Herbs & Plants

Yuan Zhi

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Botanical Name : Polygala tenuifolia
Family: Polygalaceae
Genus: Polygala
Species: P. tenuifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Names : Chinese Senega, Yuan Zhi,polygala, Chinese senega root,Thinleaf Milkwort Root,Polygala root,thin-leaf milkwort root

Other Names:Chinese Senega, Flax, Klapperschlangen, Milkwort, Mountain Polygala, Polygalae radix, Rattlesnake Root, Senaga Snakeroot, Seneca, Seneca Snakeroot, Senega, Senega Snakeroot, Seneka, Snake Root. Polygala glomerata; Polygala japonica; Polygala reinii; Polygala senega, synonym Polygala senega latifolia; Polygala tenuifolia.

Habitat : Polygala tenuifolia is native to  E. Asia – Korea, Mongolia, Manchuria. Grows in the  Hillsides, roadsides and meadows. Dry meadows and stony slopes.

Polygala tenuifolia is a perennial herb,  growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in).  It is hardy to zone 6. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)


The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.

Prefers a moderately fertile moisture-retentive well-drained soil, succeeding in full sun if the soil remains moist throughout the growing season, otherwise it is best in semi-shade. Dislikes shade according to another report. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c.

Propagation  :
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division. Cuttings of young shoots in a frame in late spring.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.

Young leaves – cooked. Root – cooked. The core is removed and the root is boiled in several changes of water.

Medicinal Uses :
Cardiotonic;  ExpectorantHaemolytic;  Kidney;  Sedative;  Tonic.

Yuan Zhi is used primarily as an expectorant. It is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is called yuan zhi .

Yuan Zhi contains triterpenoid saponins, these promote the clearing of phlegm from the bronchial tubes. The plant is used mainly as an expectorant and stimulant to treat bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis and whooping cough. The root is antibacterial, cardiotonic, cerebrotonic, expectorant, haemolytic, hypotensive, sedative and tonic. It acts mainly as a tonic for the heart and kidney energies. It is taken internally in the treatment of coughs with profuse phlegm, bronchitis, insomnia, palpitations, poor memory, anxiety, depression and nervous tension. Externally it is used to treat boils and carbuncles. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The leaves are used as a tonic for the kidneys.

Medical study:
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the extract of dried roots of Polygala tenuifolia in healthy adults produced memory-enhancing effects. A similar trial with elderly humans also found significant cognitive improvement.

A number of in vitro experiments have examined the use of the herb in Alzheimer’s disease, memory disorder, depression, amnesia, cognitive defects, neurotoxicity, degenerative disease,and dementia among others. Results have been encouraging

Known Hazards : Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, at least one member of this genus is said to be poisonous in large quantities.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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