Tian Ji Huang (Di Er Cao or Hypericum japonicum)

What Is Tian Ji Huang

Tian Ji Huang commonly known as Di Er Cao is the dried whole part of Hypericum japonicum Thunb., which is an annual to short-lived perennial herb belonging to the family Hypericaceae. It is a relatively practical Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shengcao Yaoxing Beiyao> (Essentials of Unprocessed Herbal Medicine Properties) in the 50th year of Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty (1,711 AD).

There are about 510 species of Hypericum, which are mainly distributed in temperate and subtropical regions of the world. Some of these species are common ornamental plants and some are medicinal plants.

Hypericum japonicum Thunb. is known as matted St. John’s-wort. This plant prefers warm and humid environments. They grow well in full sun and moist soil. They often grow in field margins, ditch margins, grasslands, and wastelands at altitudes below 2,800 meters. They are distributed in China, Japan, Korea, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia.

Hypericum japonicum Thunb

In summer and autumn, when Hypericum japonicum Thunb blooms, people gather them, remove impurities, dry them in the sun, cut them into sections, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Tian Ji Huang contains japonicins A~D, sarothralen A~D, saroaspidin A, sarothralin G, sarothralin, hyperjaponicol A~D, hyperjapone A~E, hyperjaponol A~H, hyperjapone I~F, Japonicol A~H, quercetin, quercitrin, quercetin-7-O-α-l-rhamnoside, rutin, isoquercitrin, sarothranol, dihydrokaempferol, hypericumol A~C, isojacareubin, deoxyisojacareubin, jacarelhyperol A, jacarelhyperol B, sarolactone, saropyrone, japonicumone A, japonicumone B, japopyrone A, japopyrone B, saropeptate, betulinic acid, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, chlorogenic acid, japonone A, japonone B, volatile oils, and some metallic Elements.

According to the <Lingnan Caiyao Lu> (Records of Picking Herbs in Lingnan), the medicinal nature of Tian Ji Huang is relatively cool, with a bitter taste.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to drain dampness to relieve jaundice, clear heat and remove toxins, promote blood circulation and reduce swelling, and treat jaundice due to damp-heat, acute hepatitis, chronic hepatitis, infectious hepatitis, viral hepatitis, acute mastitis, acute appendicitis, lung abscesses, eczema, carbuncles, sores, stomatitis, stones in the intrahepatic bile duct, cholestasis, gastrointestinal dysfunction, internal bleeding, tumor, traumatic injury, and bacterial disease.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting LPS-induced NO and proinflammatory cytokines production in RAW264.7 cells [1].
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging DPPH free radicals, inhibiting β-carotene bleaching and lipid peroxidation, reducing oxidative damage to DNA induced by hydroxyl radicals [2].
  • Reducing D-galactosamine or CCl4-induced liver injury in mice and protecting the liver [3, 4].
  • Reducing serum triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and atherosclerotic index levels and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in hyperlipidemia model mice.
  • Clearing heat and promoting diuresis, and treating jaundice due to damp-heat.
  • Clearing heat and removing toxins, treating acute mastitis, acute appendicitis, lung abscesses, carbuncles, and sores.
  • Promoting blood circulation and reducing swelling, treating traumatic injury, and pain caused by ecchymoma.
  • Inhibiting the growth of tongue cancer TSCCa cells, nasopharyngeal cancer CNE-2 cells, liver cancer HepG2 cells, and liver cancer BEL-7404.
  • Its water extract showed 70% and 30% inhibition rates for HBeAg and HBsAg, respectively. In vivo study confirmed that its extract showed strong activity against duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV). In addition, its 75% ethanol extract has antiviral activity against H3N2 influenza virus-infected mice [5].
  • Its aqueous extract has inhibitory effects on scherichia coli, Alcaligens faecalis, Bacillus subtilis, E. aerogenes, Klebsiella pneumonia, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella enterica ser. Typhi, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus pyogenes, Xanthomonas vesicatoria, X. oryzae pv. oryzae and X. malvacearum [2].
  • The study found that japonicins A and B have obvious inhibitory effects on Plasmodiumberghei [6].
  • In vitro experiment showed that quercetin-7-O-α-L-rhamnoside isolated from H. japonicum had a good procoagulant effect. This flavonol glycoside (10−5 g/L) promotes coagulation by activating partial thromboplastin time and prothrombin time [7].
  • Studies have found that its extract can improve the immune function, reduce the toxic effect of 5-fluorouracil and prolong the survival time in the tumor-bearing mice [8]. In addition, subcutaneous injection of its extract (2 g raw material/kg) in rats can significantly increase the phagocytic rate of neutrophils and enhance the proportion of T lymphocytes in peripheral blood [9].


Side Effects

  • At present, there is no literature report that Tian Ji Huang has toxic effects, and no data is showing that taking it at the prescribed dose can cause serious adverse reactions.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Tian Ji Huang should be controlled at 15-30g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, lotions, or mashed for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Tian Ji Huang should not take it.
  • People with weakness of the spleen and the stomach should not take it.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take it under medical supervision.
  • Children, the elderly, and the infirm should take it under medical supervision.