Tian Shan Xue Lian (Snow Lotus or Saussureae Involucratae Herba)

What Is Tian Shan Xue Lian

Tian Shan Xue Lian commonly known as Snow Lotus or Saussureae Involucratae Herba is the above-ground part of Saussurea involucrata, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Asteraceae. It is an extremely precious Chinese herbal medicine in alpine regions, which first appeared in <Yue Wang Yao Zhen> (Somaratsa, a classic of Tibetan Medicine) in the middle of the 8th century.

There are about 511 species of the genus, which are distributed in the northern temperate zone. Most of these species are relatively common in the Himalayan and alpine regions of East Asia. Among the more famous species include Saussurea involucrata, S. laniceps, and S. medus.

Saussurea involucrata is an extremely rare one-time flowering plant. They prefer humid and cool complex climates with strong sunlight. They mainly grow in rock crevices, gravel, and sandy wetlands in weathered belts and snow lines at an altitude of 3,600-4,800 meters. They are distributed in China, Russia, and Kazakhstan.

They take five years from germination to bloom. Due to their harsh growth environment and low natural reproduction rate, the wild S. involucrata are on the verge of extinction. Although researchers can obtain S. involucrata cells containing biologically active substances through plant cell culture technology, this method has not yet been put into industrial use.

Tian Shan Xue Lian (Snow Lotus or Saussureae Involucratae Herba)

In addition, its congeners S. laniceps, S. gnaphaloides, S. medusa, S. tridactyla, S.quercifolia, S.eriocephala, S. obvallata, S. gossypiphora, and S. leucoma can be used medicinally instead of it in some cases.

In summer and autumn, when S. involucrata blooms, people gather their above-ground parts, remove impurities, dry them in the shade, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Tian Shan Xue Lian contains hispidulin, jaceosidin, luteolin, nepetin, apigenin, 5,6-dihydroxy-7,8-dimethoxyflavone, apigenin 7-O-glycoside, hispidulin 7-O-glucoside, quercetin, kaempferol, rutin, isorhamnetin, coumarin, osthol, isopimpinellin, bergapten, xanthotoxol, alloisoimperatorin, oroselol, edultin, bufotalin, telocinobufagin, gamabufotalin, daucosterol, β-sitosterol, phenylpropanoids, lignans, sesquiterpenes, ceramides, and polysaccharides.

Generally, crisp Tian Shan Xue Lian with a lightweight and slightly fragrant is preferred.

According to <Ben Cao Gang Mu Shi Yi>, the medicinal nature of Tian Shan Xue Lian is relatively warm, with a slightly bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver and kidney meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to warm kidney to reinforce yang, expel wind and eliminate dampness, promote menstruation and blood circulation, and treat rheumatic arthritis, atrophic arthritis, chronic rheumatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, abnormal menstruation, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, leukorrhagia, cold pain in the lower abdomen, cough with lung-cold, measles, strain, light aging, osteoporosis, aplastic anemia, impotence, and infertility.

There are about 30 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Lu Gu Xue Lian Jiu, Xue Lian Oral Liquid, and Fu Fang Xue Lian Capsules.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced ear swelling in mice and carrageenan-induced paw swelling in rats.
  • Increasing pain threshold, prolonging the time of licking hindfoot in mice induced by hot plate experiment, and reducing the number of writhing in mice induced by acetic acid.
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging DPPH free radicals, hydroxyl free radicals, and ABTS free radicals.
  • Reducing brain damage induced by severe acute pancreatitis or D-galactose in mice. It has a neuroprotective effect [1].
  • Inhibiting DNCB-induced delayed-type hypersensitivity in mice, and promoting the production of specific antibodies in mice induced by sheep erythrocytes.
  • Inhibiting the increase of body weight in hyperlipidemia rats, reducing the serum total cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol content, and increasing the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol content.
  • Warming kidney to reinforce yang, treating impotence due to kidney-deficiency, soreness and weakness of waist and knees, muscle weakness.
  • Expelling wind and eliminating dampness, treating feebleness of waist and knees, insufficiency of liver and kidney, arthralgia caused by wind-cold-dampness.
  • Treating abnormal menstruation, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, leukorrhagia caused by deficiency-cold of kidney and cold accumulation in channel and vessel.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of SK-Hep1 liver cancer cells, PC-3 prostate cancer cells, and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells.
  • Its extract can increase the bone calcium content, the bone density of the distal femur, and the bone density of the midpoint of the femur in ovariectomized rats, and prevent and treat osteoporosis.
  • Studies have found that its ethanol extract can delay the survival time of mice under normal pressure, decompression and chemical poisoning and hypoxic conditions and the time of weight-bearing swimming in mice, and reduce the plasma lactic acid content of mice after swimming. It has anti-hypoxia and anti-fatigue effects [2].


  • It can be used in combination with Dong Chong Xia Cao (Cordyceps), Bai Jiu (White Liquor), etc. to treat hyposexuality and an inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex.
  • It can be used in combination with Mu Gua (Fructus Chaenomelis), Sang Ji Sheng (Herba Taxilli), Dang Shen (Radix Codonopsis), etc. to treat rheumatic arthralgia, dizziness, tinnitus, soreness and weakness of waist and knees, and abnormal menstruation.
  • It can be used in combination with Yan Hu Suo (Rhizoma Corydalis), Qiang Huo (Rhizoma et Radix Notopterygii), Chuan Wu (Radix Aconiti), Du Huo (Radix Angelicae Pubescentis), Cao Wu (Radix Aconiti Agrestis), Mu Gua (Fructus Chaenomelis), Xiang Jia Pi (Cortex Periplocae), etc. to treat rheumatic arthritis, atrophic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and degenerative osteoarthropathy.
  • It can be used in combination with Lu Gu (Os Cervi), Ba Qia (Rhizoma Smilacis Chinae), Bai Shao (White Peony Root), Chuan Niu Xi (Radix Cyathulae), Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Gan Cao (Licorice Root), Suo Yang (Herba Cynomorii), Tu Si Zi (Semen Cuscutae), Wu Jia Pi (Cortex Acanthopanacis), etc. to treat muscular spasm, numbness of limbs, soreness and weakness of waist and knees, dribbling urination, abnormal menstruation, cold pain in the lower abdomen.
  • It can be used in combination with Rou Cong Rong (Herba Cistanche), Xi Yang Shen (Panacis Quinquefolii Radix), Hong Hua (Flos Carthami), He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti), Shan Zha (Hawthorn Fruit), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), Ge Gen (Kudzu Root), Ze Xie (Rhizoma Alismatis), Pu Huang (Cattail Pollen), Huai Jiao (Fructus Sophorae), Shui Zhi (Leech), Niu Xi (Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae), Jue Ming Zi (Cassia Seed), Ji Nei Jin (Endothelium Corneum Gigeriae Galli), and Yi Mu Cao (Leonurus Japonicus) to treat soreness and weakness of waist and knees, weakness of limbs, fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, amnesia, insomnia, and dyspnea.

Side Effects

  • Animal experiments have shown that it has a significant termination effect on pregnancy in mice at various stages. It is toxic to the fetus.
  • Overdose of it may cause nausea, loss of appetite, bloating, constipation, aching limbs, decreased blood pressure, or cardiac arrhythmias.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Tian Shan Xue Lian should be controlled at 3-6g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, medicinal liquors, injection, or mashed for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Tian Shan Xue Lian should not take it.
  • It is forbidden to be taken by pregnant women.
  • Breastfeeding women should take it under medical supervision.
  • The elderly and infirm should take it under medical supervision.