Chuan Niu Xi – Cyathula – Radix Cyathulae

Chuan Niu Xi

English Name: cyathula root

Literal Translation: “ox knee from Sichuan”

Pharmaceutical Name: Radix Cyathula

Medica Category: Blood-Invigorating and Stasis-Removing Herbs

Properties: Chuan Niu Xi enters the Liver and Kidney channels; it is bitter and sour in nature and neutral in temperature.

What is Chuan Niu Xi?:

The Chinese Herb Chuan Niu Xi is the dried root of a species of flowering plant in the amaranth family (Cyathula officianalis Kuan; also Cyathula capitata (Wall.) Moq.) native to South and Southwest China; at present it is mainly cultivated in Sichuan and Chongqing provinces (although it is distributed sporadically in the surrounding provinces).

In classical times, no distinction was made between this herb, Chuan Niu Xi, and the herb Huai Niu Xi (which comes from a different genus of plant in the amaranth family). They are both very, very similar in their actions; the distinction between the two lies, then, in the relative potencies of their therapeutic actions. Chuan Niu Xi, for example, is stronger at activating blood circulation and breaking blood stasis (which means it is more suited to gynecological problems) whereas Huai Niu Xi is better at strengthening the tendons and bones (which means it is the better choice for lower back and knee pain). In this entry (as well as the entry for Huai Niu Xi) the therapeutic actions are listed in order from strongest to mildest so that the two herbs can be compared and contrasted.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Chuan Niu Xi:

Chuan Niu Xi activates blood circulation and breaks blood stasis to treat a wide variety of gynecological disorders to include amenorrhea, menstrual pain, and postpartum uterine bleeding with pain. This herb is also commonly used to dispel stasis that causes pain and swelling from traumatic/sports injuries.

Chuan Niu Xi promotes urination, eliminates blood stasis, and dispels damp-heat from lower jiao to address hemauria (with burning sensations while urinating).

Chuan Niu Xi has a downward action which addresses abnormal bleeding caused by “fire flaring upwards”; clinically, Chuan Niu Xi is used in this regard to directly address nosebleeds, toothaches, mouth and tongue ulcerations, headaches, and dizziness. It also helps put the “upward flaring fire” out at the base by tonifying Liver and Kidney Yin. This helps anchor Liver yang and keep Liver wind from rising (or “fanning the flames”) in the first place.

Chuan Niu Xi tonifies the Liver and Kidney to strengthen tendons and bones. Clinically, this herb addresses lower back pain with weak knees as well as general joint pain and swelling in the lower part of the body. Research in China suggests this herb’s applicability in addressing osteoarthritis, although this is not a verifiable “medical” claim at this stage of research.

–safety note:

Contraindicated during pregnancy and in cases of profuse menstrual bleeding.