Lithospermum Erythrorhizon As Medicine – Ben Cao Medical Book


Lithospermum erythrorhizon, also known as purple gromwell, red gromwell, red-root gromwell and redroot lithospermum, is a plant species in the genus Lithospermum. In traditional Chinese medicine, the roots of lithospermum erythrorhizon (Zi Cao, 紫草) holds heat-clearing and detoxifying effects.

Odour & Nature:

Bitter, astringent, non-toxic,


Lithospermum erythrorhizon functions by influencing the heart and liver.

Indications & Formulas:

A decoction of lithospermum erythrorhizon roots can be taken orally to cope with pityriasis rosea (a harmless, common skin problem that causes a rash).

A decoction of lithospermum erythrorhizon roots and repeatedly boiled water can be taken orally to treat smallpox in infants and children.

A decoction of lithospermum erythrorhizon roots and trichosanthes seeds can be used to heal ulcers related constipation.

Powdered lithospermum erythrorhizon roots can be taken with well water to treat urinary tract infection and extended lochia.

Pounded lithospermum erythrorhizon roots mixed with vegetable oil can be used externally to treat bug bites as well as colpitis.

Extract from lithospermum erythrorhizon roots can be used in pharmacy for treatment of chronic hepatitis and acute hepatitis.

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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