Ku Shen


Ku Shen written in Chinese

Pinyin Name: Ku Shen

English Name: Radix Sophorae

Other Names: Ku Gan Cao, Ku Dou Gen, Xi Dou Gen, Ku Ping Zi, Ye Kuai Gen, Shan Kuai Gen

Tastes: Bitter

Origin: Ningxia, Gansu, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Qinghai provinces in China

Benefits of Ku Shen:

Ku Shen is literally translated as bitter ginseng, but it has nothing to do with ginseng. It is a different Chinese herb with different health benefits. Ku Shen is the dry root of Sophora. The plant is a dwarf-shrub, 50 to 120 cm high. Root is cylindrical and yellow in appearance. Stems are herbaceous, green, and with yellow hair when young and irregular longitudinal groove.

Ku Shen covers six meridians of liver, kidney, large intestine, small intestine, bladder and heart. Main functions are clearing heat, drying dampness, dispelling wind. Common uses and indications include damp-heat dysentery or diarrhea, hematochezia, jaundice, inhibited urination, edema, morbid leucorrhea, vaginal itching, scabies, leprosy, pruritus, noxious dampness, sores and ulcers. Recommended dosage is from 3 to 10 grams.

Ku Shen is widely used in Chinese herbal formulas. 1) Shen Jiao Wan is used to treat itchy skin. Its ingredient herbs include Ku Shen, Zao Jiao, Jing Jie and more. 2) Lu Bai San is used to relieve burn pain. Ku Shen is ground into powder and applied with sesame oil. 3) Shen Jiao Tang is used for the treatment of scabies. Its ingredient herbs include Ku Shen and Hua Jiao.

Common Herbs Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine

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