Sophora Flavescens As Medicine – Ben Cao Medical Book


Sophora flavescens is a species of plant in the genus Sophora widely distributed in Asia, Oceanica, and the Pacific islands. The dried root of sophora flavescens is a major herb used in the traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) for hundreds of years where it is known as Ku Shen (苦参). It serves as a bitter tonic, diuretic and also helps to treat skin diseases such as eczema and pruritus.

Odour & Nature:

Bitter, cold-natured,


Sophora flavescens functions by influencing the heart, liver, stomach, large intestine and bladder.

Indications & Formulas:

Pills made with dried root of sophora flavescens and honey is taken with mint soup to treat high-grade fevers.

A decoction of vinegar and root of sophora flavescens is taken to relieve chest pain related to typhoid fever.

A decoction of root of sophora flavescens is applied on affected part to treat eczema, pruritus, scabies and colpitis.


Avoid taking veratrum nigrum root and root of sophora flavescens at the same time;

Patients with deficiency and cold in spleen or stomach should not take medicine that contains root of sophora flavescens.

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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