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CAPILLARIS [茵陳蒿, YIN CHEN HAO]

Name : Capillarisartemisia-capillaris-detail_opt

Chinese Name : 茵陳蒿

Latin Name : Herba Artemisiae Capillaris

Overview

This herb is the dried plant of Artemisia scoparia Waldst. et Kit. Or A. capillaries Thunb. of the family Compostiae. It is mainly grown in the Shaanxi, Anhui, and Shanxi provinces of China. It is collected in the spring or autumn, dried, and used unprocessed.

Traditionally, the herb was used as a febrifuge, diuretic, antispasmodic, and antiperiodic, and for jaundice, dysmenorrheal, ague,and ephemeral fevers. Today, capillaries is used to eliminate Heat-Dampness in the liver and gallbladder and to treat hepatitis, jaundice, cholecystitis, and calculus in the gallbladder.

Use of Capillaris in TCM

Bitter in taste, and slightly cold, it acts on the spleen, stomach, liver, and gallbladder meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Eliminates internal Heat and Dampness : to treat acute hepatitis, jaundice, yellow discoloration of the eyes and skin, fever, and scanty, dark urine due to Heat and Dampness accumulation in the liver and gallbladder, capillaries is prescribed with rhubarb and gardenia, as in Yin Chen Hao Tang (R-67).
  2. Treats inflammation of the gallbladder and gallstones : capillaries is combined with scute root, curcuma, lysimachia, and bupleurum to treat these conditions.
  3. Eliminates parasites: to treat ascariasis and enterobiasis in the gallbladder, capillaries can be used with chrysanthemum and coptis root in a decoction.
  4. Lowers blood cholesterol levels : capillaries can be consumed as a tea or in a decoction to be drunk daily for one to three months to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Dosage

In a decoction of 9 to 15 g.

Precautions

People with jaundice not caused by Heat and Dampness should use this herb with caution.

Side Effects and Toxicity

No undesirable side effects or toxicity were reported at the therapeutic dose in classical Chinese material medica. A daily dose of 24 g for thirty days caused dizziness, nausea, upper abdominal distension, and heartburn in seven out of seventy-one patients. These symptoms usually appeared in the first day of medication and gradually disappeared. Two other cases had mild diarrhea and one patient complained of transient palpitations.

Chemical Constituents

Capillaris contains essential oil, coumarins, and flavones.

  1. Artemisia scoparia : from the essential oil, alpha- and beta-pinene, myreene, cincol, p-cymol, carvone, thujone, apiole, and isoeugenol were isolated. From the flavones, 7-methylaromadendrin, rhamnocitrin, eupalitin, cirsimaritin, and eupatolin were isolated.
  2. Artemisia capillaries ; in the volatile oil, capillene, capillone, capillin, capillarisin, dehydrofalcarinone, scoparone, and norcapillene were isolated. In the flavones, cirsilineol, cirsimarine, genkwanin, rhamnocitrin, capillarisin, arcapillin, and eupatolitin were isolated. In the coumarins, scoparone, and two stereo isomers constituents, capillartemisins A and B, were isolated.

Pharmacological Findings

Capillaris increases the secretion of bile, bile salt, and bilirubin. It is antihypertensive, diuretic, antipyretic, analgesic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial, and lowers blood cholesterol. A decoction, aqueous extract, essensial oil, and alcoholic extract of A. capillaris and its active principle, scoparone, increased bile secretion. An intravenous injection of 0.25 g/kg of the aqueous extract to dogs with acute gallbladder intubation or administration of 1 g/kg of a refined extract of the herb to dogs with chronic gallbladder fistulae produced a cholagogic effect no matter whether the animals were healthy or had liver damage caused by carbon tetrachloride. Scoparone was found to be one of the choloretic principles.

The methanol extract of A. capillaris protected mice from carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatoxicity and inhibited elevation of serum glutamine oxalactic transaminase (GOT) and glutamine pyruvic transaminase (GPT). The active principles of the plant were flavones eupatolitin and arcapillin.