Introduction of San Ke Zhen:Barberry Root or Radix Berberidis.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Barberry Root, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its botanical source five plant species, ①.Berberis poiretii Schneid., ②.Berberis sargentiana Schneid., ③.Berberis veithii Schneid, ④.Berberis deinacantha Schneid., ⑤.Berberis vernae Schneid., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these five plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these five plant species, the features of the herb Barberry Root, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Radix Berberidis(Barberry Root).

Barberry Root:herb photo Pin Yin Name: Sān Kē Zhēn.
 English Name: Barberry Root.
 Latin Name: Radix Berberidis.
 Property and flavor: cold, bitter.

 Brief introduction: The Herb Radix Berberidis is the dried root of Berberis soulieana Schneid, Berberis wilsonae Hemsl., Berberis poiretii Schneid. Or Berberis vernae Schneid.(family Berberidaceae), used a similar way to golden thread. It is commonly known as Barberry Root, Root of Chinese Barberry, Sān Kē Zhēn.

 Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Radix Berberidis(Barberry Root) as the dry root, stem, cortex or tree bark of the Berberis Linn. Genus, the Berberidaceae family and the Ranales order plant species (1). Berberis poiretii Schneid., or (2). Berberis sargentiana Schneid., or (3). Berberis veithii Schneid, or (4). Berberis deinacantha Schneid., or (5). Berberis vernae Schneid. These 5 commonly used species are introduced as:

(1).Berberis poiretii Schneid.


 Berberis poiretii Schneid.:flowering tree Botanical description: It is commonly known as "Xi Ye Xiao Pi", or Thin-leaf Berberis. It is a deciduous shrub, 1~2 meters tall. Old branches grayish brown, glossy, young branches purplish brown, densely black verrucous, spines short, usually simple, spines at the lower end of old or dry branches sometimes 3-branched, 4~9 mm long. Leaves tufted; Sessile; The paper; Leaf blade narrowly oblanceolate or lanceolate spatulate, 1.5~4 cm long, 5~10 mm wide, apex acute, base cuneate, entire, bright green above, pale green or grayish-green below, pinnately veined. Racemes pendulous, 3~6 cm long, with 6~20 flowers; 6 sepals, petallike, arranged in 2 wheels, oblong or obovate; Flowers yellow, reddish outside, 6 mm in diameter, 6 petals, obovate, slightly shorter than sepals; 6 stamens, ca. 1.5 mm; Ovary cylindrical, containing 2 ovules, style apical, stigma capitate flattened. Berry oblong, ca. 9 mm long, red when ripe. Seed obovate, surface smooth, purplish-black. It is flowering from May to June, fruiting from July to August.

 Berberis poiretii Schneid.:flowering branch Ecological environment: The shrub grows on sandy hills, hillsides, roadsides, or streams facing the sun. It distributes in the north, and northwest areas of China.

 Characters of herbs: The root is cylindrical head-shaped, branched and slightly twisted, with a diameter of 0.3~1.2 cm. The surface is yellow-brown, coarse and rough, with longitudinal wrinkles and root marks, and part of the surface is scaly and rolled or peeled off. The texture of the herb is hard, the fracture surface is fibrous, the cortex of the cross-sectional is narrow, yellow-brown, and the wood part is bright yellow. The herb has no smell, tastes bitter. The herb which color is yellow, strong bitter tastes is better.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.antihypertensive effect; ②.antibacterial effect; ③.increase the white blood cells; ④.anti-arrhythmia, etc.

 Medicinal efficacy: Clear heat, drying dampness, discharge fire and detoxify. It is indicated for damp heat dysentery, diarrhea, jaundice, eczema, ulcers and sores, canker sores, red eyes, sore throat, etc.

 Administration of Radix Berberidis(Sān Kē Zhēn): 
 
Reference: Administration Guide of Radix Berberidis(Sān Kē Zhēn)
TCM Books: ①.Internally:9~15 grams;②.Internally:water decoction, 0.5~1 liang(about 15~30 grams, fresh herb 2~4 liang, about 60~120 grams), or prepare to powder, infusing in wine.Externally:grinded into powder and apply;③.Internally:water decoction, 0.5~30 grams,or infusing in wine,Externally:proper amount, grinded into fine powder and apply stick.
 Contraindications,Precautions and Adverse Reactions: the herb Radix Berberidis should be used cautiously in conditions deficiency cold of spleen and stomach.

(2).Berberis sargentiana Schneid.


 Berberis sargentiana Schneid.:drawing Botanical description: It is commonly known as "Ci Hei Zhu", or Thorn Black-Pearl. Evergreen shrubs, 1~3 meters tall, stem cylindrical, internodes 3~6 cm long, young branches reddish, old branches yellowish-gray or tan, sometimes with sparse and distinct wart spots. Prickly, 3-branched, 1~3 cm long. Leaves alternate or 3 clustered; A few sessile; Leaves leathery; Leaf blade oblong-elliptic or oblong-lanceolate, 4~10 cm long, 1~3 cm wide, apex acute, with small spines, base cuneate, dark green above, light green or yellow below, margin with 15~25 spiny small serrates, pitch 2.5~4 mm, veins reticulate dense. Flowers 3~10 clusters, pedicels 1~2 cm long; Bracteoles lanceolate; Sepals 6, oblong or ovate; Flowers pale yellow, ca. 1 cm in diameter, petals 6, apex slightly concave, base with 2 nectary glands; 6 stamens, ca. 4.5 mm long, opposite to petals; Ovary cylindrical, with 2~3 ovules, stigma capitate flattened. Berry ovate to globose, blue-black, 6~7 mm long, 4~6 mm in diameter, stigma persistent, style absent, glabrous or slightly pink. It is flowering from April to May, fruiting from June to July.

 Berberis sargentiana Schneid.:growing tree Ecological environment: The shrub grows in sunny slopes, wastelands, roadsides, and mountain thickets with an altitude of 1,000~2,000 meters above sea level. It mainly distributes in the middle reaches area of the Yangtze River, southwest area, and other areas of China.

 Characters of herbs: The root is cylindrical, slightly twisted and branched, with a diameter of 0.3~0.7 cm. The surface is gray-brown, with longitudinal wrinkles and root marks, and the grayish-yellow wood part is exposed at the area where the cortex is peeled off. The texture of the herb is hard, the fracture surface is fibrous; the cortex of the cross-sectional is narrow, brown, and the wood part is yellow. The herb has no smell, tastes bitter. The herb which color is yellow, strong bitter tastes is better.

(3).Berberis veithii Schneid.


 Berberis veithii Schneid.:drawing Botanical description: It is commonly known as "Lan Guo Xiao Pi", or Blue-Berry Berberis. Deciduous shrubs. The young branch is reddish, the old branch is yellowish, with small wart points, 3 prongs, thick, 1.5~3.5 cm long. Leaves lanceolate, 5~11 cm long, 1~2 cm wide, apex acuminate, margin spiked 10~24, dark green above, light green below, glossy. Flowers 2-10 clusters; Pedicels 1.6~3.5 cm; Bracteoles ovate; External sepal oblong-ovate; Microstrip reddish-brown, sepals medium and sepals obovate; Petals obovate, apex rounded obtuse, base clawed; Stamens 4 mm long; Ovary has 4~5 ovules. Ovoid to elliptic, bluish pink, without persistent style.

 Ecological environment: The shrub grows in mountain thickets, it distributes in the north, southwest areas of China.

 Characters of herbs: The root is cylindrical, obviously twisted and branched, with a diameter of 0.15~0.6 cm. The surface is brown, with obvious longitudinal wrinkles, the texture of the branch root is hard, the fracture surface is fibrous, the cortex is narrow, brown, the wood part is bright yellow. The herb has no smell, tastes bitter. The herb which color is yellow, strong bitter tastes is better.

(4).Berberis deinacantha Schneid.


 Berberis deinacantha Schneid.:growing leaves Botanical description: It is commonly known as "Mao Ci Xiao Pi", or Cat-Thorn Berberis. Evergreen shrubs, up to 2 meters high. Stem erect, much-branched, young branches yellowish, with few wart spots, spiny, trifurcate, 1~2.5 cm long. Leaves clustered and leathery; Leaf blade oblong-lanceolate, thin oblong-obovate, 3~6 cm long, 6~9 mm wide, apex acute, base acute short stalk, upper green, glossy, lower yellow-green, margin 5~18 spines, teeth 1.5~2.5 mm long. Tooth length is 3~7 mm, lateral veins almost perpendicular to the middle veins, veinlets not significant. 8~20 flowers, clustered, pedicels 5~15 mm long, 2 bracteoles, ovate-oblong, ca. 2 mm; 6 sepals, arranged in 2 wheels; Yellow, 6 petals, ovate to obovate; 6 stamens, free; Ovary elliptic, containing 2~3 seeds, 3 sparses, persistent style 0.5 mm. Berry oval, red when ripe, powdered. Its flowering period is from March to April, fruiting from August to October.

 Ecological environment: The shrub grows on slopes, roadsides, and forest margins at an altitude of 600~2,000 meters above sea level. It mainly distributes in the northwest, the middle reaches area of the Yangtze River, southwest, and other areas of China.

 Characters of herbs: The root is cylindrical, slightly twisted, with a few branches, 10~15 cm long and 1~3 cm in diameter. The root is thick and tapering downward. The outer cortex is grayish brown with fine wrinkles and easy to peel off. The texture of the herb is hard, not easy to break, the fracture surface is uneven, bright yellow. The slices are nearly round or oblong, with slightly radial texture, and the pith is brown and yellow. The herb has slight smell, tastes bitter. The herb which color is yellow, strong bitter tastes is better.

(5).Berberis vernae Schneid.


 Berberis vernae Schneid.:flowering branch Botanical description: It is commonly known as "Shi Ye Xiao Pi", or Teaspoon-Leaf Berberis. Deciduous shrubs, 0.5~1.5 meters high. Branches thin, with a ridge, young branches late purple, old branches dark gray, scattered black wart point. Spines usually unbifurcated, hard, 1~3 cm long. Leaves 3-8 clustered; Often spatulate or spatulate oblanceolate, 1~5 cm long, 0.3~1 cm wide, apex subacute, sometimes with a small tip, base attenuate into a sessile, usually entire, sparsely with a few serrate. Simple racemes, 2~4 cm long, densely flowered, 15~35 flowers, pedicels 1.5~4 mm; Bracts oblong, slightly shorter or as long as pedicels. Bracteoles usually red, ca. 1 mm long, petals elliptic obovate, apex slightly acute, base with 2 nectary glands; 6 stamens, ca. 1.5 mm; Ovary contains 1~2 ovules. Berry globose, reddish purplish, pink, 3.5~4.5 mm in length and diameter, stigma persistent, no style. Its flowering period is from May to June, fruiting from August to September.

 Ecological environment: The shrub grows in riverbank, Gobi Desert, or hillside thicket at an altitude of 300~800 meters above sea level. It distributes in the northwest, mainly in the western end of the Qinling mountains to western Gansu, eastern Qinghai, and Xinjiang of China.
 
Herbs Clearing Heat and Drying Dampness.

 Introduction: Herbs Clearing Heat and Drying Dampness: an agent or substance bitter in taste and cold in property that is effective for eliminating heat and dampness, usually used in the treatment of diseases caused by damp-heat, such as acute jaundice, acute dysentery, urinary infection, eczema, boils and abscesses.
 
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References:
  • 1.Introduction of San Ke Zhen:Barberry Root or Radix Berberidis.

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