Home / Chinese Herb / CUSCUTA [菟丝子, TU SI ZI]


Name : Cuscutadodderpic_new_opt

Chinese Name : Tu si zi

Latin Name : Semen cuscutae


This herb is the dried, ripe seeds of Cuscuta chinesis Lam. of the family Convolvulaceae. The plant grows mainly in the Hebei, Henan, Jilin, Liaoning, and Shandong provinces of China. The seeds are collected in the autumn after they have ripened. They are dried in the sun and used unprocessed.

Diaphoretic, demulcent tonic, and aphrodisiac properties are ascribed to cuscuta seeds. They are  administered in cases of gonorrhea, incontinence, and leukorrhea, and as a nostrum in case of cross-birth (fetal position problem). If taken for a long time, they brighten the eyes, enliven the body, and prolong life.

Cuscuta is used to replenish the liver and kidneys, to prevent miscarriage, improve eyesight, and to treat sexual debility, impotence and nocturnal emission.

Use of Cuscuta in TCM

Slightly pungent and sweet in taste, and warm, it acts on the kidney, liver, and spleen meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Replenishes the liver and kidneys, and provides gonadotrophic action: for impotence, premature ejaculation, nocturnal emission, and tinnitus, cuscuta is combined with Chinese schisandra fruit, rubus, lycium fruit, and plantago seed, as in Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan.
  2. Nourishes the liver and enhances eyesight: to improve eyesight, cuscuta is often used with lycium fruit, processed rehmannia, chrysanthemum, and ligustrum fruit.
  3. Invigorates the kidneys and prevents misscarriage: to improve general weakness of kidneys and liver during pregnancy and prevent miscarriage, cuscuta (15 g) is prescribed with Chinese yam (9 g), dipsacus root (9 g), white atractylodes (12 g), and loranthus (15 g) in a decoction.


In a decoction of 6 to 15 g


People with symptoms of yin deficiency, hyperactive yang, constipation and scanty yellow urine should use the herb with caution.

Side Effects and Toxicity

No undersirable side effects or toxicity were reported at the therapeutic dose in classical Chinese materia medica. Toxicological studies show LD50 of the ethanolic extract of the herb was 2.465 g/kg in mice by subcutaneos administration. No toxic reactions were observed at un oral dose of 30 to 40 g/kg.

Chemical Constituents

Cuscuta seeds contain flavonoids, compounds, quercetin, quercetin-3-0-galactoside, quecetin-3-0-apiosy-galactoside, kaempferol, astragalin, and hypetrin, lignans, cuscutosides A and B, and other gylcosides, arbutin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and p-coumaric acid. Other ingredients include cholesterol, campesterol, beta-sitosterol, vitamin A, and acylated trisaccharides cus-1 and cus-2.

Pharmacology Findings

Cuscuta seed is imrhunostimulating, gonadotrophic, anticataract, anticarcinogenic, uterus contracting, cardiotonic, hypotensive, and antimicrobial.

  1. An intragastric administration of the 85 percent alcoholic extract of the seeds to mice with burn injuries increased the serum hemolysin level and the phagocytosis of peritoneal macrophages. The serum colony-stimulating factor (CSF) level was significantly elevated in dose-dependent manner in mice receiving a single dose or five intraperitoneal doses of 1.6 to 25.6 mg/kg of the alcoholic extract of the seeds.
  2. Oral administration of 10 g/kg of the herb’s decoction to rats increased the weight of the lobus anterior of hypophyseos, the ovary, and the uterus. It also increased the functions of the ovarian hcG/LH receptor.
  3. An oral dose of 1 g/kg three times a week as a decoction markedly delayed the apperance and retarded the growth of papillomas and the incidence of carcinoma in mice.
  4. Other actions: cuscuta seed increased cardiac blood flow, enlarged blood vessels, and was antidiuretic.