Wu Shao She (Black Striped Snake)

What Is Wu Shao She

Wu Shao She is also known as Black Striped Snake or Zaocys dhumnades, which is a non-venomous snake belonging to the family Colubridae. It is common animal medicine, which first appeared in <Lei Gong Pao Zhi Lun> (Master Lei’s Discourse on Processing of Chinese Materia Medica) in the Northern and Southern Dynasties420 AD–589 AD).

Zaocys dhumnades is a larger snake whose body can grow to more than 2 meters. It has a certain economic value. Its meat is edible and has high nutritional value. Its nutritional value is higher than that of chicken, duck, and beef. Its skin can be made into a Huqin membrane.

This snake is endemic to China and it is mainly distributed in Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Fujian, Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Sichuan, Guizhou, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan, Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Taiwan, and other provinces.

They are widely found in plains, hills, and low mountains. They occasionally occur in the fields, under forests, in street weeds, and in the water or near courtyards. They are agile and like to swim and hunt in the water.

Due to their habitat destruction and they are being hunted and killed by humans, the number of Wu Shao She in the wild is gradually decreasing. At present, some areas have begun to artificially breed them.

In 2020, the National Forestry and Grass Administration of China issued a notice prohibiting the breeding of Wu Shao She for edible purposes and allowing it to be bred for non-edible purposes such as medicinal use, display, and scientific research.

In summer and autumn every year, people catch black snakes, cut open their abdomens, remove their internal organs, dry them in the sun, remove their heads and scales, cut them into segments, use them directly, or stir-fry them with wine, or cook them with rice wine, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Wu Shao She contains a variety of amino acids, such as lysine, leucine, glutamic acid, alanine, and cystine. It also contains tropomyosin, uracil, thymine, cytidine, hypoxanthine, adenine, inosine, fructose-1, 6-bisphosphatase, brachystemidines A, isobutyl butyl phthalate, dihydroferulic acid, β-sitosterol, and 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde.

Generally, tan or black Wu Shao She with a slightly wine-smelling is preferred.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Wu Shao She is relatively neutral, with a sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver meridian.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it is often used to expel wind and dredge meridians, treat rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic arthritis, numbness and spasm, stroke, facial distortion, hemiplegia, convulsion, tetanus, leprosy, scabies, scrofula, malignant sores, urticaria, chronic urticaria, vitiligo, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, intractable pruritus, prurigo nodularis, and erythema multiforme.

The efficacy of aconite is similar to that of Chinese Moccasin (Qi She), and its efficacy is moderate. There are about 50 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing Wu Shao She, such as Wushe Zhiyang Wan, Bai Dian Feng Wan, and Huang Qi Pian.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced ear swelling in mice, and glacial acetic acid-induced hyperpermeability of abdominal capillaries in mice.
  • Raising the pain threshold and inhibiting the pain caused by the hot plate experiment and glacial acetic acid experiment in mice.
  • Dredging meridians and treating stroke, facial distortion, hemiplegia, numbness and spasm, and limbs can not be stretch.
  • Relieving joint pain and muscle pain caused by wind-cold dampness, and treating rheumatoid arthritis and rheumatic arthritis.
  • Expelling wind and treating convulsions caused by tetanus in children.
  • Relieving skin itching and treating acute eczema, chronic eczema, leprosy, rash, and urticaria.
  • Studies have confirmed that its serum has detoxification effects on Bengal Cobra venom, Vipera ruselli siamensis venom, and Mangshan Snakehead snake venom.


  • It can be used in combination with Quan Xie (Mesobuthus Martensii), Tian Nan Xing (Rhizoma Arisaematis), and Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae) to treat wandering arthritis, slow weakness of hands and feet, numbness and spasm, and limbs can not be stretch.
  • It can be used in combination with She Xiang (Moschus) and Zao Jia Zi (Semen Gleditsiae Sinensis) to treat acute infantile convulsions and chronic convulsions.
  • It can be used in combination with Chinese Moccasin (Bai Hua She) and Wu Gong (Centipede) to alleviate convulsions caused by tetanus.
  • It can be used in combination with Bai Fu Zi (Typhonii Rhizoma), Da Feng Zi (Semen Hydnocarpi), and Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae) to treat leprosy.
  • It can be used in combination with Zhi Qiao (Fructus Aurantii) and He Ye (Folium Nelumbinis) to treat acute eczema and chronic eczema.

Side Effects

Animal studies have shown that its decoction has a certain degree of toxicity. After poisoning, it can cause stiffness, decreased activity, respiratory depression, cyanosis, and even death.

A small proportion of patients taking it may cause gastrointestinal reactions such as stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting.

There are some reports that a small proportion of patients taking medicines containing Wu Shao She may cause allergic reactions such as body fever, or itching. Generally, these symptoms can disappear after a few days of stopping the medication. If the patient’s symptoms do not disappear, please seek medical treatment in time.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Wu Shao She should be controlled at 9-12g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, medicinal liquors, or ground for external use.
  • It is not recommended to use iron utensils to boil it.
  • People who are allergic to Wu Shao She should not take it.
  • Patients with blood deficiency causing wind should not take it.
  • Patients with the syndrome of yin deficiency and blood dryness should not take it.
  • Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children should not take it.