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LORANTHUS [桑寄生, SANG JI SHENG]

Name : Loranthusloranthus_opt

Chinese Name : 桑寄生

Latin Name : Ramulus Loranthis

Overview

This herb is the dried foliaceous steam and branches of the Taxillus chinensis (DC) Danser [Loranthus parasiticus (L.) Merr.] of the family Loranthaceae. It is grown mainly in the Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Guangxi, and Guangdong provinces of China, where it is collected in the early spring, cut into pieces, dried, and used unprocessed or stir baked with wine.

In earlier times, loranthus was regarded as an anodyne and the herb was used to calm the uterus of a pregnant woman (to prevent miscarriage). Today, it is employed for menorrhagia, insufficient secretion of milk after giving birth, stiffness of muscles and bones, and aches and pains of the joints. Loranthus is also used to relieve cancer pain, along with other cancer treatment herbs.

Use of Loranthus in TCM

Bitter and sweet taste, and neutral, it acts on the liver and kidney meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Disperses Wind-Cold-Dampness exopathogens, invigorates the kidneys and liver, and strengthens the muscles and bones: for treating arthralgia, rheumatic sciatica, and aches and pain in the loins and legs, loranthus is often combined with pubescent angelica (du huo), achyranthes root(hua niu xi), and other herbs as in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang (R-58). It is also combined with Chinese angelica, pubescent angelica root and large-leaf gentian root (9 g each) in a decoction.
  2. Nourishes the blood and invigorates the Chong-Ren meridian: loranthus is prescribed with Chinese angelica (dang gui), donkey-hide gelatin, and dipsacus root (xu duan), as in Sang Ji sheng San, for the prevention and treatment of treatened abortion, miscarriage, and vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.
  3. Invigorates the liver yin, kidney yin, and nourishes the blood: to treat hypertension-induced headaches, dizziness, and ringing in the ears, loranthus is often with polygonum, dried rehmannia,chrysanthemum, tribulas, and siegesbeckia in a decoction.

Precautions

People with a history of heart ailments should use this herb with caution.

Side Effects and Toxicity

At the suggested therapeutic dose, this herb is safe. However, reports indicate that a few patients have developed dizziness, vertigo, poor appetite, liver-function disorders, abdominal distension, slight diarrhea, and dry mouth. The intraperitoneal LD50 of avicularin was 1.17 g/kg in mice. Death was caused by paroxysmal convulsion followed by respiratory inhibition.

Dosage

In a decoction of 10 to 20 g. For severe conditions, up to 60 g may be used.

Chemical Constituents

Loranthus contains flavonon compounds, avicularin quercetin, quercetrin, hyperin, oleanolic acid, beta-amyrin, mesoinositol, lupeol, myristic acid, flavonas, d-catechol, and arobinose.

Pharmacological Findings

  1. The root decoction inhibits the excitatory activities of the sympathetic nervous system, dilates coronary blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and reduces myocardial ischemic symptoms.
  2. Sedative and tranquilizing.
  3. Diuretic in rats and dogs.
  4. Antimicrobial and antiviral.

Clinical Findings

Used in fifty-four cases of angina pectoris for four weeks to five months. A decoction (300  g per day) prepared from the herb twice daily was effective in subjective improvement of ECG in 44 percent of the cases. The antiangina result usually appeared after two weeks of medication.

An injection from the herb used in patients with arrhythmia showed effectiveness against ventricular premature beats, paroxysmal fibrillation, and atrial premature beat but had no effect in chronic atrial fibrillation.