Home / Chinese Herb / LYCOPODIUM [伸筋草, SHEN JIN CAO]


Name : LycopodiumLycopodium_clavatum_(1289194411)_opt

Chinese Name : 伸筋草

Latin Name : Herba Lycopodii


This herb is the entire plant of  Lycopodium clavatum  L.of the family Lycopodiaceae. It is grown in the provinces of northern, central, and southwestern China, and Inner Mongolia. It is harvested in the summer, cleaned, dried, cut into sections, and either used without further processing or slightly stir baked.

Lycopodium is a popular herb for arthralgia in the muscles, tendons, and joints, and is used to relieve cancer pain, along with other cancer-treatment herbs.

Use of Lycopodium in TCM

Bitter in taste, and warm, it acts on the liver, spleen, and kidney meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Expels Wind-Cold exopathogens and relieves rheumatism:
  • For treating rheumatism, muscle and tendon pain, muscle numbness, leg stiffness, and difficulty in flexion and extension of limbs or hemiplegia, lycopodium is used with pubescent angelica, chaenomeles, white peony root, carthamus, clematis root, and cinnamon twig.
  • It is blended with chaenomeles and alangium (ba jiao feng) for treating leg muscle cramps (charley horse)
  • For treating chronic rheumatic disorders, painful joints, or muscular numbness, lycopodium can be combined with prepared rehmannia root, dipsacus, loranthus, Chinese angelica, acanthopanax, millettia, and homalomena rhizome (qian nian jian) in a decoction for effective pain relief.
  1. Relieves the severe pain of shingles (herpes zoster): The powdered form of stir-baked lycopodium can be mixed into a paste with sesame oil or another  suitable oil that can be applied externally to treat shingles.


In a decoction of 9 to 15 g, or 30 g for severe symptoms.


People with anemia, excessive bleeding, and pregnant women should use this herb with caution.

Side Effects and Toxicity

No adverse side effects or toxicity have been observed

Chemical Constituents

Lycopodium contains lycopodine, clavatine, beta-sitosterol, clavolonine, fewettine, clavoloxin, lycoclavanine, dehydrolycopodine, lycodoline, vanillic acid, ferulic acid, alpha-onocerin, azelaicacid, clavatol, nicotine, and lycoclavanol.

Pharmacological Findings

Lycopodium is antypyretic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic. It has been shown to increase the contraction of the uterus and small intestine in lab animals.