Yuan Hua (Genkwa Flos or Genkwa Flower)

What Is Yuan Hua

Yuan Hua also known as Genkwa Flos or Genkwa Flower is the flower bud of Daphne genkwa, which is a deciduous shrub belonging to the family Thymelaeaceae. It is a well-known and widely used traditional Chinese medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (around 100 BCE).

Daphne genkwa is commonly known as Lilac daphne, which is a medicinal plant native to East Asia. It is distributed in China and Korea.

This plant is drought tolerant and likes a warm environment. It often grows in rice fields, hillsides and valley edges at an altitude of 300-1,000 meters.

Daphne genkwa

In the spring of each year, people gather the unopened flower buds of Daphne genkwa, remove their impurities, dry them in the sun, use them directly, or stir-fry them with vinegar, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Yuan Hua contains daphnoretin, umbelliferone, eleutheroside B1, daphnetin, edgeworthin, edgeworin, genkwanin, luteolin, apigenin, kaempferol, genistein, dihydrokaempferol, quercetin, sesamin, lariciresinol, salicifoliol, vladinol D, Isolariciresinol, β-sitosterol, daucosterol, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate, syringaldehyde, aliphatic compounds, and aromatic compounds.

Generally, lilac or gray-green Yuan Hua with dense and soft short hairs is preferred.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal nature of Yuan Hua Ji is relatively warm, with toxicity and a pungent and bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung, spleen, and kidney meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Yuan Hua is often used to remove water retention, expel phlegm and stop cough, kill insects, treat exudative pleurisy, ascites, chronic bronchitis, pediatric pneumonia, skin ulcers, head sores, tinea tonsure, stubborn dermatitis, chilblains, lymph tuberculosis, acute mastitis, infectious hepatitis, and rheumatic arthritis. It is an important component of Shi Zao Tang.


  • Inhibiting the central nervous system and having analgesic, sedative, and anticonvulsant effects.
  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced mouse ear swelling and egg white-induced mouse foot plantar swelling.
  • Improving the activity of superoxide dismutase and catalase, removing free radicals, and inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
  • Inhibiting the expression of matrix metalloproteinases in A-549 lung cancer cells and the growth of non-small cell lung cancer cells.
  • Killing soybean cantharidin larvae, nematodes, and dewormers.
  • Stimulating the intestinal mucosa, inducing diarrhea and diuresis.
  • Relieving cough, asthma, chest pain, and tympanites caused by fluid retention in the chest and hypochondrium.
  • Treating pleural effusion, ascites, and systemic edema.
  • Expelling phlegm and stopping cough, treating chronic bronchitis and pediatric pneumonia.
  • Relieving skin sores and abscesses, treating head sores, tinea tonsure, and stubborn dermatitis.
  • Inhibiting pneumonia bacillus, hemolytic streptococcus, influenza bacillus, and some dermatophytes.
  • Studies have found that it contains yuanhuacin, which can enhance the contraction tension of the isolated uterus of rats in estrus and early pregnancy, and has the effect of inducing labor.


  • It can be used in combination with Da Zao (Fructus Jujubae), etc. to treat chronic bronchitis.
  • It can be used in combination with Lv Dou (Mung Bean), etc. to treat rheumatic arthritis.
  • It can be used in combination with Hong Hua (Flos Carthami), alcohol, etc. to treat chilblains.
  • It can be used in combination with Xiong Huang (Realgar), petrolatum, etc. to treat head sores, tinea tonsure, and stubborn dermatitis.
  • It can be used in combination with Gan Sui (Radix Kansui), Jing Da Ji (Radix Euphorbiae Pekinensis), Da Zao (Fructus Jujubae), etc. to treat pleural effusion, ascites, and systemic edema.

Side Effects

  • Yuan Hua is poisonous. Its toxic ingredients are genistein A, flavonoids, benzoic acid, and irritating oils.
  • Overdose of it may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, mild headache, or hematuria.
  • In severe cases, it may cause dehydration, shock, bloody diarrhea, convulsions, or respiratory failure.
  • Individual patients taking it may cause tinnitus, vertigo, dry mouth, burning in the stomach, nausea, or vomiting.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Yuan Hua should be controlled at 1.5-3g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, powders, or ground for external use.
  • Stir-frying it with vinegar can weaken its toxicity.
  • People who are allergic to Yuan Hua should not take it.
  • It should not be used with Gan Cao (Licorice Root).
  • It should not be taken with drugs containing aminophylline, digitalis, levodopa, tetracycline, or sulfonamides.
  • Patients with the deficiency of vital energy should not take it.
  • Patients with renal insufficiency should not take it.
  • Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, the elderly, and children should not take it.