Tu Fu Ling (Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae or Glabrous Greenbrier Rhizome)

What Is Tu Fu Ling

Tu Fu Ling is also known as Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae or Glabrous Greenbrier Rhizome and is the rhizome of Smilax glabra, which is a perennial evergreen climbing shrub belonging to the Lily family. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Compendium of Materia Medica> in 1,578 AD.

This plant is native to China, the Himalayas, and the Indochina Peninsula. It often grows in forests, shrubs, mountain slopes, or river valleys. It has a certain economic value, which can be extracted from starch and tanning extracts, or used to make wine.

Smilax glabra

Every summer and autumn, people gather the rhizomes of Smilax glabra, wash them with water, remove their impurities and fibrous roots, cut them into thin slices, dry them, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Tu Fu Ling contains succinic acid, palmitic acid, ferulic acid, shikimic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, isoengelitin, astilbin, neoastilbin, isoastiblin, neoisoastilbin, quercetin, epicatechin, dioscin, glucopyranoside, β-sitosterol, daucosterol, hexose, starch, and volatile oil.

In general, Tu Fu Ling with light brown color, less fiber, and high starch content is preferred.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal nature of Tu Fu Ling is relatively neutral, with a sweet and light taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver and stomach meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Tu Fu Ling is often used to clear heat and remove toxins, drain dampness and promote urination, ease joints and muscles, treat syphilis, gonorrhea, erysipeloid, arrhythmia, gout, psoriasis, flat warts, trichomonas vaginitis, pyelonephritis, B Hepatitis, acute tonsillitis, leptospirosis, chronic lead poisoning, and mercury poisoning. It is an important component of Shi Du Qing Jiao Nang and Tong Feng Ding Jiao Nang.


  • Relieving gossypol poisoning and chronic lead poisoning.
  • Reducing the damage of thioethylamine to the liver and protecting the liver.
  • Inhibiting animal transplanted tumors, and liver cancer caused by aflatoxin.
  • Blocking β receptors and preventing arrhythmia caused by intravenous adrenaline injection.
  • Preventing cerebral ischemia, myocardial ischemia, cardiac ischemia-reperfusion, and relieving angina.
  • Inhibiting platelet aggregation and preventing atherosclerosis and thrombosis.
  • Reducing lipid peroxidation of gastric mucosa, promoting gastric juice secretion, increasing gastric juice PH, and preventing gastric ulcers.
  • Draining dampness and promoting urination, treating turbid urine and leukorrheal diseases.
  • Relieving genital itching and skin itching caused by damp-heat, and treating eczema.
  • Removing heat toxins, relieving skin redness and swelling, treating carbuncles, sores, and scrofula.
  • Treating syphilis and limb spasms caused by the side effects of mercury which is traditionally used to treat syphilis.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus haemolyticus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Typhoid bacillus, Shigella flexneri, Diphtheria bacillus, and Anthrax bacillus.
  • The study found that its water extract can selectively inhibit the inflammatory process after the release of lymphokines by sensitized T lymphocytes. (selectively inhibiting cellular immune response)


Side Effects

  • At present, there is no literature report that Tu Fu Ling has toxic effects, and no data is showing that taking it will cause serious adverse reactions.
  • Taking it for a long time may cause adverse reactions such as thirst and dry throat.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Tu Fu Ling should be controlled at 15-60g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, or ground into powder for external use.
  • It is not recommended to use iron utensils to boil it.
  • It is not recommended to drink tea while taking this medicine.
  • People who are allergic to Tu Fu Ling should not take it.
  • Patients with yin deficiency in the liver and kidney should not take it.
  • Patients with no damp-heat syndromes should not take it.
  • Patients  with gastrointestinal diseases should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.