Ku Shen is a Chinese herb with a lot of promise. Although it has been used by traditional practitioners for thousands of years, it is now the subject of some very exciting clinical and pharmacological research, revealing its powerful therapeutic value for a surprisingly wide range of conditions - from dysentery and asthma to cancer and hepatitis.
Ku Shen is the Chinese term for the root of Sophora flavescens, a member of the Bean and Pea family, Leguminosae. Found growing wild throughout China in sunny meadows and roadsides, it is also cultivated, mostly in the Shanxi and Hubei provinces. While the plant contains a rich cornucopia of useful chemical constituents, as most herbs do, current research is focused primarily on 2 of its quinolizodine alkaloid constituents, matrine and oxymatrine. S. flavescens naturally contains about 2% of these compounds in its root stock.
Other species of Sophora also contain these valuable constituents. S. japonica and S. angustifolia are also called Ku Shen in the Chinese Pharmacopeia, because in Traditional Chinese Medicine, they were found to have properties and applications nearly equivalent to those of S. flavescens. S. subprostrata is also quite similar but is distinguished as Shan Dou Gen. Both types of TCM herb are bitter, cold "heat clearing" herbs, but Ku Shen is thought to "dry dampness" whereas Shan Dou Gen is thought to "clean toxins." S. alopecuroides is also used in traditional medicine. Of all the alkaloid rich Sophoras, though, S. flavescens is most common and most commonly used. It is much like the usage prevalence of Echinacea purpurea over its cousins in the United States.
Ku Shen is remarkable in the diversity of conditions for which it has shown positive benefit. It has been used safely with significant results to treat asthma, bronchitis, cardiac arrhythmia, ulcer, bacterial and candida infections, eczema, neurodermatitis, psoriasis, vaginitis, hepatitis B and C, dysentery, conjunctivitis, parasites, fever, inflammation, insomnia, and cancer. Wow! With so many positive therapeutic applications, it is no wonder that clinical and pharmacological researchers are excited about investigating this herb and its alkaloids. Following is a very brief description of their findings:
Asthma and Bronchitis In animal studies, the alkaloid matrine was found to be as effective as methylxanthine bronchodilator aminophylline without its stimulatory side effects. Oxymatrine was also found to inhibit histamine release in mice. Sophocarpine, another alkaloid in Ku Shen, was found be antitussive, inhibiting the urge to cough, while its flavone compounds demonstrated expectorant effects. 517 cases of asthmatic bronchitis were treated with Ku Shen with an 86.5% effectiveness and 38.8% marked effectiveness rate.
Cardiac Arrhythmias Ku Shen has been shown to counteract several types of arrhythmia, particularly premature sytole; regulate heart contractility; dilate the coronary artery, increase blood flow and improve cardiac oxygen levels; and counteract the myocarditis-causing coxsackie virus. In one study of 32 patients, arrhythmias were improved with 84% effectiveness and 56% marked effectiveness.
Infections and Skin Conditions Ku Shen was shown in a clinical test to be 79% effective in treating acute and subacute eczema. Extracts are administered in China orally, topically and by injection to successfully treat perineal eczema, pudendal eczema, urticaria, pruritis, scabies, seborrhea and other types of dermatitis. (Note: Injectable forms are specially prepared and not available in the US).
Matrine significantly inhibits Shigella, E. coli, Proteus vulgaris, B-Strep, and Staph bacterias in vitro. Ku Shen is used to treat bacillary dysentery. Matrine mixed with tannins to make matrine tannate is particularly effective against dysentery. Studies indicate that Ku Shen could also be effective in treating giardia infection.
Ku Shen has been very effective in treating infections of the female reproductive system, including salpingitis, endometriosis, cervical erosion, chronic cervicitis, vaginitis, and chronic pelvic inflammatory disease. In one study, 126 of 176 patients were cured of vaginal trichomonas after treatment with Ku Shen.
Hepatitis B & C Recently researchers have focused on using Ku Shen and its alkaloids to treat hepatitis B & C. Amazingly, injections of Oxymatrine were shown not only to be liver protective but also to reduce viral replication, and inhibit liver fibrosis. When used in an herbal formula, the effects were comparable to interferon therapy, but without adverse side effects.
Cancer Ku Shen, matrine, and oxymatrine have been used extensively in China as an adjunct therapy for cancer with good results. Injections have been found effective in countering radiation induced leukopenia, improving white blood cell counts, and stimulating the anticancer immune mechanism. Positive results have been reported in cases of cervical, lung, and throat cancer, and leukemia.
Ulcer Oxymatrine is effective in inhibiting the formation of ulcers. It works by reducing the secretion of stomach acid while also inhibiting gastric motility, two processes that also cause acid reflux disorders such as GERD.
There are several additional uses for Ku Shen that are being actively investigated. It has mild sedative effects on the central nervous system and has been found to be helpful in treating insomnia. In animal studies, it has also been shown to reduce (yeast induced) fever. Matrine was shown to have anti-inflammatory properties in mice. Ongoing research will no doubt reveal new applications for this valuable herb.
Safety Generally Ku Shen is a very safe herb with low toxicity. Side effects such as dizziness or gastric upset are evident only at unusually high dosage levels. Also at very high dosage levels, there is some evidence of immunosuppression from animal and in vitro studies.
Ku Shen is effective alone or in the context of a formula. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is often used in a formula with other herbs that accentuate its effectiveness for a specific function. Draco's Ku Shen is a Full Spectrum 5:1 extract of Sophora flavescens. Please contact us for additional details
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Xi'an Hao Xuan Biological Technology Co., Ltd. founded in 2008, mainly engaged in natural plant active ingredients and pharmaceutical intermediates R&D, production and sales. The company has modern production equipment in the domestic advanced level. Annually, herbs processing capacity about 1,000 tons, finished product capacity of 2,000 kg. Be widely used in medicine, chemicals, food, health products and other fields. As a gold supplier, a new production line was founded in 2014. In 2015, the factory could customize high-content monomer products. We have got Kosher certification in 2016 and SC certification in 2017.