Xi Xin (Asari Radix et Rhizoma, Manchurian Wildginger, or Asarum spp)

What Is Xi Xin

Xi Xin commonly known as Asari Radix et Rhizoma, Manchurian Wildginger, or Asarum spp is the root and rhizome of Asarum heterotropioides, Asarum sieboldii Miq. var. seoulense Nakai or Asarum sieboldii Miq., which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Aristolochiaceae. 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 128 species of Asarum, which are mainly distributed in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Among them, most of the species are used medicinally, such as Asarum heterotropioides, Asarum sieboldii Miq. var. seoulense Nakai, and Asarumsieboldii Miq.

Asarum heterotropioides belong to a shallow root system and a negative plant. They are taboo to be exposed to strong light during the growth stage. When cultivating them, they need artificial shade. They grow well in well-drained, humus-rich, and humid soil. They often grow in fertile and wetlands under forests and ravines. They can be found in the three provinces of Northeast China, Japan, and South Korea.

Asarum sieboldii Miq.var.seoulense Nakai is a variant of Asarum sieboldii Miq.. They often grow in forests and wetlands in ravines. They are distributed in Liaoning, Jilin, and Seoul.

Asarum sieboldii Miq. often grows in the damp humus soil under the forest at an altitude of 1,200-2,100 meters. They are distributed in Shaanxi, Sichuan, Hubei, Anhui, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, and Guangxi.

Asarum heterotropioides

In the summer fruit ripening period or early autumn, people gather the roots and rhizomes of Asarum heterotropioides, Asarum sieboldii Miq. var. seoulense Nakai or Asarum sieboldii Miq., remove the sediment, dry them in the shade, cut them into sections, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Xi Xin contains a lot of volatile oil, and its components include β-sesquiphellandrene, caryophyllene, 6-octadecenal, 7-tetradecene, β-bisabolene, nerolidol, α-terpinene, carveol, camphene, α-pinene, β-pinene, myrcene, phellandrene, dl-limonene, ocimene, limonene oxide, thujone, linalool, cineole, ledene, camphor, borneol, safrole, methyleugenol, elemicin, asarone, and thymol.

In addition, it also contains sesamin, asarinin, flavonoids, palmitic acid, seventeen acid, octadecanoic acid, myristic acid, glucose, galacturonic acid, arabinose, β-sitosterol, amino acids, and aristolochic acid I.

Generally, Xi Xin with the gray-brown outer skin, gray-yellow rhizomes, yellow-white or white cut surface is preferred. Chewing good quality Xi Xin will make your tongue feel numb.

According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal property of Xi Xin is relatively warm, with toxicity and a pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung, kidney, and heart meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to relieve exterior symptoms and dispel cold, dispel wind and relieve pain, dredge orifices, warm lung to resolve fluid retention, and treat wind-cold, headache, toothache, nasal congestion, runny nose, rhinitis, coronary heart disease, sick sinus syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, hypertensive headache, rheumatic arthritis, trigeminal neuralgia, rheumatic arthralgia, cervical spondylotic radiculopathy, nephrotic syndrome, recurrent oral ulcers, impotence, bradycardia, epilepsy, Meniere’s syndrome, chronic bronchitis, anejaculation, testicular swelling and pain, female infertility, and urticaria.

There are about 150 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San, Wu Mei Wan, Ma Huang Fu Zi Xi Xin Tang.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting mouse ear swelling induced by croton oil and rat foot swelling induced by carrageenan.
  • Anti-oxidation, enhancing superoxide dismutase activity, reducing malondialdehyde content.
  • Raising the pain threshold and inhibiting the pain caused by the tail-flick experiment and the acetic acid writhing experiment in mice.
  • Inhibiting swine influenza virus, Newcastle disease virus, human papillary virus, respiratory syncytial virus.
  • Relaxing the smooth muscles of the trachea, reducing bronchospasm caused by acetylcholine or histamine.
  • Antagonizing the convulsions caused by electrical stimulation and pentylenetetrazole, prolonging the incubation period of convulsions and the time of death in mice, and reducing the mortality rate.
  • Promoting the proliferation of T and B lymphocytes and improving specific immunity.
  • Asarinin can inhibit the expression of adhesion molecules to a certain extent, and can partially replace the anti-rejection effect of cyclosporine A, thereby improving the survival rate of organ transplantation and reducing the damage of pathological morphology.
  • Activating myocardial cells, dilating blood vessels, and Reducing the degree of acute myocardial ischemia caused by pituitrin.
  • Relieving exterior symptoms and treating headaches and body pains caused by wind-cold.
  • Relieving stuffy nose, and treating rhinitis, nasal congestion, runny nose, and headache caused by wind-cold.
  • Expelling wind and cold, treating headache due to wind-cold, toothache, wind-cold-dampness arthralgia, cold pain in waist and knees.
  • Warming lung to resolve fluid retention, treating fever, aversion to cold, anhidrosis, cough and asthma, and excessive thin sputum.
  • Treating cough, chest fullness, shortness of breath caused by retention of cold fluid in the lung.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Propionibacterium freudenreichii, Corynebacterium jack, Corynebacterium desiccatum, Micrococcus luteus, and Candida albicans.
  • Its ethanol extract has a certain inhibitory effect on leukemia HL-60 cells, gastric cancer BGC-823 cells, oral cancer KB cells, and liver cancer Bel-7402 cells in vitro.
  • The water-soluble substance of Xi Xin can raise the blood pressure of the rabbits that norepinephrine acts, and its volatile oil can make the blood pressure lower.


Side Effects

Xi Xin is poisonous, and its toxic ingredients are safrole and aristolochic acid.

Overdose of its powder or decoction with a short decoction time may cause poisoning. If the following conditions occur, stop using it immediately and seek medical attention.

Toxic reactions include headache, vomiting, irritability, sweating, the rigidity of neck and nape, thirst, increased body temperature, and blood pressure, mildly dilated pupils, and flushed face.

In severe cases, it may cause teeth clenched, opisthotonos, unconsciousness, the convulsion of limbs, anuresis, or respiratory paralysis.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Xi Xin should be controlled at 1-3g.
  • When taking its powder, the dosage should be controlled within 0.5-1g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, powders, or ground for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Xi Xin should not take it.
  • It should not be taken at the same time as Veratrum.
  • People with yin deficiency or blood deficiency should not take it.
  • People with lung dryness should not take it.
  • People with hyperhidrosis due to qi deficiency should not take it.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take it.
  • Children, the elderly, and the infirm should not take it.