Introduction of Yuan Zhi:Thin-leaf Milkwort Root or Radix Polygalae.
✵The article gives records of the herb Thin-leaf Milkwort Root, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its herbal classic book defined botanical source two plant species, ①.Polygala tenuifolia Willd., ②.Polygala sibirica L., and one usable plant species in North America and Europe, ③.Polygala senega L., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these three plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these three plant species, the features of the herb Thin-leaf Milkwort Root, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.
Radix Polygalae(Thin-leaf Milkwort Root).
Pin Yin Name: Yuǎn Zhì.
English Name: Thin-leaf Milkwort Root.
Latin Name: Radix Polygalae.
Property and flavor: warm, pungent, bitter.
Brief introduction: The herb Radix Polygalae is the dried root of Polygala tenuifolia Willd., or Polygala sibirica L., used (1).as a tranquilizer in cases of palpitation and insomnia due to disharmony of the heart and kidney, (2).as an expectorant in cases of acute or chronic cough with profuse sputum, (3).to expel phlegm for treating epilepsy and mania due to obstruction of the heart orifice by phlegm, and (4).to reduce swelling in cases of boils and sores. The herb is commonly known as Thinleaf Milkwort Root-bark, Root of Thinleaf Milkwort, Root of Siberian Milkwort, Yuǎn Zhì.
Botanical source: Herbal classic book and other famous herbal classics of China defined the herb Radix Polygalae (Yuan Zhi) as the dry root of the plant species (1). Polygala tenuifolia Willd., or (2). Polygala sibirica L. Common herbal classics of North America and Europe defined the herb Senega Root as the dry root of the plant species (3). Polygala senega L. They are plants of the Polygala L. genus, the Polygalaceae family (Polygalaceae Hoffmanns. & Link family) of the Rutales order. These 3 commonly used species are introduced:
(1).Polygala tenuifolia Willd.
Botanical description: The Polygala tenuifolia Willd., is a plant of the Polygalaceae family and Polygala genus, it is commonly known as "Polygala tenuifolia", "Thinleaf Milkwort", or "Xì Yè Yuǎn Zhì" (literally it means "thin-leaf polygala"), a perennial herb, it grows up to 25~40 cm high. The root is cylindrical, long, and slightly curved. Stems are upright or oblique, numerous, clustered at the base, slender, hard. With green, more than the upper branch. Leaves are alternate, petiole is short or subsessile; leaf blade is linear, 1~3 cm long, 1.5~3 mm wide, apex is pointed, base attenuates, entire, midvein sulched at the upper part, spurned at the lower part, glabrous or slightly villous. In the spring, the racemes at the top of the stem are 5~8 cm long, the flowers are small and sparse; 5 sepals, of which 2 are petal-like, greenish-white; 3 petals, lavender, of which 1 is larger, are keel-like, apex has fringelike appendages; 8 stamens, filaments connate at base; 1 pistil, ovary is obovate, flattened, 2-celled, style is curved, stigma is 2-lobed. The capsularfruit is flat, round-shaped, heart-shaped, 4~5 mm long and wide, green, smooth, narrow-winged, with no eyelashes, and a persistent bract at the base, which cracks when mature. Seeds are ovate, slightly flat, brownish-black, densely covered with white tomentose. Its flowering period is from May to July, fruiting from June to August.
Ecological Environment: The Polygala tenuifolia Willd., grows on a sunny slope or roadside, grasslands, hillside grasslands, shrubs, and under mixed forests, at the area with an altitude of 200~2,300 meters above sea level. Geographical distribution: This species is mainly distributed in the north, northwest, and the lower reaches area of the Yangtze River, China.
Growth characteristics: The plant polygala tenuifolia willd prefers cold and cool climate, avoid high temperature, resistant to drought. It should be cultivated on sunny sandy soil with good drainage, followed by dry soil and limestone soil. Clay and low wetlands are not suitable for planting.
Characters of herbs: The root of the herb is cylindrical and slightly curved, with a length of 3~15 cm or 2~30 cm and a diameter of 2~8 mm or 0.2~1 cm. The surface is grayish yellow to grayish brown, with dense and deep horizontal wrinkles, longitudinal wrinkles and cracks. The horizontal wrinkles of old roots are dense and deep, slightly nodular. The texture of the herb is hard and brittle, easy to break, the cortex of the fracture surface is brown-yellow, the wood part is yellow-white, the cortex is easy to peel off from the wood part, and the herb which the wood core is removed is hollow. The herb has a slight odor, it tastes bitter, slightly pungent, tingling throat sensation when chewed.
(2).Polygala sibirica L.
Botanical description: The Polygala sibirica L., is a plant of the Polygalaceae family and Polygala genus, it is commonly known as "Polygala sibirica", "Eggleaf Milkwort", or "Luǎn Yè Yuǎn Zhì" (literally it means "egg-leaf polygala"), a perennial herb, it grows up to 10~30 cm tall; upright or obliquely rooted, woody. Stems are clumped, usually upright, pubescent. Leaves are alternate, leaves are papery to subglaucous, lower leaves are ovate, ca. 6 mm, width 4 mm, apex is obtuse, upper ones are large, lanceolate or elliptic-lanceolate, 1~2 cm long, 3~6 mm wide, apex is obtuse, bony prongs, base is cuneate, entire, slightly revolute, green, pubescent on both surfaces, dent above the main ridge, abaxial uplift, lateral veins are obscure, shortly stipitate.
Racemes are exophytic or pseudoterminal, usually above stem tips, pubescent, with few flowers; flowers are ca. 6-10 mm, with 3 bracteoles, lanceolate-lanceolate, ca. 2 mm, pubescent; 5 sepals, persistent, abaxially pubescent, ciliate, outside is 3 lanceolate, ca. 3 mm, inside 2 petals, submessoid, ca. 7.5 mm, about 3 mm wide, apex is with tip, base is clawed, pale green, the margin is pale; 3 petals, bluish-purple, lateral lobes are obovate, ca. 5-6 mm, 2/5 below connate with keel, apex is rounded, slightly concave, base is lateral puberulent, keel is longer than the lateral valve, abaxially pilose, with tassel-like coronal appendages; 8 stamens, filaments 5~6 mm long, 2/3 below connate sheath, and ciliate anthers ovate, dehiscent by apical pores; ovary obovate, ca. 2 mm in diam., ciliate apically, styles are hypertrophic, apex is curved, ca. 5 mm, 2 stigmas, spaced.
The pods are nearly heart-shaped, with a diameter of about 5 mm, and the top is emasculated, with narrow wings and short ciliate. Seeds are oblong, flat, ca. 1.5 mm, black, densely white pilose, with white pods. Its flowering period is from April to July, fruiting from May to August.
The root of this species contains the same chemical composition as Polygala tenuifolia Willd. It can be used as an alternative of Polygala tenuifolia Willd.
Ecological Environment: The Polygala sibirica L., grows on a hillside meadow at an altitude of 1,100~2,800 meters above sea level, grows in sandy soils, gravels, and limestone mountain shrubs, forest margins, or meadows, at an altitude of 1,100~3,300 (~4,300) meters above sea level. Geographical distribution: This species is mainly distributed in China provinces and grows in most parts of China. This species is also distributed in Eastern Europe, Siberia, Nepal, Kashmir.
Growth characteristics: The plant polygala sibirica prefers cold and cool climate, avoid high temperature, resistant to drought. It should be cultivated on sunny sandy soil with good drainage, followed by dry soil and limestone soil. Clay and low wetlands are not suitable for planting.
Characters of herbs: The root length is 4~18 cm, the diameter is 2~8 mm, and there are 2~5 stem bases in the root head. The surface is thick, the horizontal furrow lines are few, and the branch roots are many, with a length of 2~5 cm. The texture of the herb is hard, not easy to break, the cortex of the fracture surface is thin, the wood core is large. The herb of better grade has thick roots and thick bark. The root of Polygala sibirica is thin, and the quality is not as good as the root of Polygala tenuifolia.
Pharmacological actions: ①.expectorant action; ②.effect on the uterus; ③.hemolytic action.
Medicinal efficacy: Calm the nerves (relieve uneasiness of mind and body tranquilization) and benefit to intelligence, tranquilization and calm the nerves, restoring normal coordination between heart and kidney, eliminating phlegm, inducing resuscitation, dispel melancholy, detoxification, detumescence (reduce swelling). It is indicated for insomnia and dreaminess due to disharmony between heart and kidney, have the fidgets (not feel easy in one's mind), palpitate with fear, insomnia, amnesia (forgettery, poor memory), frightened epilepsy, wet dreams (nocturnal emission), wandering in one's mind, expectoration (cough up phlegm and feel uneasy), cough with much phlegm, sore and ulcer, pyogenic infections, carbuncle-abscess on back, breast swelling pain, etc.
Administration of Radix Polygalae (Yuǎn Zhì):
Administration Guide of Radix Polygalae (Yuǎn Zhì)
①.Internally:3~10 grams; ②.Internally:water decoction, 1~3 qian (about 3~9 grams), infusing in wine, or prepare to pill, powder; ③.Internally:water decoction,3~10 grams, infusing in wine, or prepared to pill, powder.
Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions:the herb Radix Polygalae better combine with Poria Cocos, Fructus Malvae, Os Draconis, should not be combined with Pearl, Black False Hellebore, Blattaria, Grubs.
(3).Polygala senega L.
Botanical description: The Polygala senega L., is a plant of the Polygalaceae family and Polygala genus, it is commonly known as "Polygala senega", "Seneca snakeroot, senega snakeroot, senega root, rattlesnake root, mountain flax.", or "Mei Yuan Zhi", perennial herb with multiple stems, it grows up to 50 centimeters tall. The stems are usually unbranched, but some old plants can have branching stems. A mature plant can have up to 70 stems growing from a hard, woody rootstock that spreads horizontally. The lance-shaped leaves are alternately arranged. The lower leaves are reduced and scale-like. The inflorescence is a spike of rounded white or greenish flowers. The fruit is a capsularfruit containing two hairy black seeds. The root is twisted and conical, with a scent somewhat like wintergreen and a very pungent taste. There are two root Polymorphisms; a northern morph growing in Canada and toward Minnesota has larger roots up to 15 centimeters long and 1.2 wide which are dark brown and sometimes purplish toward the top, and a southern morph found in the southeastern USA (the United States of America) that has smaller, yellow-brown roots.
Ecological Environment: The Polygala senega L., grows on prairies and in woods and wet shoreline and riverbank habitat. It grows in thin, rocky, usually calcareous soils. It also occurs in disturbed habitats, such as roadsides. Geographical distribution: This species is native to North America, it is distributed in the central and eastern areas of the USA (the United States of America), southern Canada, etc.
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1.Introduction of Yuan Zhi:Thin-leaf Milkwort Root or Radix Polygalae.