Sanchi is regarded as a top-grade crude drug of marvelous health-giving attributes by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to Compendium of Materia Medica, “Sanchi is warm in nature, sweet and slightly bitter in taste and helpful for treating all diseases of the blood”. In his medical compilation Bencao Gangmu Shiyi (also known as Supplement to Compendium of Materia Medica), Zhao Xuemin of the Qing Dynasty pointed out: “In contrast, while ginseng is the most efficacious for invigorating the vital energy called Qi in our body, Sanchi tops the list of all herbs in enriching the blood. Nevertheless, since Sanchi is the same family as ginseng, the two of them taste almost the same and have many curative functions in common”. Sanchi has since time immemorial known for its amazing efficacy in the treatment of blood disorders, which include blood stasis, bleeding and blood deficiency, hence acquiring the reputation as being the “Miraculous Herb”. In fact, as Sanchi features a much richer content of effective constituents than ginseng does, it has been dubbed the “King of Ginsengs” by TCM pharmacologist of today.
Excavation of Sanchi
Sanchi needs 3 years to grow up to maturity. Normally, excavation is done in October when active ingredient content of saponins reaches the highest level. Excavation begins from the top part, done in sequence to prevent root injury, and to ensure that Sanchi is intact.
Sanchi has been recognized since ancient time to have the significant effect in promoting blood circulation and removal of dead blood. It also enjoys the reputation as the “Heavenly Grass.” It was given various names like zao ginseng, blood ginseng, plantation sanchi, sanchi ginseng, etc. Since Sanchi belongs to the same family of ginseng but its active ingredients and effectiveness are higher than that of ginseng, it is being regarded as the “King of Ginsengs” by modern Chinese medicine experts.
Also known as pseudo-ginseng flower, sanchi ginseng flower, etc. is a perennial herb aralia. During June to August each year, the flowers are picked and dried up for future use all the year round. Unopened Sanchi buds are used by Chinese people to make tea. They believe it could produce cooling effect, lowering blood pressure and help protect the liver.
Major Functions of Sanchi
Dilates the blood vessels, brings down blood pressure, improves microcirculation, increases the volume of blood flow, helps prevent and relieves conditions associated with the deficiency of blood and oxygen in the heart and brain tissues.
Promotes the synthesis of protein, DNA, and RNA to reinforce the physical constitution.
Enhances cellular metabolism of the blood and facilitate regulatory balance of the blood cells.
Two-way modulation of the central nervous system to elevates mental faculty, augment learning ability and improves memory power.
Fortifies the immune defense to combat tumor growth.
Stops bleeding, removes blood stasis and encourages more efficient blood flow.
Protects the liver and counters inflammation.
Retards the aging process.
Two-way regulation of blood sugar as well as reduction of blood pressure and blood cholesterol to discourage hardening of the arteries.
Effective control of body weight and fight obesity.
Help prevent abdominal pain that occurs during vigorous physical workout without causing any side effect.
Maximize the utilization of oxygen to build stamina and elevate athletic performance.
Nourish the cardiac muscles, assist in normal functioning of the heart and toughen the cardiovascular system of athletes participating in events that demand tough physical endurance.
The use of Sanchi saponin in place of heparin during peritoneal dialysis can improve microcirculation functions of the liver to beef up its detoxification capacity.
The saponin, polysaccharide, and other active constituents in Sanchi are capable of protecting the liver cells and the cytomembrane for effective prevention and treatment of fatty liver and various forms of damage inflicted to the liver.
Sanchi saponin solution is effective in curing muscular spasm in the face.
Pharmacological Actions of Sanchi to the Human Body
The Blood and its Production System
Sanchi with its exceptional hemostatic ability is capable of noticeably shortening the duration of bleeding by effecting quick coagulation of the blood. It promotes the division and growth of various blood cells to increase their number, enrich the blood, remove stasis, and speed up their renewal.
The Cardiovascular System
Clinical tests have shown that Sanchi is remarkable in dilating the blood vessels, decreasing resistance and strengthening microcirculation in the coronary arteries, nourishing and increasing the blood flow in the cardiac muscles, reducing the arterial blood pressure and slowing down heartbeat to ease the burden of the heart and markedly lessen the rate of oxygen consumed by the cardiac muscles, hence is effective in treating the conditions of cardiac blood deficiency, angina pectoris and shock.
The Nervous System
The above-ground part of Sanchi plant exhibits an amazing ability in calming the nerves, relaxing the mind and promoting sound sleep. On the other hand, the under-ground part is notable in exciting the central neurons, enhancing mental alertness and removing fatigue. All parts of Sanchi are effective in augmenting learning ability and improving memory, apart from playing a significant role in relieving pain.
As Sanchi is capable of countering the condition of increased permeability in the blood vessels, it can work wonders in subduing inflammation.
The saponin of Sanchi can markedly elevates the functions of phagocytes, increases the population of peripheral white blood cells and restrains their mobility, hence, contributes to modulating the immune system.
Sanchi contains saponin, ß-element and various anti-cancer trace elements such as selenium. The Rh1 content of Sanchi saponin is able to subdue the growth of cancerous liver cells, while the Rh2 content exhibits an even more powerful anti-tumor efficacy, in addition to the ability in converting cancerous cells into normal ones. Also, the polysaccharides in Sanchi help supplement the treatment of cancer by fortifying the immune defense of our body.
Counter Oxidation and Retard Aging
As a powerful antioxidant, Sanchi can markedly revitalize the activities of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) and reduce the content of Lipoperoxide (LPO) in brain tissues and the blood, while at the same time reduce the content, therefore, contributes to retarding the aging process.
Sanchi saponin exhibits an amazing capability in elevating or lowering the sugar content in the blood to keep the former at a normal level. Moreover, it also reduces the level of blood lipids, in particular triglyceride, promotes the synthesis of protein in the liver, kidneys, testicles and blood serum, apart from facilitating the synthesis of DNA in various organs and tissues.
Pharmacologic Treatment of Sanchi
To treat various types of internal and external bleeding syndromes:
Hemostatic effect. Sanchi can not only arrest bleeding, but also dissipate blood stasis, producing outstanding curative effects. It is used for various types of internal and external bleeding syndromes and is especially applicable to bleeding syndromes due to blood stasis. It is an excellent herb with features such as the ability to arrest bleeding without leaving any blood stasis and to dissipate blood stasis without impairing primordial qi.
It can take effect when used alone for oral administration and external application. It can also be used in combination with ophicalcite and burnt hair, e.g., Huaxue Dan in the book ‘Records of Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine in Combination’. It has good effect on treating all kinds of hemorrhage diseases, such as, emptysis, ophthalmorrhagia, bleeding (all kinds of bleeding in general). It is also good for treating blood in stool, uterine bleeding, and excessive menstruation.
Control postpartum bleeding in women:
Sanchi is used to treat external and internal bleeding, including nosebleeds and bloody stools and urine. According to an American herbalist, Sanchi has been used in the United States for some years to control postpartum bleeding in women and heavy bleeding associated with menopause. As of 2002, some herbalists are recommending Sanchi as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
To treat traumatic injuries and blood stasis with pain:
Sanchi can promote blood circulation by removing blood stasis to subdue swelling and kill pain, so it is a major traumatological herb. It can be used alone for oral administration or external application or in combination with blood-circulation-promoting and qi-activating herbs.
To treat other syndromes due to blood stasis, such as coronary angina pectoris, ischemic cerebrovascular diseases, cerebral hemorrhagic sequelae, chronic hepatitis due to blood stasis and metroptosis:
In recent years, Sanchi has produced quite good curative effects in the treatment of such ailments as coronary angina pectoris, ischemic cerebrovascular diseases, cerebral hemorrhagic sequelae, etc., as it can dissipate blood stasis. It can also be used for chronic hepatitis due to blood stasis. In addition, its injection has been used for intramuscular injections and it has been made into vaginal suppositories for the treatment of metroptosis.
Sanchi root has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. One of China’s most famous herbalists said that the root was “more valuable than gold”. The herb is used as a general tonic, or a medicine to tone and strengthen the entire system. In particular, Sanchi is considered a blood and heart tonic. Chinese herbalists consider it to have a neutral energy, meaning it is neither heating nor cooling in the system. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Sanchi is believed to act on the Heart and Kidney meridians, which are the channels that contain the flow of qi (life energy) in the body. The herb was given the name “mountain paint” because a liquid solution of it is prescribed to reduce swelling and boils on the body.
From Sanchi, researchers have isolated chemicals called saponins and flavonoids, substances that are active biologically in the body. Some of the saponins in Sanchi are believed to provide the raw materials for the creation of important hormones that regulate energy levels and sexual function. Sanchi has also been reported to stimulate the immune system.
Heart and circulatory system:
Other research has pointed to Sanchi’s benefits for the heart and circulatory system. Through actions not completely understood, Sanchi appears to increase blood flow to the coronary arteries, which are the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle. Heart disease usually results from blockages in the coronary arteries. Sanchi also seems to increase the consumption of oxygen by the muscles in the heart. These actions have the effect of lowering blood pressure and regulating the rhythm of the heart.
It is used for curing coronary heart disease. After taking it, patients’ condition were notably improved, and their cardiogram showed that when they rested or did sports, their condition was getting better. When it is used to cure high blood fat, the high content of cholesterin or the total blood serum fat in blood is notably lowered.
Positive effects on the blood:
Sanchi also has been reported to have positive effects on the blood. It lowers cholesterol, and is believed to help dissolve clots. At the same time, it is reputed to stop bleeding both internally and externally. Sanchi root is one of the main herbs prescribed in Chinese medicine for traumatic injuries. In fact, the root has been distributed to members of armed forces in Asian countries to be used in case of traumatic injury and bleeding.
Treatment of HIV infection:
Possible newer uses for Sanchi root include treatment of HIV infection. A recently discovered xylanase, which is a type of enzyme found in plant roots, was isolated from the roots of Sanchi. The new xylanase appears to inhibit HIV-1 reverse transcriptase, which is an enzyme that allows the human immunodeficiency virus to integrate itself into the chromosomes inside a cell.
Treating severely chapped skin:
Sanchi powder for treating severely chapped skin [Jiangxi Zhongyiyao, 23(1): 35(1992)]. In addition to other effects (immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, etc), Sanchi is well known for its hemostatic and wound-healing properties. In this report, results of treating 68 patients with chapped skin are presented. Thirty-six patients were complicated with ringworm of the feet and 41 experienced different degrees of pain or bleeding. Duration of illness ranged form 6 months to 15 years. Method: Mix 30 grams of Sanchi powder well with an adequate amount of sesame oil to form a uniform paste, place it in a sealed clean container, and reserve for later use. Soak the afflicted areas with hot but tolerable water for 10-20 minutes before applying the oily paste. Do this 3-4 times daily for 30 days. Results: After treatment, 45 patients were healed, with no recurrence after more than 1 year; and 23 showed improvements, with longer periods between recurrences, which again responded to the same treatment. The fastest response was 3 weeks and the longest 7 weeks, with an average of 3.7 weeks. It is recommended that the paste be also used as a preventive by applying it to affected areas once every 1 to 2 days.
Preservation of life:
“The miracle root for the preservation of life,” as it is called by the Chinese, stands as one of the great health preserving herbs known to mankind. It is a superb blood tonic and blood cleanser when cooked. It is a powerful blood vitalizing agent when consumed raw, and is believed by the Chinese to protect the heart and vascular system. It can be used externally to stop bleeding. It is widely used in Chinese herbalism internally as a tonic after traumatic injury. It is one of China’s premier longevity herbs.
Improve memory, prevent brain cell damage, enhance the stress response and calm the nervous system.
Sanchi Leaf Extract is one of the most important Chinese herbs used to optimize blood circulation and nourish the blood. Scientific studies show the herb has a particularly beneficial effect on cardiovascular health. It can strengthen heart muscle contraction, normalize blood pressure, reduce plaque formation and blood clots (including strokes). Sanchi is also known to improve arterial elasticity and prevent hardening of the arteries.
Other research shows this remarkable herb to improve heart, brain and body oxygenation at the cellular level. This may explain its ability to improve memory, prevent brain cell damage, enhance the stress response and calm the nervous system. Brain infarction: it has good effect on treating apoplexy caused by cerebral veins stasis.
Calcium channel blocker activity:
Sanchi has been described as having calcium channel blocker activity that may exert additive antihypertensive properties when administered concomitantly.
Invigorates blood circulation:
Invigorates blood circulation and reduces stasis of blood, stimulates the menstrual flow and actives venation collaterals, dilates blood vessels, ameliorates blood circulation, prevents conglomeration of hematoblast and increases the blood flux to the brain.