San Qi – Tian Qi – Panax pseudoginseng or P. notoginseng – “Three Seven”

Nature: sweet, slightly bitter, warm

Enters: Liver, Stomach, Large Intestine

Actions: Stops bleeding; promotes blood circulation, dispels blood stasis, relieves pain, reduces swelling; commonly thought of as a tonic, similar to ren shen.

• Bleeding: any form, internal or external, including hematemesis, epistaxis, hematuria, hemafecia, etc. A particularly important herb because it stops bleeding without causing stasis.
• Traumatic injury: the herb of choice for swelling and pain due to falls, fractures, contusions, sprains.
• Blood stasis: pain, including of the chest, abdomen, joints.
• Yin deficiency heat: bleeding (combine with Yin tonics).
• Coronary heart disease, angina pectoris: may replace nitroglycerin.
• May lower blood pressure.
• May reduce serum lipids, cholesterol.
• Effective for Crohn’s disease.
• The liver seems to play an important role in San qi’s ability to stop bleeding internally, since its effectiveness is lost if the portal vein is ligated. Also shortens thrombin time.
Li: May be beneficial in obesity for weight loss.
MLT: For internal or external hemorrhages.
• Powerfully dissolves clots, normalizes circulation.
• Increases coronary artery flow.
HF: An important herb in anti-Gu therapy to move Qi (xing Qi) and break accumulation (po ji).
Hsu: Cardiotonic: increases coronary blood flow, decreases oxygen consumption by cardiac muscle, thereby diminishing the load on the heart.
• Lessens lipid and cholesterol levels in the blood.
• Possesses an anti-tumor effect.
• Enhances the immune system.
SD: Has been successfully employed as an adjunct to radiation therapy of nasal cancer, greatly improving the success of the treatments. Improves immune system functions and promotes blood circulation.
DY: With Bai ji, the two herbs act to mutually reinforce one another, and together they effectively dispel stasis, stop bleeding, promote granulation and engender muscle (flesh) without producing blood stasis. For such indications as hemoptysis, hematemesis, and bleeding caused by trauma. For internal use, take 3-6g of each herb, powdered, 2-3 times per day. Most bleeding can be stopped within two days. For gastric hemorrhages, it is advised to mix this powder with cool water in order to increase its vasoconstricting mechanism within the stomach.
• With Dan shen to quicken the blood, dispel stasis, nourish the heart, open the network vessels, stop pain, and settle palpitations. For indications such as chest Bi or impediment, i.e. cardiac problems with pain and severe palpitations. For these indications, wine mix-fried Dan shen should be used. This combination treats heart pain no matter what the cause. This action may be reinforced by adding Shi chang pu, Xie bai, Gua lou pi, Gui zhi, and Tan xiang.
• There are two methods of preparation of San qi:
– Uncooked San qi quickens the blood, dispels stasis, and stops bleeding.
– Steamed San qi nourishes the blood, and is not effective for either quickening the blood or stopping bleeding. If San qi is cooked by adding it together with other decocting medicinals, its ability to quicken the blood and stop bleeding is lost. Therefore, for these indications, San qi is more efficient when administered [directly] in its powdered form.
• Modern research has clearly demonstrated that San qi has a definite effect on coronary heart disease, angina pectoris, and hypercholesterolemia.
Eric Brand: San Qi, also called Tian Qi, notoginseng, or pseudoginseng, is an important medicinal substance in Chinese medicine. San Qi comes from the same genus as Chinese and American ginseng, and the plants and their roots have similarities in appearance and odor. All three of these Panax species have some overlapping constituents, though they also have significant differences in their chemistry and clinical use. In contrast to the primarily supplementing American and Chinese ginsengs, San Qi is most well-known for its ability to stop bleeding and quicken the blood.
While San Qi is easy to identify visually, it is not uncommon to see mistaken substitute for San Qi on the market. The substitute, known as Chuan San Qi, is completely unrelated but it is confused with standard San Qi because of similarity in their Chinese names. I first became aware of this issue years ago when I was still in school in California. At the time, I often hung out in Chinatown-style herb shops, and I saw that many shops would refer to the normal San Qi that we learned about in school as Tian Qi, and would dispense a different herb when San Qi was specified. All textbooks clearly state that these two names are synonymous and should both refer to normal notoginseng, and it took me years to learn what that mysterious other herb was.
The true notoginseng is the hard, dense, node-heavy product that most of us are familiar with. The false notoginseng is a sliced, light, and white root product that looks similar to yu zhu (Siberian Soloman’s seal). The white, misidentified product is known as Rhizoma Tupistrae, and it is toxic. The exact species used has not yet been definitively identified, but the genus is known. This plant is a heat-clearing, toxin-resolving substance that should not be used in place of San Qi. True san qi should be very dense, grayish-yellow, brownish-yellow, or black; the true and false products are easily distinguished visually.
Once the correct species is identified, the next issue to be aware of relates to processing methods. For authentic San Qi, we see two different products on the market. In the past, all the best San Qi was exported, and the export grade was colored with coal smoke and coated with insect wax to make it shiny. This causes the roots to have a black, shiny appearance, and the prominence of this processing method for quality San Qi caused many global markets to develop a preference for the black, shiny form. Consequently, we see this black-processed form in herb shops around the world.
Unprocessed San Qi is naturally brownish-yellow, and often slightly gray in color. Depending on the soil and growing environment, it can come out more yellowish or more brownish, but it is quite distinct from the black, shiny form. Regardless of color, the roots have the same characteristic dense, stubby, and nodular shape. San Qi is graded based on size. Small roots are inexpensive, while older and larger roots fetch a premium price.
Weng Weiliang et. al.:
Bleeding due to ulcer
San Qi Bai Ji Tang (experiential formula): san qi powder, bai ji powder, sheng da huang powder, 6g each; xian he cao, duan wa leng zi, 20g each; zhi shi 9g; chen pi, fu ling, 15g each; qing ban xia 10g. 1 dose every day. Modify the formula according to accompanied symptoms. 36 cases of bleeding due to gastric or duodenal ulcer were treated, 34 were cured, 1 markedly improved and 1 improved. The average hemostasis time was 4 days.
Ulcerative colitis
San Qi Zhen Zhu San No. 1: san qi 50g; zhen zhu 50g, er cha 50g, xue jie 50g, bai ji 50g, bing pian 15g, for patients with excessive bleeding. No. 2: san qi 50g, zhen zhu 15g, xue jie 50g, er cha 50g, bai ji 50g, bing pian 15g, da bei mu 50g, for large ulcers. 5~10g powder was added with 50~100 ml physiological saline for retention enema, once daily before sleep, 15 days as a course of treatment, 2~4 courses totally. Among 36 treated cases, 28 were basically cured, 7 improved and 1 ineffective.
San qi was ground into very fine powder, 1~3g, tid, three days as a course of treatment, 1~2 courses totally. 26 cases (17 acute and 9 chronic) enteritis were treated, 23 cured and 3 improved.

Dose: 3-9g (1-3g direct as powder)


San Qi Hua: the flower
• Sweet, cool.
• Pacifies the liver; lowers blood pressure.
• Hypertension: dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus.
• Acute sore throat.

2 comments on “San Qi – Tian Qi – Panax pseudoginseng or P. notoginseng – “Three Seven”

  1. HUY NGUYEN says:

    Great info. Got a bottle of Tienchi powder RAW at local chinese herb store, it smell like American ginseng . Color looks like whitish-grey with a very slight yellowish hue. not sure it is a fake? Powder is fluppy-light. But since it smell like American ginseng and has slight yellowish hue it maybe borderline?

    I do have an San qi extract powder RAW from Mayway -darker brown color.


    • says:

      Hello Huy, It’s hard to say. The smell can be similar to American ginseng, and the color is usually pale yellowish/grey/tan except when lacquered. The lacquered form is black on the outside. So hard to know with a pre-powdered product. Better to get it sliced or whole, even though it’s a pain in the ass to crush or cut. Sorry to say you can’t always trust the little Chinese herb stores. And even if they are themselves honest, if they didn’t powder it themselves, their source may not have been honest – especially for such a pricey herb. Mayway, though, can be trusted. As can any of the other major importers … spring wind, kang, nuherbs, etc.

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