Introduction of Qing Dai:Natural Indigo or Indigo Naturalis.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Natural Indigo, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its botanical source one plant species, ①.Baphicacanthus cusia (Nees) Bremek., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of this plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of this plant species, the features of the herb Natural Indigo, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Indigo Naturalis(Natural Indigo).

purple flowers of Indigo Naturalis hanging on branches Pin Yin Name: Qīnɡ Dài.
 English Name: Natural Indigo.
 Latin Name: Indigo Naturalis.
 Property and flavor: cold, salty.

 Brief introduction: The herb Indigo Naturalis is deep blue powder prepared from the leaves of Baphicacanthus cusia (Nees) Bremek.(family Acanthaceae), Polygonum tinctorium Ait.(family Polygonaceae) or Isatis indigotica Fort.(family Cruciferae), used chiefly for the treatment of eruptive epidemic diseases and high fever in children, and used externally for oral ulcers, mumps, and skin infections. The herb is commonly known as Indigo Naturalis, Natural Indigo, Qīnɡ Dài.

 Botanical source: The herb Indigo Naturalis (Natural Indigo) is the deep blue powder prepared from the leaves of species (1). Baphicacanthus cusia (Nees) Bremek.(family Acanthaceae),(2). Polygonum tinctorium Ait.(family Polygonaceae), or (3). Indigofera tinctoria L.(family Leguminosae), or (4). Isatis indigotica Fort.(family Cruciferae). It is commonly known as "Natural Indigo,Common Baphicacanthus Rhizome and Root". The species (2). Polygonum tinctorium Ait. And (3). Indigofera tinctoria L. are introduced in the above sections under the title "Folium Polygoni Tinctorii(Indigoplant Leaf)" and "Folium Isatidis(Dyers Woad Leaf)". Other commonly used species is introduced:

(1).Baphicacanthus cusia (Nees) Bremek.

 seedlings of Baphicacanthus cusia Nees Bremek grow in a field,with lilac flowers Botanical description: Baphicacanthus cusia (Nees) Bremek is also known as Goldfussia cusia Nees., Strobilanthes cusia (Nees) O.Kuntze., it is commonly known as Mǎ Lán. Perennial herbs, the plant grows up to 30~70 cm tall. Stems and leaves are blue or atrovirens (greenish black) when dried. The rhizome is thick and stout, the fracture surface is blue. The base of the terrestrial stem is slightly lignified, slightly square, and slightly branched, nodes are swollen and covered with brown tiny hairs in the seedling stage. Leaves are opposite; petioles are 1~4 cm long; leaf blades are obovate-elliptic or ovate-elliptic, 6~15 cm long, 4~8 cm wide; the apex is sharp-pointed, slightly obtuse, the base is gradually narrowing, the margin is shallow serrated, corrugated or entire, the upper surface is glabrous, densely tapering stalactite lines, veins on the undersurface is slightly covered with brownish tiny fluff in the seedling stage, lateral veins are in 5~6 pairs.

 Flowers are sessile, form sparse spikes, terminal or axillary; flower bracts are foliate (leaf-like), narrowly obovate, caducous; 5 calyx lobes, in strips, 1~1.4 cm long, usually one lobe is large, spatulate, glabrous; corolla is funnelform, mauve (lilac), 4.5~5.5 cm long, 5 lobes are nearly equal length, 6~7 mm long, the apex is emarginate (slightly concave). 4 stamens, didynamous, pollen is elliptic, striated, striate has two undulant ridges; the ovary is superior, style is thin and long.

 Capsularfruit is slightly narrow spatulate, 1.5~2 cm long. 4 seeds, mucoreous. Its flowering period is from June to October, and the fruiting period is from July to November.

 flowering plants of Baphicacanthus cusia Nees Bremek with pink flowers and green leaves Ecological environment: The plant grows in wild fields or is cultivated in moist areas of mountainous regions or forest margins. The plant is mainly distributed in the Yangtze River area and the Zhujiang river area, in southwest area of China.

 Characters of herbs: The herb is midnight blue (navy blue) powder, light and easy to fly; or irregular porous block mass, which turns to fine powder when it is rubbed or crumbled by hand. The herb has a slight grass smell and a mild taste.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.inhibitory effects on Bacillus anthracis, Bacillus pneumoniae, Bacillus shigellosis, Vibrio cholerae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Staphylococcus alba, but had no inhibitory effects on Bacillus typhimurium, Staphylococcus, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which may be due to different extraction methods.

 Medicinal efficacy: Clear heat and detoxify, cool blood, clear liver and reduce fire, stopping convulsion. It is indicated for epidemic heat syndrome and macula, warm disease pyretic toxin and macula, blood heat and spitting blood, epistaxis, liver heat and frightened epilepsy, liver fire attack the lung and cough, chest pain and cough blood, macula, canker(sore of the mouth), mumps, carbuncle and swelling, pharyngitis, sore throat, infantile convulsive epilepsy, erysipelas, snake and insect bites. 

 Administration of Indigo Naturalis (Qīnɡ Dài): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Indigo Naturalis (Qīnɡ Dài)
TCM Books: ①.Internally:1.5~3 grams,better prepare to pill,powder.Externally:proper amount; ②.Internally:water decoction, 5~8 fen (about 1.5~2.4 grams), or prepare to pill,powder.Externally:sprinkle the dry powder,or apply stick; ③.Internally:prepare to finely ground herb powder, 1.5~6 grams, or prepared to pill.Externally:proper amount, sprinkle the dry powder, or apply stick.




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  • 1.Introduction of Qing Dai:Natural Indigo or Indigo Naturalis.

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