Xian Ling Pi - Epimedium grandiflorum

Professional Data
 Pin Yin
Xian Ling Pi; Yin Yang Huo
Herba Epimedium sagittatum
 Introduction Back to Top
Herba Epimedium sagittatum is officially listed in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia as the dried aerial part of Epimedium brevicornum Maxim., Epimedium sagittatum (Sieb, et Zucc.) Maxim. The drug is collected in summer and autumn when foliage branches are growing luxuriantly, removed from the thick stalks and foreign matter, and dried in the sun or in the shade. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a Tonic and in the treatment of rheumatic, paralytic and involutional hypertension.
This herb is also called "Yin Yang Huo" in Chinese.

 Western medical Back to Top
Hypothyroidism, menopausal syndrome, climacteric hypertension, hypertension, infertility, paraplegia, hemiplegia, neurasthenia, coronary disease, hyperlipidemia, aplastic anemia, leukopenia, hepatitis B, nephritis, uroilithiasis, hematuria, enuresis, chronic prostatitis, chronic bronchitis and asthma, adolescent dysfunctional uterine bleeding, and osteohyperplasia.

 Eastern medical Back to Top
  • Pattern: Tonifies yang, tonifies kidneys. Indicated for deficient kidney yang patterns.
  • Properties: Acrid, sweet, warm.
  • Channels entered: Liver, kidney.
 Chemical constituents Back to Top
The main constituents of Epimedium Sagittatum are prenylflavone glycosides. The glycoside Icariin and many other prenylflavone derivatives have been isolated.

 Pharmacological actions Back to Top
Immunological actions

E. sagittatum has been shown to regulate the immunological functions. It enhanced the functions of antibody onload="highlight();" forming cells as well as the excitatory state of the lymphatic cells; it also increased the phagocytic activity of the monocytes and the number of T-cells. The polysaccharide isolated from E. sagittatum was found to accelerate the production of T- suppressor cells of immunized mice and to inhibit the antibody onload="highlight();" production in recipient mice; icariin, on the other hand attenuated the production of T-suppressor cells and the antibody onload="highlight();" titer was therefore markedly elevated.

At Bethune Medical University it was found that Epemedii Flavone (EF) exhibits extraordinary augmenting effect on the response of T-cells to mitogen in immunodepressed mice (IDM). The immunopotentiating effect of EF on T-cells appeared three days after its administration and continued to the end of the experiment (6th day). The stimulatory index of lymphocyte transformation in IDM was maintained higher than the index without EF. It was also evident that the immunopotentiating effect of Epemedii Flavone is closely related to the level of cyclic nucleotides, especially the ratio cGMP/cAMP.

Endocrine System effect

The aqueous extract of E. sagittatum given to dogs intragastrically did not cause erection (or mounting behaviour) though it promoted semen secretion.

The weight increase experiment on mouse prostrate, seminal vesicle, and levator ani proved that the injection of the Epemedium extract 20-40mg was as efficacious as androgen 7.5mg. A significant rise in the mean 24-hr urinary 17-ketosteroids even exceeding the normal level in healthy subjects was induced by administration of the herb of patients with chronic bronchitis, but no significant change in the 24-hr 17-hydroxycorticosteroid excretion was obtained. These results suggest that Herba Epimedium has ganodotropic effects.

Antitussive, Expectorant, and Antiasthmatic effect

The phenol red excretion method proved that the crude extract of the fresh herb as well as the ethyl acetate extract of the dried herb exhibited expectorant actions in mice. The methanol and ethyl acetate extracts were shown to have antitussive effect in mice with cough induced by sulphur dioxide. Likewise, cough in cats induced by electrical stimulation of the superior laryngeal nerve was completely suppressed by the methanol extract, suggesting a central action. In addition, the methanol extract protected guinea pigs from histamine-induced asthma.

Antimicrobial effect

Herba Epimedium markedly inhibited Staphylococcus albus, Staphylococcus aureus, and, to a lesser extent, Neisseria catarrhalis, Diplococcus pneumoniae, and Hemophilus influenzae. In vitro, the herb showed to inhibit Poliomyelitis virus, ECHO virus types 6 and 9, and Coxsackie virus types A9, B4 and B5. It directly deactivated these viruses .

Myocardial actions

Myocardial and circulatory indices indicated that both icariin and the extract decreased the peripheral resistance, suggesting their usefulness in the treatment of hypertension-complicated coronary disease. Perfusion of isolated rabbit hearts with the ethanol extract of this herb, or the non amino acid fraction obtained from the tablet of its 22% aqueous extract, markedly increased the coronary flow by 75.3% .

Blood pressure effect

Intraduodenal injection of the "Erxian" formula (see GM28 Golden Dawn ) 6g/kg to cats decreased the blood pressure starting 30 minutes after medication; the blood pressure was reduced by a mean of 30% at the end of two hours.

 Clinical Studies Back to Top
Chronic Bronchitis

An aggregate effective rate of 74.6% was achieved in 1066 clinical cases treated with Herba Epimedii pill alone.

The effective rates obtained in cough (549 cases), expectoration (543 cases) and asthma (149 cases) were 86.8%, 87.9%, and 73.8 %, respectively. These results indicate that the drug has good expectorant and antitussive qualities.


The Herba Epimedii Extract Tablet was tried in the treatment of 115 cases of hypertension at a dose of 30g (crude drug) three times a day for one month as a course. The maximal blood pressure reduction achieved by this treatment was 80/40mmHg; better responses were seen in stage I patients. The "Er Xian" (Green Medicine Golden Dawn) Decoction (1:15)15-30ml twice daily was tried in 57 cases of hypertension. It was most effective in 14 cases with stage III hypertension and also benefited hypertension due to deficiency of both "yin and yang".

Menopausal Syndrome

The drug was most satisfactory in treating menopausal syndrome and climacteric hypertension.

Treatment of Coronary Heart Disease

Clinical trials of this drug were made in 120 coronary heart disease patients with good results. Follow up study revealed that small doses of this drug taken orally either consecutively or intermittently consolidated the therapeutic effect.

Each tablet of Herba epimedii contained 0.3g of the crude drug. 4 to 6 tablets were taken twice daily for 30 days constituting a therapeutic course with an interval of 7 to 10 days between courses. All other drugs for dilating the coronary vessels and lowering blood lipids were suspended during the period of treatment. The rate of marked effectiveness in patients with severe angina pectoris was 66.7% after two months oral administration of E. sagittatum.

E. sagittatum was also effective in treating other symptoms including the sensation of tightness in the chest, palpitations and shortness of breath. After treatment these three symptoms were relieved or completely gone in 71.3%, 71.7% and 71.0% respectively. The sedative effect was also positive with alleviation of both insomnia and palpitations in 75.8% of cases. According to the statistics of the paper, the total effective rate for angina pectoris reached 85.6%. It was shown to have antihypertensive and lipid reducing effects. Relevant data indicates that this drug markedly dilates the coronary arteries and exerts an action against the pituitrin induced insufficient blood supply to the myocardium.

 References Back to Top

Except those noted, all references come from Weng Weiliang, et al., Clinical Chinese materia medica, Henan Science & Technology Press, 1998