju Hua (Flos Chrysanthemi), Bo He (Mentha), and Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis) to treat fever and headache caused by wind-heat or warm diseases.
  • It can be used in combination with Ma Huang (Ephedra), Ju Hua (Flos Chrysanthemi), Bo He (Mentha), and Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis) to treat fever, aversion to cold, anhidrosis, headache, and cough caused by wind-cold.
  • It can be used in combination with Ge Gen (Kudzu Root), Bai Shao (White Peony Root), and Gan Cao (Licorice Root) to treat the insufficient outbreak of early measles.
  • It can be used in combination with Shi Gao (Gypsum) and Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis) to treat gum swelling and pain and mouth sores caused by heat toxins
  • It can be used in combination with Huang Qi (Radix Astragali), Ren Shen (Radix et Rhizoma Ginseng), and Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri) to treat the lack of food accompanied by abdominal distension, chronic diarrhea, uterine prolapse, rectal prolapse, and fatigue caused by deficiency of qi in middle-jiao.

Side Effects

At present, no data is showing that Sheng Ma has toxic effects.

Overdose of it may cause dizziness, tremor, or spasms of limbs.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Sheng Ma should be controlled at 3-9g.
  • It can be made into a decoction, medicinal liquors, or ground for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Sheng Ma should not take it.
  • People with a full outbreak of measles should not take it.
  • People with hyperactivity of fire due to yin deficiency should not take it.
  • People with hyperactivity of yang due to yin deficiency should not take it.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take it under the guidance of a doctor.
  • The unprocessed Sheng Ma is often used for clearing heat and removing toxins, and stir-fried Sheng Ma with honey is often used for elevating yang to cure prolapse syndrome.