Notoginseng Root - Tian San Qi
Products Featuring This Herb:
Young at Heart
Yun Nan Bai Yao Capsules
Yun Nan Bai Yao Powder
Calm in the Sea of Life Teapills
Notoginseng Eucommia Pills
Other Common Names
San Qi, Tian Qi, Pseudoginseng.
Page # In Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs
San Qi (Tian Qi)
Bitter and Slightly Sweet
Organ Meridian Systems
Heart, stomach and large intestine
Part Used and Form
Cooked: as a blood and yin tonic; raw: to stop bleeding and transform congealed blood
“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. Notoginseng, also called Tienchi ginseng, is a relative of Panax Ginseng. 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.
The Notoginseng plant looks similar to Siberian Ginseng and contains saponins similar to those of Panax Ginseng. It is commonly called by its Chinese name, San Qi. Li Shi Chen, China ’s most renowned herbalist, said that “San Qi is more valuable than gold”, and since that time this herb has often been referred to as “Not to Be Exchanged for Gold”. It has also been called the Miracle Root for the Preservation of Life.
Panax Notoginseng root is rich in saponins. It contains a mixture of more than 12 saponins and approximately 12% of the root extract are saponins. The primary saponin fractions are arasaponins A and B, which are dammarane derivatives and are very similar to or in many cases identical to ginsenosides derived from Panax Ginseng.
Because of its reputation for benefiting the circulatory system, the actions of this herb on the cardiovascular system have been extensively investigated,. Panax Notoginseng has been shown to dilate the coronary artery and to increase coronary blood flow and therefore providing more blood to the cardiac muscle in humans. The herb reduces cardiac load and lowers arterial pressure. It improves collateral microcirculation in and around damaged heart tissue in humans.
Laboratory animals fed this herb had increased ability to tolerate and survive hypoxia (reduced oxygen supply) and anoxia (minimal oxygen supply).
The herb is widely used clinically in Asian countries for angina pectoris and other coronary disease. It is often given in conjunction with western-style drugs and always under a doctor’s supervision.
The uncooked powder as well as the infusion of San Qi shortens the clotting time of blood in laboratory animals. The herb has been proven to have significant hemostatic, anticoagulant and platelet function-suppressing action in animals and in humans.
Preparation and Utilization
For cooking, as a blood tonic or to build strength after surgery or while recovering from an illness, whole roots may be cooked with chicken or with other tonic herbs. Traditionally in China, San Qi is almost always cooked with chicken because the chicken eliminates the bitter flavor of the San Qi. The resultant soup is mild and delicious, especially if other vegetables have been added. Among the tonic herbs, San Qi is one of the least pleasant tasting. It has a bitter flavor that is difficult to get used to. For this reason, capsules and pills are generally most palatable and are overall the best way to take San Qi unless it is a minor ingredient in an herbal formula that overwhelms its flavor.
For those who wish to use raw San Qi to benefit the cardiovascular system, capsules are best. San Qi is an ingredient in many commercial cardiovascular tonic formulations. As always, if you suffer heart disease, consult your health care practitioner before using raw San Qi for medical purposes.
Notoginseng is one of the few herbs that is more commonly used alone rather than in combination with other herbs. However, it is combined with Dang Gui in blood tonics and with other blood vitalizing herbs in cardiovascular tonics. In that case, combine with: Ligusticum rhizome and Salvia root. It is combined with musk in the famous trauma treating formula known as Yunnan Baiyao.
Varieties and Grading
San Qi is available in its unprocessed form at Chinese herb shops. If you want the raw San Qi, you can obtain both capsules and powdered San Qi at Chinese herb shops. Also, sliced raw San Qi can be obtained from the herb shop and ground in a coffee grinder. Whole San Qi is generally available at Chinese herb shops as well. My view is that these are usually the best San Qi available. Larger roots are considered premium. They are hard, so you should have the herb shop crush them or slice them for you for efficient cooking or easy grinding.
San Qi should never be taken during pregnancy. San Qi has the capacity to “dissolve” and cause the expulsion of blood clots lodged anywhere in the body. It is especially useful for dissolving and eliminating blood clots in the pelvic basin. However, it has been found that San Qi treats an embryo as a blood clot and can therefore result in an unwanted miscarriage.