Cynanchum Atratum As Medicine – Ben Cao Medical Book


Cynanchum is a genus of about 300 species including some swallowworts, belonging to the family Apocynaceae. The root of cynanchum atratum is used in Chinese traditional medicine and it is widely known as Bai Wei (白薇). The root of cynanchum atratum is effective in pain relief and clearing internal heat.

Odour & Nature:

Bitter, brackish, neutral, non-toxic,


The root of cynanchum atratum functions by influencing the lung, stomach and kidney.

Indications & Formulas:

Medical powder made with root of cynanchum atratum, flos farfarae and the bulb of fritillary can be taken with rice soup to treat smell disorders.

Powdered peony root and root of cynanchum atratum can be taken with wine to cope with urinary incontinence during or after pregnancy.

Powdered cynanchum atratum root can be applied externally to heal knife wounds.

Pills made with cynanchum atratum root, bamboo shavings, licorice root and red dates can be taken with rice soup to reduce nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

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.

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