Coptis Chinensis As Medicine – Ben Cao Medical Book


The rhizomes of coptis chinensis (also known as Chinese goldthread, Huang Lian, 黄连) are widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and serve as a source for the isoquinoline alkaloids berberine, palmatine, and coptisine among others. Generally, the rhizomes of coptis chinensis provides heat-clearing and detoxifying effects. The rhizomes of coptis chinensis is extremely bitter, as there is an old Chinese saying that “a dumb person tasting the rhizome of chinese goldthread (哑巴吃黄连)” to describe a mute victim.

Odour & Nature:

Extremely bitter, cold-natured, non-toxic,


The rhizomes of coptis chinensis functions by influencing the heart, stomach, liver and the large intestine.

Indications & Formulas:

Boiled water with the rhizomes of coptis chinensis is taken orally to clear accumulated heat in heart.

Pills made with the rhizomes of coptis chinensis and fine wine is taken to treat summer-heat with syndromes including high fever, burning heat sensation of the skin, irritability, forceful and rapid pulse.

A decoction of rhizomes of coptis chinensis and urine of boys under ten is taken orally to cope with dengue fever.

A decoction of gypsum, rhizomes of coptis chinensis, licorice root (甘草) can be taken to treat typhoid fever (a serious infectious disease that produces fever and diarrhea and can cause death).

Calcined and vinegar-quenched amethyst powder, angelica sinensis (当归), polygala tenuifolia (远志), spina date seed (枣仁), fritillaria cirrhosa (川贝母), poria cocos (茯苓), platycladi seed (柏子仁) and rhizomes of coptis chinensis are to be made into pills for oral taking in the morning to treat dysphoria and insomnia.

Medical wine made with rhizomes of coptis chinensis, roots of Siberian dwarf pine as well as other materials can be used to boost our immune system and make our body’s natural defenses run more smoothly (other materials include: prepared rehmannia root, raw rehmannia root, astragalus propinquus (processed with honey), dried tangerine or orange peel, Angelica sinensis, Mangnolia officinalis, white paeony root, ginseng, bitter orange, rhizoma atractylodis, pinellia ternata, radix asparagi, tuber of dwarf lilyturf, fructus amomi, coptis, elecampane, Sichuan pepper, walnut kernel, red dates, aged rice and fresh rice).

A decoction of polygonatum odoratum, root of common peony, Angelica sinensis and rhizomes of coptis chinensis can be taken internally to help relieve red painful eyes.

The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.

The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.

Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *