Home / Chinese Herb / STEMONA ROOT [百部, BAI BU]


Name : Stemona Rootstemona_1_opt

Chinese Name : 百部

Latin Name : Radix Stemonae


This herb is the dried root of Stemona sessilifolia (Miq.), S. japonica Miq., or S. tuberosa Lour. of the family Stemonaceae. It is mainly grown in the Anhui, Hubei, Jiangsu, Shandong, and Zheziang provinces of China, where it is collected in the autumn. The rootlets are removed, sliced, and dried, and the result is known as dried stemona root. If the root is briefly steamed, dried, and sliced, it is called processed stemona root. The plant is related to A. lucidus and is sometimes called wild asparagus.

Traditionally, stemona root was used as a carminative, anthelmintic, and as an insecticide. Today, stemona root is used to relieve cough due to acute or chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, and used externally as an anthelmintic and as an insecticide for enterobiasis and lice.

For external application, the decoction is used as an enema or applied on the affected area of the skin in a paste form with wine.

Use of Stemona Root in TCM

Bitter in taste, slightly warm, and slightly toxic, it acts on the lung meridian.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Helps relieve coughs from acute or chronic bronchitis with dyspnea : stemona root is combined with platycodon, schizonepetea, and tangerine peel, or with ephedra and apricot kernel, as in Bai Bu Wan.
  2. Relieves chronic cough, whooping cough, tuberculosis, dry cough : stemona root is used with ophiopogon, frilitary bulb (chuan bei mu), dried rehmannia, and notoginseng.
  3. Used or applied externally as an anthelmintic agent for dermatological problems : for the skin disease of neurodermatitis, chronic eczema, and psoriasis, the aqueous or alcoholic extract of stemona root can be an effective anthelmintic for commonly encountered skin disease. Ointment herbal recipes, such as Bai Bu Gao, can also be used.


In a decoction of 3 to 15 g.


People with asthenia, and those with deficiency of the spleen and stomach with diarrhea should avoid this herb or use with caution.

Side Effects and Toxicity

Avoid an overdose because of the slightly toxic effect of the herb. Oral administration of this herbal decoction in large amounts or an overdose causes heartburn, dryness of the mouth, nose, and pharynx, dizziness, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, anorexia.

Chemical Constituents

The root of the herb contains biologically active alkaloids. The root of S. sessilifolia contains tuberostemonine and oxotuberostemonine. From the root of S. japonica, ptotostemonine, stemonamine, and isostemonamine were isolated. Also, tuberostemonine, stenine,  oxotuberostemonine, stemonine, stemotinine, and isostemotinine were isolated from S. tuberosa.

Pharmacological Findings

  1. Antitussive and expectorative. The stemona extract or alkaloid can reduce the excitation action on the respiratory center of an animal and inhibit the cough reflex. It can relax the trachea spasms caused by histamin.
  2. Insecticide. The aqueous and the 70 percent alcoholic extract of the herb were lethal to Pediculus capitis and P. vestimenti. It was also able to kill lice ova. The alcoholic extract killed Pediculus pubis in a few minutes after contact.
  3. Antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal. The herb’s decoction was in hibitory against multiple species of bacteria and fungi, and effective in mice infected with the influenza virus.